My parents used to take my sister and I when we were small to Russian Gulch camping all the time and it was our favorite “family” spot. Over the years, I’ve been returning and returning and have branched out to MacKerricher and Van Damme as well. They’re all California State Campgrounds and are really great spots, with paved sites and bathrooms and showers.
Russian Gulch is by far my favorite as it’s nestled in a canyon with a stream running through it. Green, lush, and cozy…the campground meets the ocean at a very nice beach with tide pools to check out.
Van Damme is nearly as nice. Part of it is also situated along a stream, and there are also sites up on the hill surrounding a meadow. Hard to go wrong with either of these.
And then MacKerricher, further north past Fort Bragg, is a more open campground and several of the sites have partial ocean views. If you’re camping in a trailer or RV, MacKerricher is probably going to have the most spots to accommodate you but all three have sites for larger rigs. The reservation system lets you know as you’re making your reservations.
All three campgrounds have hiking nearby. Russian Gulch has a 6-mile round trip hike with gradual inclines that reaches a small waterfall at the turn-around point. MacKerricher has a walk on a raised boardwalk out to bluffs with beautiful views of the coast.
The town of Mendocino is small and quaint and there are no shortage of restaurants and shops to satisfy most travelers. It’s my favorite destination for just walking around or a nice dinner. Try Cafe Beaujolais…a tiny house and just fantastic food.
Try late spring, early summer, or the fall–as the summer can get a bit foggy if you miss-time your visit. Great destination–I guarantee you’ll enjoy your visit.
For some other good campground ideas in California, check out this blog…Waterbottle Weekends.
And if you enjoy photography as much as I do, check out my friend Michael Greene’s website here. He and his wife live in Mendocino and what started as a hobby has turned into a real gift for others–and recently he had his first gallery showing.