MENDOCINO COUNTY, CALIF. – Every November, as the flavors of fall arrive in Northern California’s Mendocino County so does the annual crop of coveted candy cap, chanterelle, porcini and morel mushrooms. Straddling historic Highways 1 and 101 with nearly 2,500 sq. miles of live oak, pygmy forests and stately redwood groves, the region is a natural hotspot for some 3,000 mushroom varieties. The annual haul is nothing short of historic, nurturing nirvana for local mycologists, chefs and fungi foragers. Add to the mix a cache of artisan chefs, 95+ wineries, a formidable craft beer and hard cider scene and the annual salute to Mr. Fungi sprouts into action.
Visitors can tap into a variety of adventures from mushroom hunts by horseback, foraging excursions, Pinot and porcini menus, educational seminars, art exhibits. The annual Skunk Train trek and cook-off deep in the depths of the Noyo River forest are always a popular attraction.
Regional hotels and restaurants offer special menus and packages throughout November.
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.
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.
Forest Road# 21S05 –
Giant Sequoia NM
From the small cabin community of Ponderosa, CA, continue N on the Western Divide Highway. Dirt road# 21S05 will be a right turn, a graded route that leads to a dirt parking lot for hikers.
The trailhead for the granite Needles is a favorite among rock climbers in the Southern Sierra Nevada. The easy 4.5 mile hiking trail is numbered 32E22 & leads out to a historic fire lookout tower, overseeing the Kern Canyon (& Road 22S82) below.
Autumn and Spring are often the best months to enjoy the (somewhat) uncrowded coastline of California. Kids are in school, summer vacation rush is over, and there is plenty of sunshine before those winter storms come rolling in.
reservations are highly recommended
Anything & any place along the coast is “much desired”, worthy of charging for. From seaside restaurants to convenient, paid parking lots – face it – California can be expensive.
Beach camping is no different. Coast camping in California is abundant, but state run campgrounds will run you a pretty penny. Camping fees are well above $20 per night. If you want flush toilets in the bathroom and a level, paved spot for a big RV, it will cost even more. Make sure to reserve a campsite as far ahead as possible. Ask about off-season months to visit.
Privately run campgrounds are often more expensive, but they might be a nicer facility and be in a better location. If you want free camping, then head to the northern part of the state – and take a dirt road to reach your seclusion. Both the Big Sur and Lost Coast both have excellent dispersed camping on backroads, at no charge, and a campfire permit is required for such camping.
Campgrounds situated on a sandy beach or right on a cliff edge overlooking the ocean. Private cove camp sites, tent cabin rentals, yurt resorts, RV campgrounds; Several coastal canyons (from sycamores to redwoods) usually have creeks and abundant camping options.
Campgrounds Beach: a popular search phrase for camping near the coast in California. The best months to camp along the coast depends on what part of California you wish to visit – at what time of the year.
With 700 miles of ocean front there is a lot to choose from – RV parks w/ small marina, 4×4 camps, hike-in only sites, and plenty of California State Parks & Beaches.
Much of the coastal camping is NOT “on-the-sand” beach camping. Most of the coastline in California is rugged, some forested and usually full of ‘wildfire prone’ chaparral. Cliffside campgrounds, redwood canyons with creeks, green grassy lawns w/ shade trees and paved camp sites, US 101 busy, freeway campgrounds; all are close enough to the shore to be considered COASTAL camping.
Even in winter, the coast can be quite mild in Southern Cal, so the campgrounds are open all year long. NorCal Coast gets the brunt of WET & COLD winter weather, so those camps are open seasonally, during warmer, drier months (APRIL-OCT).
JUNE GLOOM is a cloud layer that covers the coastline in the early part of summer. Weather is warm to cool with clouds, or the weather can be bright and sunny – if the marine layer ‘burns off’ by mid-day. Consider these local weather patterns, May Gray & June Gloom, when planning a vacation to the beaches of California.
By far, one of the best Redwood State Parks near the San Francisco Bay Area. Very popular on weekends and all summer long. Reservations are recommended. Open all year!
These are the majestic Santa Cruz redwood forests, located behind Boulder Creek, California. Off of Hwy 9, this redwood park has awesome hiking, easy access & overnight accommodations to suit your style. Stay in a tent cabin, a developed campground or use the walk-in camp sites for a real natural setting.
Big Basin Redwood Campgrounds
184 camp spots include:
74 tent campsites
38 walk-in sites
41 tent cabins
31 RV campsites (27′ max)
Additionally there are 40 hike-in camp sites & 4 group camps, by reservation.
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?
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Western Divide Highway, at 6000 feet elevation, connects the Kern River Valley w/ granite peaks, dome rock, aspen groves & the Giant Sequoia trees! This is one of the southernmost Sequoia groves in the Sierra Nevada mountains. The easy hike is more of a nature trail, wheel chair accessible & approximately 1 mile long. Large Sequoia trees, picnic grounds, near campground.
