Camping: Ben Ries Campground, Butano State Park

I’m frequently asked what my favorite campground is near the Bay Area.  My answer is always, “the one at Butano State Park, just outside of Pescadero, in the Santa Cruz Mountains”  We’ve been camping at Ben Ries Campground in the park every summer for several years now, and it’s become a family tradition.  The small campground, tucked away in the redwoods, is extremely popular with families.

Campground Information:  Ben Ries Campground has 39 sites (21 drive-in and 18 walk-in), which may (well, must, due to popularity) be reserved in advance.  The restrooms are very clean, with running water (but no showers).

Butano Camp Trip 003

Butano Camp Trip 002

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Reservations:  To secure your spot, go to the Butano State Park website, and click on the “Online Reservations” box… Butano State Park.

Things to Do:

  • Hike one of the trails within the park.  My son and I enjoyed hiking the peaceful Little Butano Creek Trail, a 1.5 mile trail along a creek through the redwoods (3 flat miles out and back).

Butano Camp Trip 015

  • Check out the elephant seals at Ano Nuevo State Park.  For details and seasonal information, visit the Ano Nuevo website.. Elephant Seals.  At certain times of the year (December through March), you may only see them through a guided tour, which you must reserve far in advance!

For more information about Butano State Park:  Visit the Butano State Park website… Butano SP.

Other campgrounds nearby:  I recommend the campground at San Mateo Memorial Park.  You can learn more about it here… Camping:  San Mateo Memorial Park.

I’ll leave you with a photo of my son, zooming around the Ben Ries Campground on his bike, from our visit last week…

Butano Camp Trip 001


  1. Claire says:

    You may have just inspired a late summer camping trip 🙂


    1. That’s my goal. 🙂


  2. Looks like a beautiful place to calm down 🙂


    1. That’s exactly what I love about this area… very peaceful.


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