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.
I’m lucky. As a kid, my parents loved to explore. At 12 years of age, my parents took me and my younger sister on a 30-day driving trip across the United States. We towed a tent trailer and stayed in KOAs, state parks, national parks, and a motel here and there when we needed the “comforts” of a $29 room. We toured presidents’ homes, Civil and Revolutionary War historic sites, state capitols, and the stadium in Williamsport PA where the Little League National Championship is played. We went to Cooperstown and saw Baby Ruth’s locker and the Baseball Hall of Fame. We went to nuclear submarine station, toured numerous museums, and spent time admiring canyons, mountains, and lakes. It was an incredible experience that also exposed me to a lot of what makes this country great.
That was one trip of many my folks took us on, and I’ve had the “travel bug” ever since. And due to the good fortune of working for a few national companies, I’ve had the opportunity to continue traveling, make friends around the U.S., and have stepped foot in 49 out of 50 states (I’ll let you guess which state I haven’t visited).
I’ve been to four countries, Mexico, Canada, Jamaica, and France..and the British Virgin Islands. And while seeing the entire world interests me…my wife Karen and I are more geared toward seeing everything THIS country as to offer. And that’s why in retirement, there’s a motorhome in our plans so we can see the entire country up front and at a pace not driven by weekends, jobs, or schedules.
We hope to see you out there.