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February 25, 2020
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State parks open and busy

(The Kolda family of San Jose enjoy camping at Sunset State Beach for several days at the start of summer. Photo by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)

WATSONVILLE — Along cool, trickling streams, down winding, dirt paths, through verdant canyons teeming with wildlife, a trip to a California State Park can be a respite from the hustle and bustle of city life, and a reminder that life exists beyond.

With summer in full bloom, people from throughout the world will come to California to visit its 280 state parks, which stretch from its southern border deserts to its redwood-crowned north.

Kerry and Joe Kolda came from San Jose to camp in Sunset State Beach, a trip they take twice a year.

With them were five kids, a group that was set to grow by four more on Friday night.

“It’s a close drive, and it lets us get away from city life and explore nature,” Kerry Kolda said.

During their five-night stay in the South County campground, the family typically goes berry picking and visits the Martinelli’s Company Store, where they taste the company’s latest juices.

They also enjoy visiting Yamashita Market, the Japanese grocery store on Union Street, Kolda said.

“But most of the time the kids dig holes and play on the beach,” Kolda said.

The Kolda family was among the lucky few that scored a campsite at the popular spot. The campground is booked for the summer, said State Parks Superintendent Gabriel McKenna.

Still, the parks are open for day use, although visitors are advised to arrive earlier in the day to avoid the crowds, McKenna said.

In addition, anyone planning on swimming in the ocean is advised to ask a lifeguard about current conditions. A lifeguard is on duty for the rest of the summer at Sunset and Manresa state parks, he said.


Local state parks

• Pigeon Point Light Station State Historic Park

Located 20 miles south of Half Moon Bay and 30 miles north of Santa Cruz, off Highway 1, (650) 879-2120

• Half Moon Bay State Beach

95 Kelly Ave., Half Moon Bay, (650) 726-8819

• Castro Adobe State Historic Park

184 Old Adobe Road, Watsonville, 226-9669

• Sunset State Beach

On Sunset Beach Road, just off San Andreas Road in Watsonville, 763-7063

• Manresa State Beach

1445 San Andreas Road, Watsonville, 724-3750

• Seacliff State Beach

State Park Drive, Aptos, 685-6444

• Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park

101 N Big Trees Park Road, Felton, 335-7077

• Rancho del Oso – Big Basin Redwoods State Park

3600 Highway 1, Davenport, 427-2288

• Año Nuevo State Park

Located off Highway 1, halfway between Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz

1 New Year’s Creek Road, Pescadero, (650) 879-2025

• Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Located nine miles outside of Boulder Creek on Highway 236 at 21600 Big Basin Way, 338-8883

For information, visit


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