Family Activities, Parks

Henry Cowell Redwood State Park Review

Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is located in the Santa Cruz Mountains and is one of my family’s favorite places to visit when we’re in the Santa Cruz area. Below is my real life Henry Cowell Redwood State Park Review.

About the Park

Day Use Area
101 Big Trees Park Rd.
Felton CA 95018


You can hike, ride horses, picnic, swim, and camp on more than 4,650 acres of forested and open land.  The tallest tree in the park is approximately 277 feet tall, about 16 feet wide, and around 1,500 years old. When at the park you may see a variety of wildlife like banana slugs, black-tailed deer, coyotes, bobcats, or steelhead trout.

COVID-19 Note – Please check the parks website and call the park to verify what is open during COVID-19 Pandemic.

Admission & Parking

When I visited the park, there was a vehicle day-use fee for the day-use area and the campground: Regular sized autos ($10), seniors age 62 or older ($9), bus parking 10-24 passengers ($50), and bus parking for 25+ passengers ($100). You should visit the website or call the park to verify current admission pricing.

Family Friendly Activities

Note, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many activities may be offered on a limited basis or not at all, so be sure to call the park to verify what activities are offered. The activities below were activities my family participated in prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The park did not charge additional fees for each of the activities offered to the public.

Tip – Parking was limited near the activities, so be sure to arrive early to ensure that you are able to park near the activity.

Tip – Be sure to call and speak with someone at the park to verify what activities are offered, days, times and locations. I used the website to plan which activities to attend, but when my family arrived at the first activity we were told that activity had already ended and that the times on the website were not correct.

Little & Junior Ranger Programs

When my family visited the park before COVID-19, my kids participated in the park’s junior ranger program. We were suppose to participate in the little ranger program, but the event time on the website was different than actual event time, so we missed it. It was an nature focused educational interactive styled workshop facilitated by a park ranger. There were quite a few kids participating. My kids liked talking with other kids, playing the games and making crafts.

Casual Campfire

I thought we were attending a traditional campfire with smores and songs, but I learned that the campfire had an educational focus instead (no smores or songs). My kids learned about the forest plants through a Q&A and they received small prizes when they answered questions correctly. And, the park ranger showed the audience how to make tea from certain types of tree bark, very cool!

Casual Campfire
Tree Bark Tea

Star Walk

At night, the park rangers guided us in the dark on a short hike to the top of a mountain. At the top of the mountain there was an observation deck. The park rangers talked about the constellations in the sky and provided a telescope to view the stars. My kids really liked this activity and constantly ask to go back!


My family walked the redwood grove loop trail, it’s a short trail about .8 miles. It may be too much walking for some small children, so I would recommend gauging if your kids will be up for the walk. My son was complaining the entire walk.

It’s a really beautiful walk among the majestic towering redwood trees. And, we saw a deer too. After finishing the loop trail, we went on another trail at the same location to see the “beaches.” In reality, they were just openings among the foliage on the river, not really what I would call a beach. Also, the “river” was probably 3-6 inches deep, so not really what I would call a “river.” It’s more like a creek. But, the kids think anything with water is cool, so they were happy.

The “Beach” And The “River”

Tip – Bring slippers or water shoes if you don’t want them walking in the river barefoot.

Our Thoughts

State parks in general offer so much, nature at its best and so many free activities (no additional charges for specific activities, you only pay the day-use fee). You can’t beat the value proposition, many fun activities in one day for a $10 day-use fee. We love going to Henry Cowell Redwood State Park every time we’re in Santa Cruz. Hopefully you found my Henry Cowell Redwood State Park Review helpful for your next family trip to Santa Cruz!

Santa Cruz Related Links

Redwood Resort RV Park & Campground Review

Santa Cruz Exploration Center Review

Museum of Natural History & Seabright Beach Review

Seymour Marine Discovery Center Review

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