We love trains and train rides and the redwoods, so naturally we have visited Roaring Camp, nestled in the Santa Cruz Mountains, several times over the years.
- During a Santa Cruz camping trip in 2012, we spent the day at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and rode the Beach Train to roaring camp — and my kids LOVED getting all sorts of snacks from the snack car!
- In 2013, we did a family camping trip in Santa Cruz again, and this time drove up to Roaring Camp so we could ride the train through the mountains and walk the Redwood Grove Loop Trail at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park.
- Then in 2018, while in Santa Clara for two incredible Dead & Company concerts, we drove up to Roaring Camp and the redwoods again.
Built as a recreation of an 1880s logging town, Roaring Camp not only offers unforgettable train rides, but hiking trails, chuckwagon barbecue, and blacksmithing demonstrations, as well as activities like candle-making, old time photos, gold panning, horseshoes, and shopping at the General Store.
There are two train ride options at Roaring Camp, We have done both on separate trips and had a blast on each one…
The Redwood Forest Steam Train
This 75 minute, narrow-gauge train ride takes you through ancient redwood groves on a round trip to and from Roaring Camp up Bear Mountain. We did this train ride when we drove to Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park and visited Roaring Camp on the same day.
The Roaring Camp & Big Trees Narrow Gauge Railroad travels over trestles, through towering redwood groves, and up a winding grade to the summit of Bear Mountain as conductors narrate the history of Roaring Camp, the railroad, and the forest. Roaring Camp’s steam engines date from 1890 and are among the oldest and most authentically preserved narrow-gauge steam engines providing regularly scheduled passenger service in America.
The Santa Cruz Beach Train
This three hour train excursion takes you along the San Lorenzo River from Roaring Camp to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and back, or from the boardwalk to Roaring Camp and back. We did this train ride in the afternoon, during a visit to the boardwalk. It was the perfect thing to do when the kids were tired from playing and riding rides all morning!
The Santa Cruz, Big Trees & Pacific Railway travels through the Santa Cruz Mountains and Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, down the scenic San Lorenzo River Gorge, across a 1909 steel truss bridge, and through an 1875 tunnel on its trip between the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and Roaring Camp. This Railway operates passenger and freight services on one of the oldest and most historic lines in California. When the route opened in 1875 it carried lumber as well as picnickers and tourists to the Big Trees and Santa Cruz.
Roaring Camp History
Roaring Camp has a rich history dating back to the 1830s, when mountain man Isaac Graham, settled here and Mexican authorities named the settlement Roaring Camp.
In 1842, Graham established the first saw mill west of the Mississippi. Fortunately, the Big Trees here were spared and 25 years later, they became the first virgin stand of coastal redwoods to be protected from logging. Then, in 1875, the area’s first railroad, the Santa Cruz & Felton, began carrying tourists to the Big Trees and the beach.
The dream of preserving a piece of the 1880s and early California was the dream of Roaring Camp’s Founder F. Norman Clark. During his work to open the Santa Cruz, Big Trees & Pacific Railway, Clark passed away and his wife Georgiana, the longtime Vice President of Operations, was elected CEO. Today Georgiana is Chairman of the Board of Directors and President, while the Clark’s daughter Melani serves as CEO.
Know Before You Go
- Roaring Camp Railroads is located at 5401 Graham Hill Road, Felton, California 95018 in Santa Cruz County.
- Roaring Camp charges $10.00/vehicle to park. Save yourself $10.00 and park next door for free at the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. You can walk between Roaring Camp and the state park easily and visit both!
- There are two train ride options at Roaring Camp: The Redwood Forest Steam Train up Bear Mountain and back, and the Santa Cruz Beach Train that travels to and from Roaring Camp and the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.
- Roaring Camp gates open at 9:00 am and closes at 5:00 pm unless trains are operating.
- Admission to the grounds is free except during special events.
- Food is for sale, but you can also bring your own picnic.