Austin Creek State Recreation AreaHosted by Stewards of the Coast
About Austin Creek State Recreation Area
With its steep ravines, lush hillsides, flowing meadows and a primeval redwood forest, Austin Creek’s rugged topography offers up a spectacle for all your senses. Really though, Austin Creek is a complete paradise for the hiker, equestrian or camper. You can bask in the heat of the summer sun or explore its rocky mountaintops which climb to an elevation of 1,500 feet. The area also has a rich diversity of animal and plant life including a dizzying array of springtime wildflowers. Austin Creek is truly a hidden gem that beckons you to come in and start exploring.
Before the early 1800s, the Kashaya Pomo people lived along the coast and what is now called the Russian River. The ocean and the river’s plentiful resources sustained the Kashaya people.
With the construction of nearby Fort Ross in 1812, the lives of the Kashaya were abruptly altered. Fur trappers from the Russian-American Fur Company arrived at the fort seeking sea otter pelts and a place to grow food for their Alaskan outpost. For nearly 30 years, the Russians employed numerous Kashaya Pomo people as agricultural laborers—many of whom lived around the fort or in nearby villages. Some Kashaya women intermarried with the Russian immigrants.
Today Kashaya Pomo and other native groups still live in or visit the area to gather leaves, roots and other natural ingredients needed to make some of the world’s finest, most sought-after Native American baskets.
Ohio native Colonel James B. Armstrong was one of the very few 19th-century lumber barons who appreciated both the intrinsic beauty and the commercial uses of the redwood groves.
In 1874 Armstrong moved to Sonoma County with his wife and family. They built their home in Cloverdale, where he invested in orchards and real estate there and in Santa Rosa. Working with crop plants, Colonel Armstrong became a lifelong friend of agricultural pioneer Luther Burbank.
Upon his arrival in Sonoma County, Armstrong began to purchase land in the dense redwood forest 2.5 miles north of Guerneville. He saw that thousands of acres of seemingly inexhaustible redwoods were being reduced to clear-cut tree stumps (thus inspiring Guerneville’s original name, “Stumptown”). To preserve some of his land from this fate, he deeded 600 acres of the ancient forest to his daughter Kate, with plans for an arboretum and natural park. The Armstrong family allowed the public to visit and enjoy the beauty of the peaceful redwoods.
Armstrong later bought the Big Bottom Sawmill and cut and processed millions of feet of redwood lumber. The redwoods he had deeded to Kate remained intact; 400 of those acres eventually became Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve (SNR).
Armstrong’s other daughter Elizabeth (Lizzie) and her husband, Reverend William Ladd Jones, dedicated the Colonel Armstrong Tree. This “monarch of the forest,” chosen before his death in 1900, commemorates Armstrong’s vision of saving ancient redwoods.
The State of California acquired the grove in 1934; by 1936 Armstrong Redwoods State Park was open to the public.
Armstrong Redwoods became a reserve in 1964, after insight into its ecological importance suggested that this vital resource should be more effectively managed. That same year, the State began acquiring the land which now comprises Austin Creek State Recreation Area (SRA) to provide camping and recreational facilities and preserve important wildlife corridors.
Campgrounds in Austin Creek State Recreation Area
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Fantastic campground! Some campsites are closers to each other, some more private. Note that sites 1-20 are shaded in the woods, while sites 21-24 are open on the pond, two totally different feelings. Loved the croaking of bullfrogs at night!
Very much echo what Chelsea Gaynor said before me: secluded campground but sites are very close together. For best seclusion, book 24, 21, 20, or 8. The bathrooms were in perfect shape, the staff was super nice, views were phenomenal. Bring bug spray.
We went camping on the Easter weekend. We loved the campground. Far away from civilization. Its already fun driving up the curvy road to the top. Great view and hikes. The Pond was almost dried out. We stayed on site 9 and really liked it. Felt nice & secluded
Pros: Right outside of Guernville, feels isolated, great views, cool setting in the forest. Cons: most campsites are very close together and have little to NO privacy. Be prepared for long, steep, one way drive into the hills, but worth the adventure! We stayed on Valentine's Day. HipCamp sent around red roses for all the campers! So cool! We will definitely come back!
