Dean's family camped here a lot while he was growing up, and it's the place we've camped most as a family. When we lived in Felton, the day-use entrance was half a mile down the road, and we often walked on the trails, in the river or beside the main road to play in the river, look for deer, or follow the shortcut to church. Walking to the observation deck (a three mile hike from the entrance) was Dean's almost daily exercise.
Roaring Camp's steam engines pull trains up a mountain or down to the beach, and the grounds include an 1880s main street.
When we moved to the area, we weren't sure where we'd find housing in the four communities that make up the San Lorenzo Valley, so we enrolled in SLE. Our son got bored while waiting for me to fill out paperwork, so he pulled the fire alarm on the wall above where he was sitting. It was a memorable introduction to the school all three kids would attend for the next five years.
It's the main road through the SanLorenzo River valley, and if you live there, you probably drive, hitchhike, bike, or walk along it daily. The section from Felton to Santa Cruz, periodically closed for landslides or construction, is beautiful and a little terrifying if you're not used to sudden changes from sun to deep shade while driving a narrow, twisting road with steep drops to a river bed on one side. North from Felton, rainstorms -- or earthquakes -- can mean road closures with detours miles long to get from one end of the valley to the other.
The park contains the tallest covered bridge in the United States, and it's a lot of fun to run through while yelling to hear echoes. But that's not all! There's also a playground, and for our family, it's where we've celebrated birthdays and had my favorite family portrait taken.
The smell of damp redwoods and bay laurel on a warm day.