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The History of

Smithwoods R.V. Park

Circa 1920

Welcome to this family owned resort! 

It all started in 1919 by Charles & his wife, Frances Smith under the name of Big Trees Auto Camp. 

They traveled to the Santa Cruz Mountains on vacation and fell in love with the trees, the river and the weather and decided to purchase the 13 acres of paradise..

The property, originally a brickyard, became an immediate attraction for auto campers from far and wide..


Here the visitors would enjoy the beautiful outdoors and relax under the redwoods.

The Smiths raised their four children Bette, Florence, Eric & Charlotte on this property. 


During this time a couple of locals, Earl & Amy Powers, became friends with the Smiths and helped build the main house, referred to for years as "The Big House." 

In later years, Frances' mother came to live with them in the second story apartment - her name, Gragor Holt (of the Benjamin Holt Caterpillar Tractor Family from Stockton.)

Charlie spent much of his time developing the park. 

One by one he built single room cabins and leased them by the year to family and friends. 





As Big Trees Auto Camp evolved tent camping became another way to get out under the stars. 


Charlie and his wife cherished this land and when they finally died it was their oldest daughter Bette and her husband Don Kelly who took the reins.

So that left Bette and her husband Don to continue the family tradition.  For the next 35 years Smithwoods was run by the Kelly's with the help of their children. 


From car camping to tent camping to RV camping many families have built a tradition around this home away from home. 


There were summers of crawdad fishing on the river, Spring trips to Roaring Camp and winter months of campfires and s'mores. 



After the death of Bette in June 2005, the care of the park changed hands to the next in line, oldest daughter Brenda and 2 of her children Chris and Rick (Charlie's great-grandsons.) 


They welcome you to their extended family with hopes of building long and lasting relationships in the years to come. 


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