- campsite #9, #21, and #24 are the most private...#24 being my favorite
- great sunset spot at the vista point on the main road just before the campsites
*if you're a light sleeper you might want to bring earplugs as the bullfrogs can be pretty vocal throughout the night
Rustic campground with spacious sites and clean bathrooms. There a 3 categories of sites in the main campground (not including the hike-in sites):
1. The drive-in sites (1-8) are along the main road when you first enter the campground. They are forested and slightly closer together than other sites, providing less privacy. There is a path that runs from around site 1 to around site 17 to get to the toilets. My choice for this set of sites would be 8, since it's on the end and gives the most privacy.
2. The reservable sites in the main area of the campground are forested. The toilets are between sites 18 and 20. The sites on the end provide the most privacy (9, 19, 20). Sites 14 & 15 and sites 16 & 18 are closer together than the other sites. We stayed in site 17 and thought it was one of the best in the area (despite having people walk by to get to the bathroom). It is a very large site, so we could only really see the neighbors on site 15 (site 19 was separated by a grove of trees).
3. Sites 21-24 (reservable) are located in the lower portion of the campground along the pond. The toilets are located across the road from site 23. Site 21 has a little bit of shade from the trees behind the site, but sites 22 & 23 are fully exposed to the sun with little privacy. Site 24 seems to be the best of the lot. It is tucked away from everything else, down a long path. There is an open area for setting up camp, but there is also shelter from the sun.
General notes on the campground:
- Bring bug spray! Around dusk, those little buggers are relentless - especially in the wooded areas on the campground.
- Make sure you check out the sunset from the upper viewing point (before you enter the campground). It's spectacular!
- No need to bring TP - it's provided in the well-kept bathrooms.
- If you want your food secured in the food locker, you'll need to bring your own lock (latches to keep critters out, but not hungry neighbors).
Beautiful camp site! The first-come-first-serve sites are big and have a bit of privacy. The pond is no longer a pond, and the camp ground is on a very strict fire ban (since 7-3-15). Dogs are allowed! Came Saturday at noon and there were 3 sites left.
Make sure to check out the big bad Colonel, Colonel Armstrong that is; Armstrong Redwood’s oldest tree in the grove.
If you’re backpacking to Mannings Flat, make sure to bring lots of water...it can get pretty warm out there.
We strapped on the packs and hit up the backcountry campsites in early October. Definitely recommend. We the run of the place, not a soul in sight. Second Brooklyn's note on water though, it's hot out there, and quite a hike back up the ridge.
Great experiences we had last year camping at bullfrog. The 2-3mls drive up to campsite was scary but worth it! Great outlook about 400 feet from campground entrance where you get to sit down and enjoy the sunset and edge of mountain and trees below your feet!
We stayed at a spot by the pond (heavenly) then had to move to a spot in the trees (not heavenly at all) the second night. We were right on top of five other sites - no privacy and it was just plain weird to be so close to so many other sites full of other campers. They need to re-design that area to spread out those sites.
What a special and delightful place! Lots of shade and nice sized spots. Each one is different. Many are on uneven ground so be prepared to go with the roll! No sinks in bathroom so toilets only.
The frogs don't come out until after sunset so be ready for fun around 9 pm. We really enjoyed catching and releasing little frogs with the kids each night.
The road in is very scary so do not attempt at night. We were there on weeknights in the summer and there was no camp host and very few campers.
Wonderful Redwood camping, with flush toilet and no shower. There is poison oak all over in the little patchy green areas, so be ware. We had the best time camping we have had in a long time. Remote, with hiking/running trails and perfect weather (altho' i am sure we were lucky, as it can be hot, and it can be foggy, so pack for all kinds of weather, as it changes quickly. layering is best, with shirts for hot weather covered with heavier and heavier clothing until you have a coat, and a wool blanket on top of that. better to be prepared than to wish you had brought more....)
We arrived at this campground slightly after quiet hours started, and the camp host camp directly out to us to check-in. She was very friendly and filled us in on fun things to do around the area.
The drive up is not one for the light-of-heart, especially not in the dark, but the remoteness is so worth it; I have never seen more stars in my life, and we met some of the most friendly people.
