Category Archives: Redwoods

Driving on the Beach

beach sunset

Driving on the Beach in California

Gone are the days of ‘beach blanket bingo’ where film crews glamorized California – the beautiful people, the nice vehicles, the sport of surfing and the glorious beaches. There are very few places left on the California coast that you can actually drive a vehicle on the sand, right next to the ocean. The military bases, oil corporations and the utility companies have the front row seats to the Pacific genocide, and the rest of the population is restricted with extreme limited access.

Baja California has minimal regulations on coastal access with a car. No pavement, no signs, no cell phone signal, and no help for miles – something to consider if you get stuck south of the border in Mexico. Baja has numerous places to explore below Ensenada, but asking locals is always a favored approach. Pay attention to private property signs and always close the cattle gate (if you found it closed).

silverstrand

Southern California, no beaches allow vehicle traffic. San Diego offers a sliver of sand @ Silver Strand SB, which is a developed campground for motorhomes and car campers, located right on the beach south of Coronado, CA. Fiesta Island in Mission Bay, San Diego allows driving on sand and a favorite among active dogs, but not camping is allowed. In Los Angeles you can park a motorhome at a sandy, paved campground for a hefty overnight fee. Dockweiler Beach, right near the Chevron plant and LA sewage treatment facility. Sounds delightful, not.

Ventura & Santa Barbara Coastal Regions have many awesome State Beaches, but none allow vehicles on the sand.

AWD on the sand

Central Coast California:

  • Oceano SVRA – off road sand dunes and open camping on the beach. Day use or overnight camp fee required; near Pismo Beach, CA
  • Red, White and Blue Beach – nude beach w/ campground (now closed); north of Santa Cruz, CA

Northern California:
Lost Coast

  • Usal Beach Campground – redwood creeks and forests meets coast and cliffs. Camp fee for overnight use. Long dirt road access. No RVs!
  • Black Sands Beach (OHV 4×4 trail, now closed to all vehicles) near Shelter Cove, CA

chico couple

after-the-fun maintenance tip:

Salt water and sand is very corrosive to metal – which will rust your truck or car badly. Now that you’ve had fun on the beach, we remind you to clean the underneath of your vehicle ASAP. Spraying powerful hose in your wheel wells and all underneath the vehicle. You might need to lay on the ground and get wet to do this job properly. Some car wash places might be able to do this service for you, but it will cost ya.

Marin Camping Point Reyes

Marin County Camping

Point Reyes Peninsula / Pt Reyes Campgrounds

Ocean View CampsitesOne of the most visited coastlines in the world, San Francisco – where 2 peninsulas almost meet – at the mouth of the “hidden bay”.

This is the Golden Gate to California and the Wild West.

So, you wanna escape the tourist masses… and camp out, overlooking an amazing place?

(put on your hiking boots)

lighthouse
Pt Reyes Lighthouse

Nope, the Lighthouse doesn’t have a campground! There are no camping facilities at Muir Woods National Monument, nor Muir Beach. No camping at Stinson Beach, nor Bolinas.

canoeThe Tule Elk Reserve has no camping at all. Tomales Bay State Park no longer has car camping or RV camping available; hike-in or boat-in
camping, maybe.

What is available for campground camping on “the Point” is listed below, with phone numbers and links for more info.

foggy seashore

POINT REYES, CALIFORNIA

Point Reyes National Seashore Campground
reservations required
hike-in, bike-in, and boat-in camp sites only
415-464-5100
415-464-5137

Mount Tamalpais State Park Campground State Parks
reservations required
415-388-2070camp

  • Alice Eastwood Campground
  • Frank Valley Campground
  • Horse Camp Campground
  • Pantoll Campground
  • Steep Ravine Campground
  • Steep Ravine Cabins

Marin Headlands Camping
reservations required; no pets & no RVshiker
415-331-1540

Samuel P. Taylor Redwood State Park State Parks
reservations recommended; open year round
415-488-9897

  • Devils Gulch Horse Camp
  • Historic Camp Taylor
  • Madrone Group Camp
  • Car Camping / Tent Camp
  • RV max 27′
  • Cabin Rentals @ SPT

DSCN4484

Cycling, hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, kayaking and boating are all popular outdoor recreation activities.

