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El Monte RV

Excellent One-Tank Trips from Santa Cruz

There are plenty of amazing destinations within just a few hours of Santa Cruz. You are not far from San Francisco and everything the Bay area has to offer. Plus, there is a vast array of coastal beaches to visit from Monterey up to San Bruno Mountain State Park with a stop at Pacifica Beach on the way. This is a coast lovers’ paradise. Plus, there are amazing national forests and national parks nearby. Carve out enough time to really stop and enjoy nature in this part of California as it is simply some of the best scenery you will find anywhere!



Santa Cruz serves as the gateway to the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, and with the relaxed atmosphere associated with the surfing culture, the vintage charm of classic arcades and the boho chic personality of downtown, there is something for everyone here. Visit the Sea Lions in Santa Cruz. Built in 1914, the Santa Cruz Wharf is the longest wooden pier in the US at over 800 meters (0.5 mile) long. The walkway is lined with seafood eateries, local gift shops and information panels about the local history and nature.


Walk to the end of the pier for fantastic views of Monterey Bay, but stop along the way to look out for the resident lion seals. You will most likely smell them or hear them before you see them, so keep all your senses on alert!


Surfers from all over the world are drawn to this town for its reputation as one of the best surf towns in the U.S.  If you are just a beginner, you should start out at Cowell Beach. Located west of the Santa Cruz Wharf, Cowell Beach is known for its easy-to-catch gentle waves. This is the right spot for beginners to learn how to ride the waves. Not only is Cowell Beach a top Santa Cruz surf spot, but it’s also a great place to relax and unwind by the water. 


Another day trip destination from Santa Cruz is the Big Sur Scenic Drive, South of Monterey. Just take Highway 1 south out of Santa Cruz and... keep going. It's up to you how far you go and how much you see. Enjoy the best of California dreaming from the comfort of your RV.


And, if you are up for a trip north, go visit Big Basin Redwoods State Park. Take Highway 9 north out of Santa Cruz, turn off at Boulder Creek (west), and you'll find yourself at the entrance of one of the greatest sights of natural wonder in California. The journey will take about 45 minutes. But that's just to get there, so leave plenty of time to drive (slowly) around this awe-inspiring park, perhaps have a short walk, a picnic, or find a place to park your RV overnight. Then, when you are ready, take the long relaxing drive home.


Day visits are allowed from 6 am to sunset. If you get a chance, walk around the Redwood Grove Loop.

Another great thing about this trip is all the places you can visit along the way. Felton is a particular highlight, home to the Roaring Camp Railroad. This old-fashioned steam train will take you along wood-trestle tracks through beautiful redwood groves. And, there are lots of other attractions to entertain you nearby.


Huge lakes, extreme deserts and plenty of national parks are open year-round for your enjoyment in California. Every outdoor activity you can think of is available in this State. 

A beautiful drive in your RV will make the trip to California's many sights worth visiting. 


Alcatraz Island should definitely be on your agenda since it provides a glimpse into the past and Devils Postpile formation (seasonal) offers a wonderful chance of seeing a geological marvel. A trip to Alcatraz Island is an absolute must for many folks visiting this area. They enjoy visiting the island, seeing the gardens, tidal pools and of course touring the inside of this old federal penitentiary. The view from Alcatraz is breathtaking.

To see an old-growth redwood forest Muir Woods National Monument and Redwood National Parks are both perfect places to visit.  Drive your motorhome inland (east) to Yosemite National Park and stay in one of their beautiful campsites. Yosemite National Park is famous for its waterfalls and it also provides beautiful campsites for you to enjoy while camping in your RV rental. 


From Santa Cruz, you can reach Yosemite National Park in about 4 hours. While that is a long day trip drive, feel free to make a reservation (they are required) and stay at Yosemite for an overnight or two-day trip. This park is filled with tons of wonderful sights, guaranteeing you’ll enjoy every minute of it. Whether taking in Bridal veil or Yosemite Falls or watching people scale Half Dome, Yosemite is fulfilling John Muir’s original intention for this park: to be a natural haven for people to enjoy and commune with nature for all time. Yosemite is not just a great valley, but a shrine to human foresight, the strength of granite, the power of glaciers, the persistence of life, and the tranquility of the High Sierra.


First protected in 1864, Yosemite National Park is best known for its waterfalls, but within its nearly 1,200 square miles, you can find deep valleys, grand meadows, ancient giant sequoias, a vast wilderness area, and much more. Be sure to visit their website for current information on how to make reservations, which are required to enter the park.

Death Valley National Park is just another 3 hours from Yosemite (south) and spans both California and Nevada. This park is a real land of extremes and contrasts. Despite its morbid name, a great diversity of life amazingly survives in Death Valley. There are also several national forests not far from Santa Cruz. 


National forests are enjoyed by both locals and visitors since they provide an opportunity to experience nature at its best.  The hundreds of campsites and well-maintained trails at Tahoe National ForestStanislaus National Forest and Toiyabe National Forest will make you want to return many times.  They offer beautiful scenery, wildlife viewing, and recreational opportunities for everyone. 


The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park is a state park in California, protecting a secondary forest in the watershed of Aptos Creek and Soquel Creek within the Santa Cruz Mountains. Take your time, and enjoy California’s many amazing forests: it’s worth it.


When you are ready to take on the outdoors in this part of coastal California, contact your nearest El Monte RV dealer in Santa Cruz (Scotts Valley). 

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«December 2023»


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