When Ryan and I both go on our 360-degree photo tours, we usually have the grandparents watch our kids. Their one-mile per hour pace is too slow for the amount of ground we need to cover. Some days we walk more than 10 miles of campground land. Today was different, we were going to the Santa Cruz mountains to meet up with my brother (Eric) and his girlfriend (Claire) for some training on the photo collection. With the extra help, I could stay back with our littles and explore.
We completed the training with Eric and Claire in the first half of the day at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. Ryan, myself and the kids were now headed over to Big Basin State Park for the second half of our day. Eric needed to split away from our Campgrounds 360º collection crew at this point in our trip because he knew there would be no cell phone reception. He was on-call that weekend and needed to have cell service.
In the car on the drive over from Henry Cowell State Park, my littlest had fallen asleep. We parked in front of the closed gate to Sempervirens Campground as the camp hadn't opened for the season just yet. My older kids were eager to get out of the car. Fortunately, the first campsite (#188/187) was just on the other side of the gate where I could watch them and listen for the baby if he woke up.
These sites were ADA compliant (please see our 360º photos if you are handicap - these sites aren't paved which may cause problems for some people with disabilities) which was ideal for the moment because the grade wasn't as steep as the other sites. When you have a baby sleeping and a clumsy 3-year-old running around, the last thing you want is to increase the chances of a fall. Nyah (the clumsy 3-year-old) has a wail louder than a feral cat in heat when she even thinks of getting hurt. I didn't want to risk Wyatt (the baby) waking up to this sound.
It turned out that Sempervirens Campground offered the perfect playground for these two. They pushed away wet forest leaves to find unique creatures like banana slugs and newts. They scaled the fallen tree trunks that were covered in slippery and wet green moss. Their favorite game of the day was hide and seek. Nyah thought she was sneaky by hiding in the bear box. Nolan loved finding the biggest tree trunks to slip his little body behind.
Ryan came walking back with his tripod and round 360º camera in hand just as Nyah and Nolan discovered the rushing waters of Sempervirens Creek at the rear of the site. I didn't want one of them slipping down into the creek, so the cue of Ryan telling us to leave couldn't have been at a better time.
Would we come back here again to camp? Definitely, but only if I could reserve one of my preferred campsites. It is one of the campgrounds (like most in state parks) that we would need to book exactly 6 months in advance. I would also personally wait until our kids could each hike at least 7 miles in a day. I think this camp would be a great basecamp for a full week of hiking in Big Basin wilderness (especially since there are showers here).
To give you a better idea of what Sempervirens Campground is like, it is located in the Big Basin Redwoods State Park, .8 miles away from the headquarters. The campground is split into two loops by Big Basin Highway with tent-only camping on the northern side of the highway and tent or RV camping on the southern loop. Toilets and showers are located at the entrance of the northern tent loop. Each of the sites varies in size with some of them feeling very large and other small and close to the neighboring sites.
The confluence of Blooms Creek and Sempervirens Creek is at the very south end of the camp. Many of the sites butt right up to the creek. Each of the sites is well shaded by towering pine and redwood trees. The entire camp is on fairly level ground. The camp road is paved but parking spurs are dirt. There is no extra paving for the handicap sites.
A few of the campsites have views of the Sempervirens or Blooms Creek. All sites are nestled into the old-growth lowland redwood forest which provides shade throughout the day and a beautiful ambiance. This campground does have the added benefit of hot showers which is always a pleasant amenity after a day of hiking.
What to Bring:
- Hiking shoes
- Bug spray (bring Deet vs. Citronella - these bugs are serious)
Click here to view our to-scale campground site map and 360 photo tour.
In the Reviews:
Rated a 4.6 on Google Reviews. Most of the reviewers were not bothered by the size of their campsite, even if they had one of the smaller sites. Campers enjoyed the amenities but warned about the bugs. Joanna Caird wrote, "Such an amazing spot in amongst some giants. Really enjoyed it here. Very clean flush toilets."
- Hiking (including guided tours)
- If you are visiting from outside of the bay area, a day trip to Santa Cruz or Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park would be fun
Links to other Big Basin State park campground reviews:
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