Small towns located on the Point Reyes peninsula do have a few private campgrounds, some of which can accommodate motorhomes. Follow towns links for those.

RV camping

There are no RV parks, camper trailers or motorhomes allowed in campgrounds on the steep coastal region of Point Reyes. Most of the narrow, winding roads are forbidden for motorhome travels. No shoulder, no guard rails, on many curvy roads. Great viewpoints are best when you STOP to look, off the roadway.

hike NPS

Golden Gate National Recreation Area NPS

Point Reyes National Seashore

Stinson Beach Park

Tomales Bay State Park State Park

Tule Elk Reserve

dockside

nearby towns – 


Santa Cruz Redwoods

hippytownway
BSA Camp Cutter

Santa Cruz Mountains & Santa Cruz Redwood Parks

overnight in the redwoods

Camping out in the Santa Cruz mountains can be a magical experience. It is here where some city dweller first get a glimpse of the coastal giant trees. Towering above in several Redwood Parks, the hiking & camping are endless. Backpacking, day hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding are all popular activities in this region.

NOTE: There is no off-roading, 4×4, OHV trails in these coastal mountains, so it will be more peaceful. Peace and quiet, remember that?

redwoods Santa Cruz

Since this mountain range is in between the Santa Cruz coastline and THE CITY, San Francisco, and situated right next to the mega-city “Bay Area”, you can always expect a few tourists about and lots of locals out enjoying their backyard (at all times of the year).

Make campground or cabin reservations as far in advance as possible. Summers are the busiest months!

State Park hikes tent camp RV

Tent Cabins
Tent Cabins: Big Basin Cabins can be arranged at Big Basin State Park. Campgrounds can be found at all State Parks and some county parks. Private vacation homes are found nearby; a few small towns on Hwy 9 offer hotel accommodations. On the coastal side of this ‘mountain’ is the small community of Pescadero w/ Butano SP.

Small towns nearby offer lodging & dining:

Big Basin Redwoods Camping

Redwood Beach Camping

NorCal Redwood Coastal Camping

Redwood Campgrounds

Del Norte County, Northern California

redwood101

There are a few special places in California where redwood trees grow right down to the shore, but it is rare. Searching for place to pitch a tent (under the redwoods at the coast) is possible, but a bit harder to find than you might imagine. State Parks usually offer the standard paved camp site. Maybe need to drive dirt roads to find redwood seclusion.

Crescent City Camping

redwoodmap

Klamath Coast Camping

blue links lead to State Park pages with camp reservations.

State Park

Redwood Park Campgrounds State Parks

Redwood National Park National Park
Camping 

  • Demartin Campground
  • Flint Ridge Campground
  • Mill Creek Campground
  • Nickel Creek Campground (backcountry)

Eureka RV Campgrounds

redwood camping norcal

If you are seeking free or dirt cheap, primitive camping on the coast, then LOST COAST CAMPING on the Mendocino border is one option. Or head east, inland to the abundant National Forest. Dirt roads of the Six Rivers National Forest offer old logging roads, creeks, and secluded places to pitch a tent. Campfire permits are needed for dispersed camping, or ‘boondocking’ as some call it.

Dirt back roads can get muddy during the wet season, so know your vehicles capability and if you are unsure, check with the local rangers over the phone (preferably a ‘field ranger’) before venturing out. Remember that rain and mud are the norm, most of the year.

Fog is typical of the region. Enjoy the sunshine – when you can!

see more towns nearby –

Smith River
Crescent City
Klamath
Orick
Trinidad
Arcata
Eureka
Scotia
Ferndale
Petrolia
Garberville
Redway
Shelter Cove

Mendocino Beach Camping

Mendocino Coast Campgrounds

villageoncliff
Tent camping directly on a sandy beach can be found at USAL BEACH – on remote reaches of the rugged Lost Coast, via long dirt roads (not recommended for RV or camper trailers). Numerous small, cheap, forested campgrounds can be found on the Kings Range (dirt) roads. The area is also known as Honeydew or the Emerald Triangle. The “emerald” comes from the color of the main economic staple, cannabis. Heed all warnings. Private Property signs and gates mean that you need to turn arund and look for camping elsewhere. (Before you hear the gun shots.)

