New Brighton State Beach in Capitola, CA (near Santa Cruz) is normally a reservation-only park, but “due to a hazardous tree removal project, campsites are off reservation and available on a first-come first-served basis from February 1, 2014 through April 30, 2014.”
This would be our second first come first serve in a row, so we figured we’d have the best shot for a spot if we arrived on a Sunday. We pulled up to the entrance of the park at 12:30pm, because check-out is at 11 and check-in at 2.
We asked if we could do a drive-through of the park so we could pick a spot with good sun for solar. The ranger replied that we couldn’t do a drive through and would we like to be put on the wait-list for a campsite? She told us there were 19 others on the wait-list, and she didn’t know how many campsites were going to become available, and we should come back at 2pm to find out if we got a spot.
At 2pm we got in line with 25 other people on the list and learned that there were 34 sites available so it was all going to work out. It then took an hour to get our site.
We are staying for 6 days, but we can only pay for 2 days at a time. Yesterday when I went to re-up for another 2 days, I asked why we could only pay for two when max stay is 7 days. The ranger responded “because that’s what my boss told me to do.” Ok, but can you tell me the logic or reason behind this? She said she wasn’t really sure, but maybe so they would have some flexibility with the tree removal project.
The park itself is nice and there’s a pretty fantastic sandy beach that we haven’t had a chance to hang out on yet.
The one thing that’s become real apparent is the difference between boondocking, RV Parks and State Parks. Boondocking and RV Parks are quiet pretty much all of the time. State Parks are quiet only during quiet hours, even then, people can still get rowdy in the middle of the night.
2014 Cost of Camping:
21 night paid camping
84 nights free camping
105 days this year
Total spent on camping this year: $640
Daily average cost of camping: $6.10