Bullfrog pond holds many fond memories for me. there are 24 sites and bathrooms; flushing. There is easy access to hiking trails with fantastic views of Sonoma County. The camp hosts are friendly and informative, and the bull frogs are soothing, to me, at least.
Beautiful area for camp sites. Camp sites are a short walk to a spectacular overlook and many miles of hiking trails. The sites -- except the ones by the pond -- are not very flat, so just find the fall line of the space you plan to pitch your tent and make sure your head is at top. We were there in March so off-season and it was relatively quiet (well, except the frogs after sunset, but they become like white noise and, I felt, made it easier to sleep) and no bugs. The sites are physically pretty close to each other but once everybody was settled in it feels like your site is relatively private.
The bathrooms -- just a (flush) toilet -- are surprisingly clean and always had toilet paper. Note: no sinks. The water in the taps scattered throughout is potable and tastes pretty good.
My only complaint was that the fire pits have these metal cylinders around them which are way too tall: they are nearly 3 ft tall and it really kills the vibe of a camp fire unless you make it roaring. They have a strict "no gathering wood" policy, so bring your own wood (though they also sell wood there).
This review is going to be a bit mixed. Be warned.
The Bullfrogs are so loud. So very, very loud. And they croak allll niiigghhhtt looonngg. If that's your thing, you'll love it! I couldn't sleep until the sun came up and they finally stopped.
We stayed at campsite 24. Really secluded, private, right by a bathroom and water spigot. Primo, right? Really nice little trails nearby. Beautiful views. The drive in isn't bad. Narrow, winding road but our sedan made it just fine.
Beautiful red woods. LOUD FROGS. Great views. You decide. :)
Based upon other's thorough reviews, my BF and I stayed at #20 last night and loved it! The incredibly clean restroom is between #18 and #20 but far away enough that we couldn't even see it from our site. There is a wide hook on the wall, toilet paper and hand sanitizer but no sink. There are potable water spigots everywhere. If we return, we will most likely stay at #19 which although smaller and less secluded as it is above the road, is a more level site and hopefully mosquito-free as it is a bit farther from the pond. Bay laurel trees shade the sites and the scent was just great every time I took a step on the fallen leaves. #20 has poison oak near the water but not near the main area. While my BF cooked dinner, a duck casually wandered through our site and several young deer ran through the woods. No raccoons - yay!
My recommendation would be to hike around Armstrong Woods in the morning and ensure you have firewood before heading up to Bullfrog Pond campground as the 3-mile road up to the campground is a narrow, pot-holed, steep, winding 5-mph and 10-mph road where signs alert drivers that downhill drivers will have to back up to the nearest turn-out if encountering oncoming vehicles. We were relieved we had brought firewood, as the camp host was nowhere to be found for the entirety of our stay. One neighbor was not as lucky and had to forage for wood to burn as they did not want to venture down the road in the dark. If you plan to cook a full meal over a vertical camp stove, be aware that even the picnic table and food storage locker at #20 are tilted.
Some key points: allergies were horrible, flush toilets were the nicest I've ever seen, and you can actually have a fire here! The campground is really beautiful to start with. Each site has plenty of space to fit your crew. We had number 17, which easily fit 4 two person tents. We also had site 19 which unlike most other sites, is so graded that you can only put one or two tents up. There are plenty of trails to go hiking on right from the campground. A warning: after so much rain this year a bunch of us had allergies that were out of control. I happened to bring some Claritin and allergy eye drops with me which helped a bit, but I could barely breathe the second night. If you have allergies, avoid hanging out by the tall grasses. There's a gorgeous overlook for sunset but I paid the price all night long to watch. Other people mentioned that bugs were a problem but they weren't so bad for us. The flush toilets were the best I've ever seen at a campground on a weekend with every site taken. I would certainly come back here again!
Great tree coverage and accessibility to the trails. And the best kept bathrooms I've ever seen in a public place anywhere! The campsites are pretty small, close together, and lack privacy, so as long as you aren't looking for a secluded area then these sites are nice. The ones at the end of the road have less traffic and you'll be able to be louder at if you need to be.
This is tubing country, meaning it is close to the Russian River, a prime spot to get your tube on.
