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.
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.
- 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. I hesitate to mention it here because nobody seems to know that the road has been rebuilt, but it's a wonderful way to bike up to Scotts Valley from Santa Cruz because traffic is so light on this road. Plymouth Street in Santa Cruz becomes El Rancho Drive after you pass the County buildings at Emeline.
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, the Kings Village / Nob Hill parking lot on Mount Hermon Road, and Longs Drugs/Safeway on the other side of Mt Hermon.
Have fun and be safe!