See the California redwoods the way loggers did in the 1800s at Roaring Camp Railroads, which operates two train routes from its starting point in the forest just north of Santa Cruz. The authentic steam engines date back to 1890 and are some of the oldest and best preserved in the United States.
There are two routes to choose from, depending on the time of year. The Redwood Forest Steam Train chugs through redwood groves from Roaring Camp to the summit of Bear Mountain; the round-trip journey takes more than an hour.
In spring, summer, and fall, the Santa Cruz Beach Train rolls through Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, across a 1909 steel truss bridge, and through an 1875 tunnel to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk; you can go on a round-trip ride, or go one way in either direction.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Parking is available for a fee.
- Wheelchairs are available to rent at the ticket office.
- You can buy food at Roaring Camp or bring your own; picnic tables are available to rent.
- The trains have both covered and open-air passenger cars; if you opt for open-air seating, bring a jacket and consider bringing sound-blocking headphones for babies and young children.
How to Get There
Roaring Camp is located in the small town of Felton, a short drive inland from Santa Cruz via Graham Hill Road. From San Jose, it’s a longer drive via State Route 17.
When to Get There
Depending on the season and day of the week, the Redwood Forest train departs once a day or up to four times a day at varying times. The beach train departs Roaring Camp twice a day and the boardwalk twice a day. While the beach train does not run during the winter, a Santa Cruz Holiday Lights Train is offered on select days.
Roaring Camp Railroads hosts a series of themed train rides and events during the year, such as a Moonlight Train Dinner Party and Great Train Robberies. If you’re traveling with kids, check out the Thomas the Tank Engine events in the summer and fall; these are limited-time train rides and are very popular, so make sure to buy those tickets early.