Todd Guild/The Pajaronian

Todd Guild

California State Parks

The best investment we make every year is our annual Golden Poppy pass, which allows entry to more than 100 of California’s state parks.

With numerous parks within a short drive in Santa Cruz County – featuring mountains, deserts and beaches, to name a few – it’s unthinkable not to take advantage of them. 

We go frequently to many of our local parks, including Nisene Marks, Henry Cowell, Natural Bridges and Wilder Ranch. 

Such a trip is perfect for a family.

We also love the state beaches – especially the ones in South County, which frequently have few people.

In fact, one of the best things about going to state parks is the fact that so few people are there. It’s a getaway from the bustle of everyday life and, to me, a reminder of what life is supposed to be: playing among giant trees, sweeping vistas of sand and ocean and the sublime Santa Cruz mountains, with flowing streams perfect for wading.

At $125 for unlimited entry to our beautiful parks, it’s a hard deal to match. The passes can be purchased at most state park kiosks and at


Tony Nuñez

Limekiln State Park 

I am a camping novice, but I do enjoy spending time in the great outdoors with friends and family, which now includes a beautiful, caring and calm 11-year-old mutt. This time I drove to Limekiln State Park to spend a birthday with a dear pal. It was my first time at this park, and I will definitely return as soon as possible.

Nestled into the Big Sur coast, Limekiln is split into three parts: a picturesque beach shore, a cozy, shotgun-style assortment of camping spots and a short trail system that leads into the wilderness. 

The beach, which is located below a Highway 1 underpass, was a dream, as no more than 10 people were on the shore at the same time. I was able to play with my dog, hang with my friends and feel absolutely isolated despite having another group seated a short distance away. I’m sure the roar of the crashing waves had something to do with that. 

My friend reserved and paid for the camping spot months in advance. That is typically the case for this location. To make reservations visit 

Tony Nuñez/The Pajaronian
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