Just got back from Bullfrog Pond. Unfortunately, it was a less-than-ideal experience. My law school buddies and I have an annual campout, and this year we picked Austin Creek SRA. Yesterday, we got up, had breakfast, hung out at camp, and then went hiking. When we came back we had a few beers and played some games around the campsite. Big mistake. Within minutes a ranger was at our site telling us to shut it down or leave. We were loud, yes, but no more so than the kids screaming their heads off right next door. And it was 4 p.m. And we had already paid for another night. Needless to say, we won't be returning to Bullfrog Pond, and probably won't encourage any of our friends to use Hipcamp in the future.
Cons: Stayed here during a mid-summer heat wave. It barely cooled down below 80 degrees at night even though the redwoods below were in the 60s. The pond is a breeding ground for mosquitoes, so come prepared with plenty of insect repellent.
Pros: Otherwise, fairly quiet, great views from the ridge above. Turkeys and deer walked through camp every day.
We had an overall great stay at Bullfrog Pond and will definitely be back. We stayed in site 17, which ended up feeling pretty private since the neighboring sites were not full on Sun - Mon nights. As previous posters mentioned, sites 10-18 are all pretty close together. If all were full it would have felt over-crowded for sure. Sites 17 and 18 are the last ones on a sloping hill - so these are relatively more private. Site 19 is pretty private - just know that your car is parked across the road and your gear has to be carried up a short but steep path. Site 20 looked great - very secluded. Sites 21-24 are by the pond and get full sun most of the day.
The park location is great - we loved spending the whole day in Guerneville before returning to the site. The road up to the campground has some amazing views once you get up higher in the hills. The road is a bit intimidating because it is so narrow and winding, but it is perfectly drivable in an average car during daylight hours. I wouldn't recommend arriving at the campground after dark until you are familiar with the road.
Although the park and hipcamp says that firewood and ice are available from the camp host, definitely come prepared with your own. We didn't see the camp host for the full 2 days we stayed. Also note that the sign at the park entrance always says that the campground is full, even when it is not.
We stayed at the Bullfrog Pond Campground and enjoyed the 3 days we spent there. The setting is beautiful and very peaceful. Lot's of hiking around the campground and down in the Armstrong Redwoods. The drive up the hill is an adventure in itself. I do have one suggestion though. To make the camping experience more enjoyable you should take the time and level out the camping areas in some of the campgrounds. We stayed in #16 and it was very hard to find a level spot to sit or even walk around. I understand you want to lessen the impact on the setting but I don't see how increasing the level the area around the tables and tent areas would hurt.
We stayed Thursday through Saturday at campsite 19. This was one of the best sites, with privacy and easy access to the pond (dry) and the restrooms and potable water. The weather was pleasant, never hot, slightly cool at night (bring a warm sleeping bag). The site only got hot direct sun between 11-1pm, being tucked in the trees. There are nice hiking trails right out of the campground and the star gazing was wonderful.
This is a great location, not far from Gureneville. The road up the mountain from Armstrong Redwoods is steep, curvy and poorly maintained one lane. No trailers allowed. The campground itself is not very private , dusty and noisy. But it has potable water and accessible bathrooms. Great hiking from there. 7/16
Although the road is VERY narrow, steep and windy to the campground, this is a bonus in that you don't have to worry about camping next to any RVs! The campground and panoramic views from on top the ridge were a welcomed retreat from crowds in Guerneville below, while still a relatively close drive for eating out or enjoying the Russian River. The campsites on Bullfrog Pond itself were VERY exposed while the others were generally very shaded by pine tree cover, but close to one another. All in all it was a very convenient way to enjoy being "on" the Russian River while camping above it.
Bullfrog Pond Campground is the perfect place to set up a hammock, read and nap. Site 13 had a lot of daytime shade and enough trees to set up two hammocks. If you are looking for more movement, this campground would be a good home base for hiking in the redwoods or tubing along the Russian River.
Bullfrog Campground was incredible. To this day it's one of the best sunset spots I've ever been to. The frogs are definitely loud but in a therapeutic way. We stayed at campsite #24 in the back corner. It was shaded and quite private. I would highly suggest it to anyone going.
