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Steam Train at Oak Meadow Park, Los Gatos - Billy Jones Day will feature rides on the train and carousel where riders decide the amount that they will pay - Los Gatos, CABilly Jones Day is a fun, annual event at the Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad and the W.E. “Bill” Mason Carousel at Oak Meadow and Vasona Parks in Los Gatos.  There’s so much to do – why not make a day of it?

Billy Jones Day details

  • Date: Sunday, July 23, 2023
  • Times: 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (weather permitting)
  • Price: it’s up to you!
  • Food will be available to purchase – see details below

During Billy Jones Day YOU get to name the price of the train and carousel ride! Just as Billy Jones did on his ranch*. You may donate as little or as much as you can for each ride on the train and the carousel on this special day.

*Where was Billy Jones’ ranch? The BJWRR website (link below) says it was in Los Gatos. Wikipedia situated it at the corner of Daves Avenue and Santa Clara-Los Gatos Road, which today is Winchester Boulevard. That intersection is a “T” intersection and both of the corners are in Monte Sereno now – it was incorporated in 1957, so perhaps the ranch existed when the area was a county pocket with a Los Gatos mailing address.

The Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad Los Gatos is a certified 501 (C) 3 non profit organization. They receive no outside funding and solely rely on the generosity of their valued customers.

The fabulous snack shack will be open from 11:00am to 4:00pm, with the barbecue cooking from 11:00am to 3:00pm.

Parking

There are parking lots at both Oak Meadow Park and Vasona Lake County Park. Los Gatos residents (those in the town, not just with a Los Gatos mailing address) can park free at Oak Meadow, if space is available. On summer weekends it does tend to fill up early.

There is a fee for parking at Vasona, and I believe it’s $6 per car in 2023. If you are a frequent visitor, you might want to purchase an annual pass to the county parks (nearly all of them) for $95, or $48 for those age 60 and up. It’s a bargain!

Street parking is an option, too, along University Avenue or further out. There are pedestrian entrances from University into Vasona Lake County Park.

A word on beach traffic

For anyone unfamiliar with our beach traffic issue, it’s important to add that both Highway 17 and surface roads leading to it in Los Gatos can be quite congested on weekends in summer. We used to say that it was imperative to be on the road by 11 a.m. on a weekend morning, but recently it has been much worse, so anytime after 10 a.m., possibly sooner if there’s a heat wave, could be bumper to bumper both on the freeway and a myriad of streets feeding to it – even a mile or two out, even residential roads that don’t seem to be “feeder” roads.

To avoid the worst of it, you might want to go on the early side (arrive around 10 or earlier, enjoy the playgrounds, the lake, and the sights). The flow of traffic will be impacted by the weather, so check the forecast for both Santa Clara County and also for the coast at Santa Cruz, Capitola, and Aptos, too.  If it’s foggy there, the traffic should not be so terrible here. Fingers crossed!

Alternatively, if you can, biking in is a great option!

Celebrate the man who started it all and visit the park and enjoy some rides on Billy Jones Day!

Other things to do

While at Oak Meadow or Vasona Lake County Park, there’s lots to do, including playground equipment in several places and boat rentals on the reservoir (11 a.m. to 6 p.m.). The area is quite scenic, so bring your camera (or use your phone) to snap images of family, friends, and nature!

 

Related reading:

Who was Billy Jones? Read up on the history behind this day and this railroad on the the BJRR websites. It’s historical and entertaining!

Info on the BJWRR site about this event (published first in 2018 but updated each year)