After a beautiful drive along the famous US Highway 1 and detouring through the forests of the mighty Californian Redwoods of the West Coast USA, we had finally arrived at the Big Basin Redwoods State Park – California’s oldest state park situated in the heart of the Santa Cruz mountains.
Here we were surrounded by thousands of majestic trees, which all stood tall like giants looming above us with a certain aura about them – as though they were wise old souls looking down on us. Some of these giants are more than 50 feet and as tall as the Statue of Liberty. At 1,000 to 2,500 years old, some even pre-date the Roman Empire!
The deep red tones of the bark, coupled with the bright blue sky and lush green foliage was a kaleidoscope of magical colour. Stepping out of the car, we all felt so small and insignificant in comparison to these marvels of nature.
We were visiting for a night and staying at one of the Big Basin tent cabins managed by the California Park Company so had to pick up our key and a few supplies and then we were off, on our very own USA camping adventure amongst these iconic redwood trees.
We had heard so much about this place and so had decided to add it to our 6 week roadtrip itinerary as the park also offers spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, lush waterfalls, and boasts a fascinating natural and cultural history. Not to mention it was a welcome escape from the Californian heatwave we had experienced as the tall redwoods provided a shady getaway from the inland heat.
Not sure who was more excited, the big kids in the front or the little kids in the back, as we drove to our tent cabin in the woods. We were greeted by a tiny timber cabin, not dissimilar to what you see in the American classic movie, Bigfoot (Harry and the Hendersons).
Surrounded by beautiful towering trees we had everything we needed for our camping adventure including an outside fire pit and toilet, a little wood heater, a gas cooker, lantern, cooking utensils and two double beds inside.
As we didn’t bring along any camping equipment with us from Australia, this was the perfect way to go camping in a beautiful place with the kids.
While the cabins only look reasonably small from the outside, they are big enough for everything that we needed and especially when you’re spending most of the time outdoors hiking and exploring anyway. There was enough room for the four of us and all our bags and we were able to still fit Jasper’s travel cot in.
There was no power or wi-fi available, (allowing for us to have a welcome digital detox for two days) and the only alarm clock available is the resident woodpeckers which noisily appear each morning and the busy squirrels fossicking around for food.
Once we had unpacked, we headed off for a wander and stumbled across a group of kids and other families cooking marshmallows and making the all American s’mores with the resident camp ranger and sharing stories around the fire. The kids were all checking out the famous banana slugs that were like big, fat worms – only yellow!
As the night fell, we headed back to our cabin and tucked the kids in bed and sat around our own campfire watching the ‘wild animals of the night’ shyly appear from the woods, including deer and raccoons!
It was such a memorable experience and highly recommend it for families travelling with young kids. The perfect place for camping, hiking, backpacking, and picnicking and with over 80 miles of trails on 18,000 acres, there is so much to explore!