New Brighton State Beach

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

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  • Reply Wheelingit April 16, 2014 at 8:54 am

    Oh geez….what a pallava! And all for $35/night of dry camping. CA doesn’t make it easy.


  • Reply Pam Wright April 16, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    Wow, what a bunch hoops to jump through. Glad things worked out after the wait. Enjoy!!

  • Reply Greg Miller April 16, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    Wow, you are right in my backyard! (started following your blog recently)

    Yep, normally the Santa Cruz beach campgrounds are very hard to get into without serious advance planning. So, your timing is good. Seacliff Beach (next campground over from New Brighton) has to be reserved 1 year in advance.

    As it turns out we will be hosting a small rally just up the road from you this weekend in Felton, in the redwoods, at Cotillion Gardens RV Park. We should have a half a dozen classic FMC Motorcoaches. Please stop in if you are out and about exploring this weekend.

    Have a great stay in Santa Cruz! If you need anything or any information, shoot me an email. Gregmiller at pobox dot com

    Greg Miller

    • Reply Leigh April 17, 2014 at 8:51 am

      Thanks for commenting Greg! I wish we could stop by, but on Saturday we’re moving up to Half Moon Bay where we have a reservation.

  • Reply Mike Mullin April 17, 2014 at 8:10 am

    Greg beat me to it – in my opinion the gem of the CA state park system (at least for RVers) is one exit down at Sea Cliff.

    You can’t get any closer to the waves and as far as I know it’s the only state park that puts you that close to the beach AND provides full hookups.

    Head South on the beach below New Brighton and you’ll be at Sea Cliff in no time. It’s a beautiful walk.


    • Reply Leigh April 17, 2014 at 8:52 am

      Ooh that’s a good suggestion – we’ll have to do that tonight after work. Thanks Mike!

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