California

11 Sweet Camping Spots Near Fort Bragg, California

by Elisa Parhad
Updated August 03, 2022

camping near fort bragg california
Glass Beach in Fort Bragg, California. Photo: Shutterstock

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Located on the Mendocino Coast, Fort Bragg offers the best of the forest and the sea, making it an intriguing camping destination.

One might even argue that this area contains some of the most scenic swaths of the entire West Coast. Whether you choose a site on the beach, atop a bucolic hill or nestled into an ancient grove of trees, the scenery is epic and recreational opportunities are plentiful.

Nearby is the Jackson Demonstration State Forest, where visitors can learn about redwoods and logging history, as well as the Montgomery Woods State Natural Preserve, where you can hike among virgin redwood groves. Even closer in are several state parks offering kayaking diving, swimming, hiking, biking or simply take in the scenery.

In town you can kayak on the Noyo River or take a ride on the world-famous Skunk Train. For a more active excursion, hop onto a two-person rail bike and propel yourself along the same rails. Quench your thirst with a tall one at the North Coast Brewing Company or head to the harbor for a riverfront seat alongside some fish and chips or burgers at Sea Pal Cove.

Mendocino, another coastal gem just 10-miles south, has beautiful headlands to explore, a quaint sea village vibe and whale watching and fishing excursions. Or, there is always just enjoying your campsite and the company of those you bring along.

Whatever kind of camping trip you choose, here are 11 stellar campgrounds in the Fort Bragg area for all types of campers.

1. Russian Gulch State Park Campground

Russian Gulch State Park
Russian Gulch State Park. Photo: Shutterstock

Why you should camp here: Access tide pools, woodlands, a secluded beach and waterfall in a lush canyon setting.

  • Location: Russian Gulch State Park
  • Reservations: Yes
  • Campsite type: Tents and small RVs (max 24 ft)
  • RV hookups: No

Thirty-one campsites, including four equestrian and one group site, lie along a small creek in the 3-mile long leafy canyon that makes up Russian Gulch State Park. Views of the beach, headlands, redwoods, mosses and ferns are framed by the picturesque Frederick W. Panhorst Bridge, rising 100 feet above the gulch.

There are 15 miles of lush forested hiking and horseback riding trails and five miles of bike trails to explore. Be sure to check out the 3/4 mile Headlands Trail to Devil’s Punch Bowl (a collapsed sea cave) for spectacular views of the bridge, beach, coast and canyon.

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2. Mackerricher State Park, East Pinewood Campground

Mackerricher State Park
Mackerricher State Park. Photo: Shutterstock

Why you should camp here: Camp in a wooded setting with access to wild beauty of the Northern California coastline.

  • Location: Mackerricher State Park
  • Reservations: Yes
  • Campsite type: Tents, Hike and Bike, Group and RVs (up to 35 ft)
  • RV hookups: Yes

The three campgrounds at Mackerricher State Park offer the ultimate in beach camping in the protection of a lightly wooded area. A leisurely walk through a dune habitat will take you to the nine-miles of beach at the park, offering tide pools, trails and stunning ocean views.

The headlands are a great place to watch for sea lions, and — in the winter and spring — migrating whales. Keep an eye out for the displayed bones of a Gray Whale near the entrance of the campground.

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Related Read: 11 Enchanted Glamping Retreats in Northern California

3. Van Damme State Park Campground

Van Damme State Park
Van Damme State Park. Photo: iStock

Why you should camp here: Year-round camping with access to a scenic beach, lush fern canyon and pygmy forest.

  • Location: Van Damme State Park
  • Reservations: Yes
  • Campsite type: Tent and RV (up to 35 ft)
  • RV hookups:

The lush vegetation among redwoods with a beach setting is what makes Van Damme State Park such a gem. And, with Mendocino just an easy 3-mile jaunt up the road, lunch or dinner options are covered, if needed.