The remainder of camp accommodations are State Parks and State Beaches on the Mendo coast, offering developed campgrounds and most are first come, first serve. 

There are no campgrounds inside the popular, historic village of Mendocino, CA , but two state parks are within a mile to the north and south side of town: Van Damme Campground & Russian Gulch Campground. Local KOA and a few private RV parks make up the rest of the scenic coastline.

Lost Coast Camping BLM

Kings Range National Conservation Area

camp on the sand

Lost Coast Bridge

Westport Union Landing State Beach

MacKerricher State Park

  • Pinewood Campground
  • Surfwood Campground

dscn0083

Fort Bragg, California Campgrounds

Cleone Campground

Hidden Pines Camp & RV Park

Jug Handle Creek Farm & Campground

Pomo RV Park & Campground

Sportsmans RV Park

Woodside RV Park & Campground

Caspar Beach RV Park Campground

Camping Mendocino Village Area

Mendocino Coast Village

Mendocino Coast –
Albion, Pt. Arena & Gualala

camp

Manchester State Park

Manchester KOA Campground

Anchor Bay Campground @ Fish Rock Beach

Gualala River Redwood Park

Redwood forest

Mendocino Coast towns:
Albion
Caspar
Elk
Fort Bragg
Gualala
Little River
Mendocino

Humboldt Beach Camping

Humboldt Camping Sites

dscn0088

The sheer beauty of real weather, the clashing storms and ocean with the land. Cold and wet half the year (or more), Northern Cal has less people and more scenery. More nature, more land, more forests, more view points, more wild beauty – than the rest of the California coast.

Maybe more hippies too!

The fantastic coastlines of Northern California are forested, rugged, rocky and they receive a lot more rain than the rest of California. Coastal fog or deep cloud layers are common, even in warmer months.

Tall cliffs, large lagoons, rural towns, and foggy beaches. Beaches filled with small rocks. No sand? Minimal access to the coast in some areas.

Super tall, coastal redwood trees thrive along this oceanfront wildness. They are located just a skip away from the sea. Most groves located miles inland, near US 101 highway. Close enough, but not out there on the windy beach, exposed with the elements.

redwood101

NorCal Coast Campgrounds are located generally along river ways, near redwood forests and near paved roads. Redwood Campgrounds are all over up here. Literally, everywhere. Some camps are better suited for RV campers than others. A few parks have walk-in or hike-in access to camp sites.

Several redwood parks are 20 miles from the coast, so know the exact location before you book a campsite online. Driving “over to coast for a quick day trip” is no easy task, since routes can be narrow backroads with many curves. Pavement, if you’re lucky.

listed below:
campgrounds actually located at the coastline are labeled in bold text

When the weather is warm and sunny, people – flock to the hidden coves, rugged beaches, or they float, kayak, fish or raft on the rivers, or the enjoy long day hikes.

blue links lead to State Park pages with camp reservations.

State Park

NorCal Redwoodsstate parks
State Parks 
& Campgrounds

Humboldt Lagoon State Park

  • Stone Lagoon Campground
  • Dry Lagoon Hike-in Sites

Humboldt Redwoods State Park & Campground camp

Little River State Beach Campground

Patricks Point State Park Campground  camp

Prairie Creek Redwood State Park camp

  • Butler Creek Walk-in Camp
  • Elk Prairie Campground
  • Gold Bluffs Campground

Richardson Grove State Park camp

humboldtSP

Some redwoods parks are open year round, others only in summer months. Reservations for campgrounds is common along this desired vacation region of California. River kayakers, mountain bikers, tent campers, avid hikers, road trippers and RV campers.

