The wife and kids (1&4 yrs.) and I are going to be in Mendocino in late July. Any ideas of where to camp and what to do there? (Of course I’ll be out on the boat.) Trying to find things for them to do. If something is more scenic, specific site recommendations appreciated. I need to book soon.


misc stuff

– Last Updated: Apr-23-08 3:56 PM EST –

Lots of tide pooling, which the little ones may enjoy

Skunk train is supposed to be fun.

You wife may like shopping in the little stores (though that likely would bore the kids).

On another note, Roger Schumann is running some of his tours of the caves up there on a weekend or two in July. Not sure if you have paddled up there a lot before, but if not, might be good to connect with him to get a guided tour.

Russian Gulch Campground is a favorite of BASK ( Bay Area Sea Kayakers ) It is wooded, has a creek running thru, hot showers and is close to Fort Bragg and the village of Mendocino. It is also a favorite put-in for exploring the coast by kayak. If you are unfamiliar with west coast rock gardening then I would recommend a guided tour as was mentioned in a previous response.


Russian Gulch
Russian Gulch is a great campground if you can still get in. So is MacKerricher State Park (north of Ft. Bragg), where you are more likely to get in at this late date.

If these are booked, Pomo Campgrounds in Ft. Bragg has some nice tent sites.

MacKerricher has more room and places to hike, But Russian Gulch is more cozy and very pretty - great picnic grounds with fantastic view.

On the Big River, a company rents these funky large canoe type boats that you could paddle up the river even with the youngsters I think. It is also a nice easy paddle to do yourself in the kayak.

The light house mentioned above is great. The Skunk Train is a bore IMO. There are plenty of beautiful places to hike around there. A nice drive is to go up highway 128 through the redwoods to Hendy Woods State Park (a nice place to stay, but a ways from Mendocino - in the Redwoods). Do the nature trail at Hendy Woods, and go down to the river. This is a nice trip on a day when Mendocino is fogged in.

At the base of Hendy Woods are a few wineries (Husch,) and other wineries in the area. On the way back, instead of taking 128 all the way, take a side trip to Comptche, and come in the back way.

The Pygmy Forest is a nice hike, and the headlands of Mendocino and Caspar. A meal at Cafe Beaujolais in Mendocino is a must, as well as the North Coast Brewery in Fr. Bragg. You can paddle the sea caves near Mendocino, and all the rivers in the area.

Sea Caves At Van Dam
There are numerous sea caves right off shore at Van Dam, but I would go with the guide that operates there. I went out with them last fall.

I think they are now called Mendocino Kayaks, formerly Lost Coast Kayaks.

Sea caves with two openings allow swells to pass thru. Sea Caves that dead end get explosive repercussion when the swell hits the dead end. You can hear a loud “boom” from the outside.

It ought to be pretty flat in July, anyway.

I rented a large beach house with a detached cottage on a couple acres near Casper Cove for two weeks in June this year.

Contact Jeff Laxier - LiquidFusion

Jeff lived in San Diego for several years and is well known as a great kayaking instructor. Take a class or tour with Jeff, he will know the area and get you out on the water and help you challenge your current skill set.

thanks for the good ideas/good advice!
I’ll check out everything on the list

Darn, I thought
was gonna be about Mendocino Brewing Company. Red Tail Ale -n- Blue Heron Pale Ale. Yummy. After Jan 1996, there wasn’t a single bottle left of their Christams Ale anywhere near Petaluma or Pt. Reyes for a very long time…we drank them all in the 4 months we were there for training.

all of what they said

– Last Updated: Apr-24-08 1:24 AM EST –

also the beach just south of Caspar, it's between Mendocino and Ft.Bragg, just north of Russian Gulch. One yr. old,,darn. That's kinda young for a canoe paddle but the four year old might be up for a canoe paddle up Big River, it's flat tidal river. The wind picks up in the afternoon. You might be able to pull of a one hour adventure with the four year old if you're willing to spend the big bucks for a canoe rental. The guys at Catchacanoe rent some nice Wenonas, the might have a smaller Jensen.

A long while back there was a sunny swimmming spot up Big River folks would go to when the coast was fogged in. You get to it by driving out the one road inland from Mendocino, not Ukiah Comptche, that's what CatchaCanoe is on south of town,,not 409 but it connects to 409,it goes down to a campground and then you double back 1/4mile to the river, about nine miles in I think. But maybe it was logged,,ask around. A prime skinny dipping spot then. Families etc.

Check out the arts center, there might be kid oriented activities.

Right outside of Big River on the west side of the highway is a big beach. This is the southern border of the town over the little bay. If you drive into town past Dicks Place on the right and the State Park museum/center on the left and park right where the road ends and turns right you can walk out to the blowhole and a nice beach down a bunch of steps. If you were to paddle out around there you can go through the blowhole, there are other cave's that you can paddle from one side to the other of the small outcrop islands, but don't do it if you're unfamiliar with the area or high tide.

It's a volunteer Fire Dept. and they don't need to go rescue folks who smash their heads into the ceiling of a cave when a big 1 in a 100 wave comes in.

Little Lake Rd., that's the one, go to google maps and see where it bend back towards the coast and turns into 409. Before that there's a right turn into the watershed to the river. It's all dirt at this point. Otherwise you can drive it back to Hwy1 and cross the hwy to Caspar beach.,+CA,+USA&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=X&oi=geocode_result&resnum=1&ct=title

If you want a windy drive consider the Ukiah-Comptche Road from Mendocino to Ukiah. That's where you can stop and take in Montgomery Woods, ancient growth forest. Get an icecream bar at the general store in Comptche. I don't know what's happening at Orr Springs but maybe there's some kind of food thing or accomodations.