Parks After Dark

Enjoying nature at night

Ed Levin County Park in Milpitas

Photograph by Lane Johnson

On a clear day from the top of Mt. Hamilton in San Jose’s Joseph D. Grant County Park, you can look across the valley all the way to San Francisco Bay. When the sun goes down, the grasslands and majestic oak trees take on a vastly different look, but few people ever get to see this tranquil, night-time face of the park.

Santa Clara County Parks offers many opportunities to visit local parks after closing time and experience how things change after dark. In the company of a knowledgeable guide or park ranger, you can explore local parks after hours without the daytime crowds. For example, you can learn about solstice rituals around the world and participate in one of your own as you hike through the rolling grasslands and oak woodlands of Ed Levin County Park in Milpitas. If you make it to the top of Monument Peak in the moonlight, you’ll see spectacular views of the valley floor and San Francisco Bay. Or take a slow-paced hike up the steep and rocky trails of Calero County Park to enjoy the breathtaking nighttime views of southern Santa Clara County. Once part of the Rancho San Vincente land grant, Calero Reservoir is nestled in the eastern foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains, west of U.S. 101 in Morgan Hill.

If you’d like to find out what roams the park after dark, and learn how animals rely on their senses to survive in the wild, join park staff on sunset and moonlit adventures to explore the adaptations of our nocturnal neighbors. Ranger-led hikes at Lexington Reservoir in Los Gatos or Anderson Lake in Morgan Hill offer spectacular reflections off the water on a moonlit night. Experienced kayakers can also take part in full-moon paddles at Anderson Lake, Stevens Creek Reservoir, and Calero Reservoir.

At some county parks, you can even bring your canine companion on an evening adventure on the trails. On guided evening walks at Mount Madonna County Park near Gilroy, you can explore the nightlife of a redwood forest and discover what our domesticated dogs have in common with wild dogs. Overlooking Santa Clara Valley to the east and Monterey Bay to the west, the slopes of Mount Madonna change from redwood forest to oak woodland, dense chaparral, and grassy meadows. At Joseph D. Grant County Park, you can enjoy the sunset while you discover how to have a safe hike with your dog as you learn about the native canines that live in the park, and test your dog’s agility on a special dog course.

Right here in our backyard, Santa Clara County’s 47,000-acre system of urban and mountain parks, trails, lakes, streams, and open space is one of the most diverse recreational areas in all of California. To learn more about its many after-dark activities, call or check out the online calendar at

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