camps actually located at the coastline are labeled in bold text

California Redwood forests are found along the NorthCoast; coastal redwoods. And in the Sierra Nevada mountains; those big redwoods are called Sequoias.

see more big, old trees

redwood parks

Humboldt County Parks with Camping

 

Lost Coast Camping BLM BLM camping

USA Lumber Company

USA Lumber (historic site) & Campground

Usal Beach Campground
(on the border of Mendocino and Humboldt Counties)

Flint Ridge Campground
(on the border of DelNorte and Humboldt Counties)

 

redwood parks

Black Sands Beach, California

Humboldt towns along the coast –

(listed from south to north)

 

Lost Coast Drive Dirt Roads
Lost Coast: Drive Dirt Roads – USAL ROAD# 431, this road is the hard left off HWY 1, just as it peels away from coast and heads into redwoods and US 101. Follow this dirt and gravel scenic wonder drive out to Usal Beach Campground, Sinkyone Wilderness and Shelter Cove. The pavement picks up again near Honeydew, a rugged 30-something miles north. Real 4×4 may be needed in wet weather.

Northern California Redwoods

Northern California Coast Hotels & Camps

redwoods parksThe north coast of California is dubbed the Redwood Empire, and driving north on US Hwy 101 passing the well-known wine country and communities near Clear Lake, means you’ve entered the official redwood region of Cali.

With over 150 mile stretch between Ukiah & Crescent City, on the Oregon border, coastal redwoods thrive in this wet climate. All along US Highway 101 you can find every assortment of lodging, from standard hotels walking distance to village shops, to small secluded cottages tucked behind a winery. Sonoma & Mendocino vineyards merge on ridge lines, at the edge of oak countryside, with redwood forests & recreational rivers to the north.

BALD HILLS ROAD: Old logging roads lead way up in elevation, behind Redwood National Park, where you can find free camping spots and firewood piles all over the clearings. A real 4×4 vehicle will be needed in wet or snowy weather conditions. AWD wagons should be cautious of deep mud and know the weather conditions ahead of time. The main gravel/dirt route traverses the Bald Hills range at 3000′ elevation and ‘epic view’ campsites are abundant. Pine Creek Road drops east into Klamath River Canyon down to Klamath Hwy 96.

Bald Hills Rd

USAL BEACH: In the olden days, USA Lumber Company had a prime place on the Lost Coast. Now it is a wonderful destination w/ remote beach campground hidden in the trees, next to the redwoods and creek, and the cliffs – and a big sandy beach w/ giant driftwood!

Towns w/ Redwood Lodging in NorCal – 

Redwood Parks in NorCal –

(from south to north, with closest town)

REDWOOD MAP

 

Redwood Map Topo

Topographic hiking and camping maps of the NorCal Redwood region –

Sinkyone Wilderness

Lost Coast of California

Lost Coast California Sinkyone Wilderness State Park

NPS  King Range National Conservation Area

Redwood groves and wilderness meet the Pacific Ocean at the infamous Lost Coast of California. Northern California is NorCal – steep trails, creeks, waterfalls, ocean views, and coastal cliffs. Mendocino and Humboldt County has numerous redwood parks and picnic grounds located near Pacific Coast Hwy 1 & US Hwy 101. This particular wilderness area is located in between Westport and Shelter Cove, just west of Leggett, CA. Situated on the west side of US Hwy 101 and only accessible via a long dirt road. The Sinkyone wild lands are managed under the California State Park system.

Sinkyone Wilderness hike Ranger Station 707-986-7711

Sinkyone Wilderness access –

North end – Needle Rock: 36 miles southwest of Garberville & Redway, California. Briceland Road west from Redway, this road becomes Mendocino County Road 435. The last 3.5 miles are unpaved, steep, & narrow. South end – Usal Beach: Approximately one hour north of Ft Bragg on PCH or 15 miles west of Leggett on PCH from Highway 101. Look for mile marker 90.88 on PCH. Turn north on small dirt road; 6 miles to Usal on unpaved, steep, narrow road.

