Update for 2012: The Scotts Valley Independence Day Fireworks Spectacular show takes place Wednesday, July 4 at Skypark. Gates open at 3 PM for food, music and games, with the Independence Day Parade also beginning at 3 PM on Scotts Valley Drive. The fireworks show begins at 9:15 PM. Admission is $6 advance or $8 at the gate. Children under 5 are free. Tickets available at Ben Lomond Market, Scotts Valley Market, Crown Cafe Deli & Catering, or the Scotts Valley Recreation Office, located at Skypark, 361 Kings Village Road, Scotts Valley, CA 95066. Questions call 831-438-3251.
Read below for parking, traffic and transportation information. Santa Cruz Metro will not operate regular buses this Independence Day! Highway 17 will operate on a weekend schedule.
The below was written for 2009, but most of the information remains the same for 2010.
The only fireworks in Santa Cruz County will be in my little town of Scotts Valley, California at Skypark. This always means monstrous crowds coming in, which won’t be a problem since we’ll have events and entertainment all day at the park.
When the fireworks are over at about 9:45 PM Saturday night, however, everybody will want to leave at the same time resulting in a critical mass of cars all trying to escape out to Highway 17. If you drive and park in Scotts Valley, expect to take up to two hours to get to the highway from your parking spot.
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Most people who live in Scotts Valley know to walk to Skypark, and several people will also ride their bikes.
I don’t know if it’s realistic for most people to ride their bikes to Scotts Valley from Santa Cruz — it’s a pretty steep climb. Going back downhill on the narrow mountain roads at night with heavy traffic and many drunks has its own hazards that you’ll need to evaluate. If you’re a strong rider and you have lights, I say go for it; I certainly would. If you need to tow small children in a trailer, think about a carpool.
The usual bike routes between Santa Cruz and Scotts Valley:
- Roaring Camp Railroad: Take the RR from Santa Cruz to Felton, go across Hwy 9 to Conference Road, past the deadend, walk your bike over rocks, then ride to where the path connects to Mount Hermon Road and go into Scotts Valley. 2010 Update: Riding alongside the Roaring Camp RR tracks is no longer legal due to problems at “Heroin Hill.” Roaring Camp also hosts their own Independence Day activities and will charge for access to their venue, even if you’re just transiting through.
- Graham Hill Road uphill; right on Sims Road, left on La Madrone, left on Mount Hermon. Graham Hill is narrow with fairly heavy and fast traffic.
- El Rancho Drive is the access road on the east side of Highway 17. This road was closed for a few years because part of it was washed out where it connects with La Madrone. Plymouth Street in Santa Cruz becomes El Rancho Drive after you pass the County buildings at Emeline. This is my usual preferred route between Santa Cruz and Scotts Valley.
2011 Update: No Santa Cruz Metro regular service on July 4. Highway 17 service (which has stops in Scotts Valley) will operate on a weekend schedule. Highway 17 bus regular one-way fare is $5, and Scotts Valley’s transit center is right in the thick of the fireworks viewing area.
The Scotts Valley Police Department recommends taking transit to and from the festivities, which in Scotts Valley means the Santa Cruz Metro Route 35. On the weekends, #35 departs the Cavallaro Transit Center in Scotts Valley at 1 minute after the hour from 9 PM to 11 PM. 35 northbound to Scotts Valley departs the Metro Center in downtown Santa Cruz every half hour on the hour and half hour from 7:30 AM until 11 PM on weekends. Fare is $1.50; children under 46 inches ride free.
The Cavallaro Transit Center is just down the street from Skypark. The buses will be caught in the same traffic mess as the other motorized traffic, so bring something to read.
Since I mention parking, the usual spots are at Skypark itself, the transit center park and ride lot, Kings Village / Nob Hill parking lot on Mount Hermon Road, the K-Mart parking lot (with prime viewing behind the store) and Longs Drugs/Safeway on the other side of Mt Hermon.
Have fun and be safe!