Beautiful setting with immediate access to views and miles of hiking. Trails are steep in places, but mostly two-track, so hiking is rigorous, but not treacherous. Campground itself is pretty luxe--paved access (albeit up a winding one-lane road, but the ores are great and it adds to the adventure); two sets of two flush toilet; several potable water taps; and picnic tables, food lockers, and fire rings (fire ban permitting; buy wood from the campsite host). Most sites are at least mostly shaded by some gorgeous trees, though 22 and 23 are full-sun on the pond (but more spacious--horseshoes, anyone?). Check the site map to find your favorite number. Drop by the Russian River for a dip on your way home. Not the most private camping around (though the campground host takes quiet hours very seriously, so rowdies get a talking-to at 10 pm sharp--handy), but some of the easiest and prettiest. Rather perfect getaway.
this is a lovely site, far from the maddening crowd. there is poison oak to watch for. if you do not spot it easily, avoid walking or touching the green leaves. wash with tecnue or a similar product.
the road is not for those who do not drive easily on "country roads." it is a country road times ten. single lane and windy. just drive slowly, honk at the blind curves, and be ready to back up if you are coming down the hill.....
we camped in the trees and the shade on a hot summers day was wonderful. the camping fed the soul and let us connect with friends and friends of friends.
We stayed in site 23, next to the last one by bullfrog pond. We had the restrooms across the street from us, the water right in front of the site. It was really warm the whole time and we had "1" tree on the site. We did have a 12x12 foot canopy over the table, the tent was in the shade of that tree, which wasn't much but it was perfect. We had our 2 small dogs with us and they were fine with the accomodations.
Well laid-out campground. Quietly tucked away from the main Russian River crowd, yet easily accessible for Bay Area folks (like my group). Good trails from the campground -- go west for the good views and streams. Why we come back? Stunningly, heartachingly beautiful sunsets.
Spent a lovely evening under the stars at the Bullfrog Pond Campground. Warning: the uphill drive from Armstrong Redwoods to the campground is an adventure itself! It's a windy, single-lane road so passing cars (going up/coming down) cab be challenging, it's worth it for the beautiful views and serene camp sites though!
The sites in the woods are somewhat cramped so I recommend camping at the sites around the pond where there's more space/privacy. Back country camping is also available.
All the reviews that mention the road up to the campground are not exaggerating. I was driving an F150 pickup and it seemed that at times, there wasn't much room for error. There are long stretches in which there is no room to pull over for oncoming vehicles; crazy! With that said, the campground was well kept and the bathroom was clean. The 'pond' didn't have any water, but it did have bullfrogs (mid-August) and we saw a group of 5 deer by it so that was cool. The best part was leaving early, to avoid oncoming traffic on the crazy road, and stopping at the viewpoint near the entrance of the campground. You face west and the valley below was full of clouds, yet you are above them and the site was breathtaking. If one lane roads with two way traffic and few and far between pull outs don't scare you, then this is a place for you.
We loved being there for there last weekend. Site #24 is so wonderful- private, shaded and also sunny, near the bathrooms and the pond. Even with no water in the pond and fire restrictions in effect, our group loved being there. Lots of great hiking. Quiet. Peaceful.
Great site, well maintained, surprisingly clean bathrooms (flush toilets are such a luxury!). While you can't use the trails if you have a dog, a quick 10-minute drive down to Armstrong redwoods and the paved paths in between the trees and picnic area are dog-friendly. Site seems to be pretty kid-friendly so it can get a bit noisy during the day depending which site you pick. We will definitely be back.
We had a lovely time at Bullfrog Pond. Got there on the Thursday before labor day and were one of only three campsites that had campers! It fills dup a bit more on Friday but was still very quiet, very clean. Do watch out for yellow jackets, through, a bunch came out when we cooked some sausage over our camp stove. No campfires allowed due to drought so the camp stove was a necessity, but the campground is great, really feels immersed in nature and secluded even though it's only 20 minutes from town. We brought little kids (ages four and six) and were able to do some small hikes in Armstrong but the longer trails looked fun (someday!) and the views from the Vista point picnic area just before entering the campsite are awesome, great place to watch the sunset.