Divers and kayakers love the protected coves of the coast here, and hikers delight in the splendid Fern Canyon Scenic Trail or exploring a pygmy forest, where the tallest trees are just 9-feet high. Kayak rentals and tours are available through Kayak Mendocino, which operates a seasonal stand in the beach parking lot.

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Related Read: 12 Best Washington Coast Camping Spots for a Peaceful Trip

4. Mendocino Grove

Mendocino Grove glamping
Photo: Mendocino Grove

Why you should camp here: Stunning nature meets modern luxury at this upscale glamping retreat.

  • Location: Mendocino, CA
  • Reservations: Yes
  • Campsite type: Glamping
  • RV hookups: No

Mendocino Grove offers the ultimate glamping experience, just a quarter mile south of the charming Northern California sea village of the same name. Elevated, safari-style tents are tastefully furnished with cotton linens, warm down comforters, a fire pit and a picnic table.

The Meadow Commons offers a communal place to either chill out or tune in with fast and dependable WiFi, hammocks, seasonal live music and a bocce ball court. Enjoy the nearby Big River with a leisurely hike or canoe rental from Catch a Canoe & Bicycles Too.

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Related Read: 9 Soak-Worthy Hot Springs in California

5. Anchor Bay Campground

Anchor Bay Campground
Photo: Anchor Bay Campground

Why you should camp here: Beach camping among the redwoods at a historic family-run campsite.

  • Location: Gualala, California
  • Reservations: Yes
  • Campsite type: Tent and RV (up to 40 ft)
  • RV hookups: Yes, electric hook-ups and one full hook-up

Get back to nature at this family owned vintage campsite, set on six privately-owned acres just north of Gualala on Highway 1.

Camping adventures started here in 1925 and have been offering great beach access, kayak, fishing and hiking trails ever since. Twenty-seven campsites are available year-round, including sites on the beach and the popular four outposts tucked among the ancient redwoods.

Check out the nearby phenomena of perfectly rounded “concretions” at Bowling Ball Beach. Accessible only at low-tide and located at Schooner Gulch State Beach, this rare and wonderful sight transports you to an alien landscape.

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6. Mendocino Magic

Mendocino Magic camping
Photo: Mackenzie O., Hipcamp

Why you should camp here: This private inland campground is known for its starry skies and options to glam it up or go bare bones.

  • Location: Laytonville, CA
  • Reservations: Yes
  • Campsite type: Tent, Luxe Tent, Small RVs and trailers, Cabin and Lodge
  • RV hookups: Yes, 30 amp hookups, but not septic

Mendocino Magic is located on a private 600-acre former logging camp and commercial trout farm property, covered with redwoods and woodland forest. The camping section is sprawled over 280 acres with access to a private reservoir, a secluded paintball range and a community camper’s kitchen (that’s all in addition to 3 miles of hikes, catch and release fishing and hot outdoor showers).

Whether you want to enjoy your own little slice of nature, or host a large campout or or event, you can book furnished luxury canvas tents, drive-in tent and RV sites, cabins and even a small lodge. In August the property hosts an annual Perseids Meteor Shower Campout with astronomers and telescopes on hand to decode the mystery of the skies.

Fun factoid: Mendocino Magic was one of Hipcamp’s first private land properties on the site. How’s that for some Silicon Valley cred way out in nature?

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Related Read: An Epic Guide to California’s 14ers: Hiking & Climbing the High Peaks

7. Forest Meadow Shangri-La Retreat

Forest Meadow Shangri-La Retreat
Photo: Andrea C., Hipcamp

Why you should camp here: Views, access to stunning nature and privacy make this Shangri-La a true retreat.

  • Location: Near Potter Valley, CA
  • Reservations: Yes
  • Campsite type: Tent and Yurt
  • RV hookups: No

If you have a 4WD vehicle, head out to this 100-acre forest and meadow retreat located just off the Eel River and the town of Potter Valley. You’ll have the choice to book two private campsites and two yurts, both of which have views, fresh spring water, fire pits (check for fire ban) and access to hiking trails. The yurts have propane to keep you cozy in the colder months as well as spring-fed soaking tubs with warm water.

