Located just 3 miles south of Mendocino, Van Damme State Park is absolutely beautiful. Highway 1 divides the park in half. Turn inland off the highway to enter the campground and trail area.
Van Damme Beach is west of the highway. This rocky beach is extremely popular with abalone divers and kayakers. Leashed dogs are allowed on the beach. As you stroll or relax on the beach, you might even spot migrating whales in the Pacific Ocean.
You can meet in the parking lot to enjoy a kayak tour from a private company called Kayak Mendocino. Professional guides lead you through the sea caves in the area; letting you get up close and personal with the marine life. Reservations are required.
Click here for More Information on Kayaking.
There are 10 miles of trails for hikers or bicyclists. Most come to hike or bike the lush Fern Canyon Trail. This trail winds through hills covered with ferns.
This 5-mile roundtrip trail is carpeted with ferns as well as redwoods, red alder, maple, Douglas Firs, and wild cucumber and berry bushes.
It’s an easy paved trail that is well marked. It crosses the Little River creek nine times. When this trail ends, you can continue on another mile or so to the Pygmy Forest. This type of forest is something that is very rare. The trees are all dwarf-sized due to a lack of nutrients in the soil. Dogs are not allowed on any of the trails.
The Pygmy Forest is an oddity that occurs in several spots in the county. Some visitors are fascinated by the 60 year old trees that are just a few feet tall and less than an inch in diameter, while others have no interest at all in these scrawny plants. They’re caused by acidic soil with little nutrients combined with poor root penetration.
The lower campsites are located right next to the Little River Creek. Even in the summer water will be flowing close to your tent or RV. Some campsites are more spacious than others, but the surroundings are lush and green throughout the year.
If you are looking for seclusion, try one of the ten campsites that you must walk or bike to reach.
Fun Things to Do in the Area
Definitely visit the charming ocean side village of Mendocino. Browse the unique shops, art galleries, and wine tasting shops. Hike along the shoreline. A delightful little restaurant that we recommend for dinner in Mendocino is Cafe Beaujolais It’s a house that’s been converted into a restaurant. Great service and outstanding food!
There are many wonderful wineries located throughout Mendocino County. They produce award winning wines. This is one of the leading areas for organically grown grapes. 25% of the grapes grown in Mendocino are organically grown. Most of the wineries are concentrated in the Anderson Valley along Highway 128.
Guide to the Wineries of Mendocino County
Drive ten miles north to the town of Fort Bragg. This is the largest town in the area. There are many things to do in and around Fort Bragg. Board the Skunk Train for a scenic ride through the redwoods. Make reservations in advance for this approximately three to four hour excursion.
Stroll through the gardens at Mendocino Botanical Gardens. Bring your walking shoes and your camera. Walk all the way through the gardens to the shore where you can sit and enjoy the view. There is a gift shop, snack bar, and a nursery where they sell plants. It’s beautiful any time of the year, but spring is the best time to see everything in bloom.
Van Damme State Park – Contact Information
Reservations and Information
Address: Highway 1, south of Mendocino