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Camping at Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park

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Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park preserves the site of the only surviving building from the Mission Santa Cruz established in 1791, one of the 21 Spanish missions founded across California. This historic site offers a glimpse into the area's colonial past, the mission era's impact on the Ohlone and Yokuts people, and the agricultural history of the region.

Camping Information

It's essential to note that Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park is not a standard camping destination. There are no camping facilities within the park. Instead, it functions primarily as a historical and educational site. Visitors come to explore the museum, enjoy the exhibits, and participate in educational programs.

Alternative Camping Options

For those interested in camping in the Santa Cruz area, there are other nearby locations to consider, such as:

  • Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park: This park offers a traditional camping experience with sites set among towering redwoods, as well as opportunities for hiking and observing wildlife.
  • New Brighton State Beach: It provides beachside camping spots, beautiful ocean views, and a chance to enjoy the sandy shores.
  • Big Basin Redwoods State Park: Although it suffered significant damage during wildfires, check for current availability as it's known for its ancient redwoods and extensive trail network for camping and hiking.

These parks offer a more typical camping experience with tent and RV sites, restrooms, and other camping amenities.

Visiting Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park

While camping is not available at Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park, visitors can still enjoy a range of activities:

  • Educational Programs: The park offers educational tours that delve into the history and significance of the mission.
  • Self-Guided Tours: Explore the mission buildings and grounds at your own pace with informative displays and exhibits.
  • Cultural Events: The park may host special events, demonstrations, and living history days that showcase the lifestyle during the mission era.

Hours and Admission

  • Hours: The park's visitor center and grounds have specific operating hours, which may vary seasonally. Check with the park's official website or contact the park directly for the latest hours.
  • Admission: There may be an entrance fee or suggested donation to support the park's maintenance and educational programs. Again, verify current policies before visiting.

Regulations and Considerations

  • Preservation: As a historic site, it's crucial to respect the structures and artifacts. Follow all posted signs and guidelines.
  • Accessibility: Ensure that the planned activities and areas within the park are accessible based on your needs.
  • Pets: Some historic parks have restrictions on pets, so check if your animal companions are allowed and under what conditions.
  • Weather and Clothing: Prepare for the coastal climate, which can include foggy mornings and sunny afternoons.


While Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park doesn't offer camping, it's an enriching historical destination. The surrounding Santa Cruz area provides a variety of camping experiences for those looking to spend a night under the stars. Remember to plan accordingly and check the latest information on both the state historic park and nearby camping sites to ensure the best possible experience.

Map of Campgrounds in Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park
Campgrounds in Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park
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