Check out the nearby Montgomery Woods State Natural Preserve where you can hike a three mile trail through five virgin redwood groves and a stunning fern forest.

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8. Redwood River Resort and Pub

Redwood River Resort and Pub
Photo: Redwood River Resort and Pub

Why you should camp here: You’ll be surrounded by redwood trees, plenty of amenities and a lively pub at this Northern California gathering spot for family and friends.

  • Location: Leggett, CA
  • Reservations: Yes
  • Campsite type: Tent, RV, Cabin and Lodge
  • RV hookups: Yes

You’ll find the Redwood River Resort and Pub directly across from Northern California’s quirky tourist attraction known as the World Famous Confusion Hill and nearby the Chandelier Tree at the Drive-Thru Tree Park.

Along with a motel, cabins and a lodge, campers can choose from RV, trailer and camp sites with a wide range of amenities on offer. Play in the recreation room, swim in the heated pool and explore the two private swimming holes on the Eel River. The heart of the property is the vibrant pub and restaurant where you can grab a drink or take yourself off dinner duty for the evening.

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Related Read: 10 Best Hikes in Redwood National Park, California

9. Camp Noyo

camp noyo california
Photo: Camp Noyo

Why you should camp here: Commune deeply with the woods, family and friends at this private campground on a pristine river.

  • Location: Mendocino Redwood Forest
  • Reservations: Yes
  • Campsite type: Tent and Cabin
  • RV hookups: No

Camp Noyo is the place to go for camping deep in the woods. Situated off an 8.5 mile well maintained dirt road in the Mendocino Redwood Forest, you’ll find peace, beauty and plenty of ways to spend time in nature.

The private campground offers nine camping sites, including group camping options, as well as a appointed River View Chalet cabin (sleeps 6). Campsites are fully equipped with running water, a table, food locker, camp stove, fire pit with benches, lantern, and a complete set of pots, pans and cooking utensils.

The crystal clear river will call to you for swimming and boating. Lucky for you, a variety of kayaks, canoes and rowboats are available at no charge to campers.

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10. Mendocino Redwoods RV Resort

Mendocino Redwoods RV Resort
Photo: Mendocino Redwoods RV Resort

Why you should camp here: This amenity-rich KOA-style campsite has a little something for everyone, including the family pet.

  • Location: Willits, CA
  • Reservations: Yes
  • Campsite type: Tent, RV, Cabin and Teepee
  • RV hookups: Yes

If you like a campground with the comforts of home and the fun of a summer camp, look no further than the Mendocino Redwoods RV and Camping Resort. This is a camping spot that truly has it all, including an arcade, several playgrounds, a pool and jacuzzi, WiFi hotspots, catch-and-release fishing and an outback Zen area.

Dogs are welcome here too and can get in some social time at the dog park. As the “Gateway to the Redwoods,” the area has plenty to check out, but with ice cream socials, movie nights and even a petting zoo, it’s also the perfect place to simply enjoy where you are at.

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Related Read: 14 Unforgettable Hikes in Northern California

11. Jackson Demonstration State Forest

Jackson Demonstration State Forest
Chamberlain Creek Waterfall in Jackson Demonstration State Forest. Photo: Shutterstock

Why you should camp here: Easy access camping in a “living laboratory” in a coastal redwoods setting.

  • Location: Jackson Demonstration State Forest
  • Reservations: No
  • Campsite type: Tent and Small Trailers
  • RV hookups: No

For those challenged with camp planning skills further than just a few days out, Dunlap Campsite in the Jackson Demonstration State Forest (JDSF) is waiting. This first come, first served campground is one of three run by CAL Fire in JDSF (the others are Big River and Horse Camp.)

At just a 20 miles inland from Fort Bragg and $20 a night, it’s a good spot to know about. Nestled among the giant redwoods, the site offers serenity and beauty as well as a picnic table, fire pit, BBQ and pit toilets, but no water. The Noyo River runs right through camp.

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