On busy weekends and holidays the rangers charge a “day use” parking fee, for those wishing to park in the paved parking lots. Avoid this fee by finding additional parking along the highway. Only a few good free parking spots along this busy 3 mile stretch of highway, and don’t forget to park all the way off the pavement.
SOUTHERN SIERRA: Great destination for camping families & sightseers traveling through the Southern Sierra Nevada mountains.
Western Divide Campgrounds
The USDA National Forest Campground across the road from the Trail of One Hundred Giants is called Redwood Meadow Campground. There is also a separate parking lot for the picnic grounds w/ a similar name.
Giant Sequoia National Monument has numerous dirt back roads for free, primitive, car camping. You’ll need a good topo map to find the best ones. Some roads may be muddy, overgrown or extremely rocky, depending on recent weather. Know you vehicles limitations. There is no tow truck service available way back here in the boonies.
Rent a cabin in the redwood forest of the north coast of California, or get a weekend retreat in the Sequoia, deep in the Sierra Nevada. Redwood inns, cottages & yurts can be found in the Central Coast region. Big Sur redwoods & Santa Cruz redwoods. Rustic hostels, historic Sierra lodges, or mountain cabins can be found in the Sierras, from Alta Sierra near Kernville, to Yosemite National Park.
Places to stay overnight in the Redwoods, or close by –
If you seek big lodges made from redwood timbers, those are the historic inns, located all over California. Redwood was harvested in California since 1850, right after gold was discovered and the masses flooded in. State officials have limited harvesting of ancient redwoods in Northern California in 1988. Logging and agricultural farms have already wiped out 96% of redwood forest that once covered California.
Sequoia trees naturally grow in the Sierra Nevada mountains, on the west side of the range. Several parks & forests make up what is known as “the Sequoias” – in the Southern Sierra, Sequoia National Forest; Giant Sequoia National Monument; Mountain Home State Forest; Central Sierra is home to Sequoia National Park & neighboring Kings Canyon NP; Sierra National Forest & Yosemite NP. Yep, all those areas have Sequoia groves!
Lost Coast California Sinkyone Wilderness State Park
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 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.
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!
Redwood forests with sweet tunes out-of-doors, at the river.
THIRTY YEARS running – this is an epic NorCal summertime music event. The celebration of reggae music in Northern California, at French’s Camp – right on the Eel River. Glorious surroundings, excellent redwoods camping all over the region!
The redwood north coast of California is very forested region with many rivers & streams running throughout. Fishing, kayaking, rafting, camping & backpacking are all superb here. The wilderness rules, as the majority of the landscape is wild & untouched by development. Mountain ranges near the north California coast span in elevation from 1000′ to 8000′. The Klamath River, Eel River & Trinity River are the predominate waterways in this region, with designated National Forest lining their canyons. There are over 10 parks along the coast that feature the redwood trees as the main attraction. The ones listed below are the inland, mountainous areas of Northern California.
As if the government wasn’t confusing enough, now they have named so many areas of the Sierra Nevada “Sequoia” that it confuses people even more. For Pete’s sake, all we wanna do is see some big trees, hike, fish, camp and really relax.
The largest trees in the whole wide world are grounded right here in Cali, deep in the forests of the incredible Sierra Nevada mountains. The giant Sequoia groves are found in several parks in the Sierra, and are not specific to just the parks boundaries. You can find them as far south as the Western Divide Hwy, up past California Hot Springs – in the newest Giant Sequoia park, and you can find them as far north as Gold Rush Country.
Giant Sequoia National Monument (the newest NationalMonument, currently administered by Sequoia National Forest)
These massive Sierra redwoods are not be be confused with the tallest trees – the California Coastal Redwoods, which are found along the Pacific Ocean, from the canyons of Big Sur to rocky shores of Crescent City. The oldest living trees are the Ancient Bristlecone Pines, east of Bishop CA
BIG RIGS: The 18-wheelers stretching as long as 60 feet, include some with special parade additions that might be tacked on: bandstand platforms, dancing reindeer, flying fish, you name it. Join in this Eureka tradition, and you’ll never think of Jingle Bells in quite the same way again. The parade starts at 6 pm at Redwood Acres and goes to about 8:30 pm. Presented by KEKA country radio – Eureka Broadcasting and local sponsors.
Cresent City in the infamous Redwood Empire of Northern California hosts the Del Norte County Fair in late summer. This traditional country fair includes livestock, carnival, entertainment, talent show, 4H exhibits & arts. This is a prime time to plan a summer vacation to the north coast. More than a dozen local redwood campgrounds nearby to choose from.
NorCal Coast near the Humboldt Redwoods, this county fair has to be one of the oldest in the golden state – over 100 years running! The scenic Victorian Village of Ferndale hosts the annual Humboldt County Fair every August. Carnival rides, games, music, food, livestock & horse races too.