Road in is interesting; wouldn't wanna do it in the dark; campground is clean; restrooms clean with flush toilets, no sink; it's a good 10 degrees warmer in camp than in Guerneville; most sites pretty heavily shaded; hiking trails either go up then down, or vice versa; host very friendly and helpful; bugs not bad really; few bees, but not excessive. We'll go back, but in April/May, or Oct./Nov. Prefer a little cool than a little warm. Beautiful area - lots of awesome vistas. Great one or two nighter.
Peaceful, isolated (up a winding, narrow road), very clean campground. Potable water did not taste great-- recommend bringing own water for drinking. Restrooms have flush toilets and hand sanitizer-- no sinks. Beautiful spot. Looking forward to returning to this campground.
It was a great time at Bullfrog "Pond" (in quotes as there was no water in the quite dry October conditions). Great facilities at this campground and nice hiking trails through the steep terrain of the oak forest and down to the redwoods. We stayed in Site #24 at the end of the road. It's a bit more private, but you have to carry your belongings from the car down a small incline. Larger groups might have a better time getting adjoining sites in the shaded part of the campground as they are closer together and good for sharing.
Great spot for an over night trip to wine country. The campground is about 20 minutes from campsite to Guerneville. We stayed in campsite #19 - it was big enough for 1 tent - the rest of the site was a little too sloped for another tent. Fire pit and table were great, but the cabinet/ bear box was too small for a cooler. Spot #19 was private enough - good distance from the road. As another reviewer mentioned, you have to park across the street and carry everything about 20 feet to the campsite. The pond didn't have much water, but the view of the sunset from the entrance of the camp was amazing. If I went again, I'd try to get site #21 or #24.
Had a great one night stay at Bullfrog Pond. We stayed in site 15 which as other reviewers stated is quite close to the adjacent sites. It was my first time camping though, so this was comforting for me-and it was in good proximity to the very clean bathrooms! The only issue was that the camp host wasn't at their site (#4) each time we tried to check in between 3-6pm. We were anticipating buying firewood from the host since it was advertised as being available, but the host never showed to our knowledge. Another camper said that she walked around the night prior around 7pm checking folks in so we waiting but she never came around. Were able to scavenge some leftover firewood from an empty campsites firepit so we got kind of lucky there -- point being, I'll bring firewood next time!!! Overall a very positive experience and will definitely return and recommend.
We had a wonderful experience at this campground! Be prepared for the 3.5 single road that scales the cliff up to the camp sites. Great hiking, lots of trees, spacious camp sites, and drinking water available! If you forget firewood they have some available to purchase on site. Loved Bullfrog Pond!
Our stay at Bullfrog Pond was quite pleasant. The drive up into the park was a bit rough on my little sedan, but the views were breathtaking. The campground itself was well taken care of. My wife and I stayed at campsite #9 which offered a decent amount of privacy for a fairly crowded campground. While the toilets had some clogging issues at first, the campground staff took care of that by bedtime. The pond was mostly harder mud (still being in the time of draught recovery), but it was a nice little area to look at.
Bullfrog Pond Campground is fantastic - we stayed on a chilly night in January and the place was nearly empty. From our site #21 there were trails leading to wonderful ridge top views overlooking Austin Creek State Park. The bathrooms were clean and the grounds well maintained. The pond was full this time of year and the bullfrogs were out in full force, but it was never too loud to disturb our sleep. Firewood is available for sale at the ranger station and each site has a fire ring, picnic table and food locker. As others have mentioned, the road up is narrow and winding, so getting there is half the fun. Highly recommended!
We stayed here over NYE weekend! It wasn't packed at all, but it WAS freezing! It's a super beautiful area with tons of trails to explore (I wish I had known this!) and views to enjoy. The pond had water in it and the frogs were so loud and fun! It's true that the spots are closer together than they need to be, but there are definitely certain camp sites that are better than others. If you look at the camp map, it's not hard to see what ones are good :)
Stayed at site #10. Nice, small area, with a well worn space for the tent. May be a bit too close to neighbors, if we had any, but the (1) parking spot right at the site was nice. Some nice hikes out from this area.
Be warned, there is a steep, single-lane dirt road that leads up the mountain, to the campsite; large, or more sport-like cars beware.
Restrooms had full on toilets, but do not provide running water. There are potable water sources dotted through the campground though.