ROADS MAY BE IMPASSABLE IN WET WEATHER. RV’S & TRAILERS NOT RECOMMENDED.

  View Larger Map

dscn0147 Usal Campground

LOST COAST CAMPING

Usal Campground – USA Lumber Company staged a logging operation here in the early 1900’s. Now this remote spot is a popular back road campground accessibly only by a long dirt road drive. 4×4 and car camping only; No trailers or RV campers!

NEARBY TOWNS

Wilderness State Park

Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival

Mill Valley Shade

Mill Valley Fall Arts Festival
Mill Valley Art Fest

held every autumn at Old Mill Park,
320 Throckmorton Avenue

This Fall Arts Festival is long running and highly competitive art festival that attracts 150 artists, many local and some from as far as Hawaii and New York. Thousands of art lovers come from all over the Bay Area to this beloved festival to stroll through the redwood park and discover treasures under the trees: sculpture, painting, ceramics, photography, textiles, woodwork – over 15 media categories that are sure to appeal to all artistic tastes. The festival represents the finest collection of arts and crafts in the country to view and purchase.

Annual event: September
415-381-8090

Mill Valley, CA

mvfaf.org

Jazz on the River

Riffing and Drifting

Russian River Jazz & Blues Festival

Near 40 years of Russian River music festivities! Jazz on the River is an annual jazz event held in Guerneville CA on the beautiful Russian River on Johnson’s Beach. The Beach offers canoes, kayaks and paddle boats for rent, as well as beach umbrellas. Camping nearby and great camping all around this redwood destination in NorCal.

Annual event;  September
949-360-7800

Guerneville CA

russianriverfestivals.com

Russian River Jazz Festival

Samuel P Taylor Campground

San Francisco Redwoods Camping

Samuel P Taylor State Park

Samuel P Taylor Campground

San Francisco Redwood State Park

SamP is one the large redwood parks north of San Francisco, CA. Coastal redwoods can be found in the mountains above Santa Cruz, as well as on Point Reyes in Marin County. Hiking in the region is amazing w/ enchanted forests, dramatic fog, waterfalls, numerous trails in every direction.

This is one of the best developed campgrounds in the region for car camping and RV campers. Consisting of several loops, a group site, a horse camp and hike-in or bike-in camp sites. There are even cabin rentals in the park. This park has several camp sites that can accommodate visitors with disabilities. Reservations are highly recommended, especially during summer months. Be prepared to pay hefty fees for overnight use.

Max RV Camper Length: 31′Marin Redwoods
Max Trailer Length: 27′

  • Creekside Loop
  • Orchard Hill Loop
  • Madrone Group Site
  • Madrone Cabins
  • Horse Camp
  • Hike & Bike in Sites
    (max 8 persons)

CA State Park

Samuel P Taylor State Park
59 developed campsites
4 cabin rentals
15 miles W of San Rafael on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard
415-488-9897

 

Samuel P Taylor

Redwood San Francisco

Redwood Park San Francisco & Point Reyes

The closest redwood trees to the city of San Francisco are those of the Point Reyes Peninsula. Samuel P Taylor State Park, Mount Tamalpais State Park & the Muir Woods National Monument all have coastal redwood groves.

nearby redwood lodging can be found in –

San Francisco redwoods

If you are looking for the Redwood Forest near Santa Cruz & Highway 9 start here.

Big Sur Redwoods

big sur cabinsBig Sur Redwood Cabins & Riverside Cabins Big Sur

Do you have visions of cabins perched on rugged cliffs, along the Central Coast? Well, sorry to say, there are none for rent. Those are all private homes.

Most vacation cottages are secluded & tucked back, deep inside a redwood forest canyon nearby. Campground cabins in Big Sur span from yurt rentals on the cliffs, to rustic one room rentals in the fern forest.

The Pfieffer Big Sur State Park has cabins available, several other coast resorts offer stream side cottages, plus Ventana has a luxury Campground inside a redwood grove.

see all Big Sur lodging

self guided redwoods tour on Big Sur back roads

Gorda Cottages