Guessing there isn't bear danger, as the food lockers were really just wood cupboards attached to each picnic table. Fire pits come with a small section of iron to flip onto the top for grilling.
We came in for New Year's, and it dropped to around the mid-30s during the night. Placement of the site was such that wind wasn't really much of a concern, but the sites nearer to the pond may have gotten more of it. Note that the bullfrogs are really, really vocal - if you are a light sleeping, bring earplugs.
Would go back, for sure. although maybe for the backcountry sites - $35/night for neighbors 30 feet away isn't really very enticing, if you stay at one of the lower numbered spaces.
My boyfriend and I had a great time at this campground - it exceeded all expectations. Our spot for the night (#19) was perfectly secluded on higher ground, had a nice, yet wooded view of the pond, and was close to the bathrooms, water and the trash/recycling area. We also went for a short hike starting at the East Ridge Fire Road that had STUNNING views of the mountains. Definitely recommend that hike and this campground.
Great campsite. If you are looking for sun you want to select 21,22 or 23. 21 being the best
24 is very scheduled and on the pond.
The rest of the campsites are in the woods which is fine, we were on campsite 20 which was very schluded.
Will 100percent be coming here again it was great. With good toilet facilities.
This is a nice clean well managed campground.. We were there in winter so we chose camp site 23 because it is not in the trees and we wanted to be able to get warm in the morning. It is very exposed and right next to the pond and has one or two small-ish spots that would be good for a tent. I have a Honda Element that I sleep in and the parking space for either of the campsites 22 and 23 are not flat enough to sleep in a car. I parked on the asphalt turnaround adjacent to the camp spots. This could be a concern if you are a car camper and it is really busy during the summer where you might not be able to grab a piece of asphalt. The grassy area that is the camp spots would be perfect for horseshoes or frisbee because it smooth and grassy. Nice fire ring but the grill could use replacing. The toilets are very near which are flush and always kept very clean as is the recycling bins and trash dumpsters. As for the campsites up in the trees, the whole campsite is on a downslope but would be ideal during the hot summer months. Looked like sites 10,11,12 reserved together would be great for a big party. Enjoyed our stay.,
We loved our stay at Bullfrog Campground, it's a beautiful spot. We stayed in site 19, which was secluded and near the bathroom. You can't park right next to it, just across the road and down a short path. I'd say the best spot is probably 24 (in a hidden spot between the pond and the woods). We went in the off season so the campground host wasn't there, so we couldn't get firewood. The campground itself is way up in the hills, far from everything. The stars were incredible the night we went.
We loved this spot and would stay here again! It's a bit of a scary drive up a one-way road to the camp spot, but it pays off. Most of the campsites are nestled in the redwood grove, and there's a nearby stream and pond. The bathrooms are really nice and a guy comes around at night to sell extra wood. Lots of hiking trailheads nearby and a short walk to a beautiful vista point with rolling hills - an ideal spot to watch the sunset. We stayed at campsite #17 which borders the stream and is close to the bathrooms. Camp sites #20, #21 and #24 are also nice spots that are secluded, surrounded by trees and in close proximity to the pond.
Such a beautiful place, rain or shine. We experienced both and loved every minute of it. We stayed at Campsite 21, which was a little more secluded than site 22 and 23 at the end, but still easily accessible. There were a few trail heads that started right outside our tent door. We loved the sound of running water and the frogs at night. We'll be back and highly recommend to others.
This place is gorgeous! It is a cathedral of redwoods and the rangers were very kind and helpful. There was a fire pit and bathrooms up the road from our campsite. We didn't stay long because the ranger told us of a flash flood warning! Overall I can't wait to make it back up here on a sunny weekend to go fishing and camping!
I camped here with 5 friends and we LOVED it. IF you're coming with a larger group you definitely can't beat the value. It was a gorgeous drive through Austin Creek and the views around the campsite were spectacular (sunset especially). Firewood was easy to get, the bathrooms were clean and pretty nice, and the sound of frogs from the pond lulled us to sleep. Site 15 where we stayed was are large enough for 3 tents and 2 hammocks, but just a heads up it's a bit close to the neighboring sites. Wish I was back already.
as other camper noted the sites have very different qualities and that's not really reflected in the site selection overview. The sites down at the pond 20-23 are mostly out in the open so without tree coverage but very secluded from the rest of the camp. The sites 1-8 are walk ins and somehow private. The sites 9-19 though are relatively dense with 11 and 12 being the closest together. We booked a night at site 12 as it seemed to be somehow detached from the surrounding but it's basically like camping on a pedestal in the middle of the camp with in our case bad luck of a 10 people group that staked their ground with police band and used both parking spots right next to us, maybe 20 feet away, listening to music and drinking. You can always have those situations of course but in that case we got lucky that site 1 remained empty and we moved as fast as possible. The ground is all about selection, I would not recommend the 9-19 sites if you're looking for much privacy, 1-8 and 20-23 are awesome.
It's a great place to tent camp. Come prepared for no showers, although plenty of water and flush toilets. Making a reservation costs you $10 per night extra, which is a ripoff. Hey we all want to goo the woods, but at $35 per night it's almost too much. Even $25 per night is up there, but you are paying for the beautiful trees.
Very secluded campground amidst the trees. Most campsites are closely placed which doesn't provide much privacy for weekends/holidays when it's busy but if you're looking at a weeknight stay, this Bullfrog is perfect. We stayed on a Sunday night and there were only 4 campsites taken, so we had our pick & chose #2. It's the site closest to the entrance so only a short walk to the vista point + it's further away from the pond so less mosquitos (at least from what we experienced).
We stayed at site 14, booked about a week in advance for the beginning of Easter weekend. On Thursday there was no one around and I wish I could have enjoyed it more instead of worrying that neighbors could show up any minute. Friday, the campground filled up. I would recommend weeknights when it would be less crowded. For our second night, Friday, we were VERY close to our neighbors at site 15.
Hiking was amazingly beautiful but was strenuous and seemed to be farther than the map showed. We also hiked around Armstrong redwoods on the way out and this experience was great. I learned more about the redwoods than I ever knew, even when living among them 20 years ago. I was like the Muir Wood of Sonoma.
The drive up and down the narrow windy road was harrowing but not as bad as people describe it. Luckily we ran into very few cars on the road.
Lastly we had very few mosquitoes, but I'm sure that had to do with it being mid-April.
Great site! No issues at all. well maintained campground with gorgeous views nearby and friendly staff. We really enjoyed star gazing and hiking during our stay. The bullfrogs at night helped put us to sleep like lil babes. The place is pretty lively as the grounds were full during our entire stay. Loved it we will be back soon. Bring some eucalyptus bug spray and cintronella and you're set!
This place is magical. Just stayed there a second time. First time I had a site among the redwoods but this time chose one of the spaces by the pond. Two totally different feels (forest v. meadow). Be warned that ticks are known to also enjoy the meadow, so choosing it involves a degree of calculated risk in that regard (we didn't personally see any on April 30/May 1). Campground has toilets, water, firepits with grill rack, picnic tables and food storage lockers, but still feels very natural and relatively quiet (by the pond, the sites are spaced even farther out and seem even more quiet). Rangers/host have been very friendly on both stays and you can buy wood on site. So many stars to see, remote magical sunset hikes to be had just out the road, and more populated, easy walking to do in the redwood park down below. Really close to Guerneville but seems a world away due to the change in elevation and the curvy, slow-going road. I will be back!
Overall, this is a great campground, near a number of wonderful views and hikes and with helpful staff on site. We were in campsite #20, which was further away from other sites, and it was really pretty. The sites here that are closer together are great for group camping, but if you want privacy from what we saw #20 and #21 were both pretty ideal--the closer together ones might be too close together.
We enjoyed our camping trip of Sunday and Monday night at bullfrog pond. There are a few conditions people should be aware of before camping here. Experienced campers probably won't have any trouble. The very narrow one way,3 mile road up to the camping area is a little daunting, and we have driven on many roads around the world that are worse! Was glad we had all wheel drive! We drove up at 4:30 PM, were surprised that there were at least 10 cars driving down the hill to leave the campground! Probably people that just went up for day use and were leaving for dinner. But not everyone wanted to pass in a safe manner, just forced their way past and almost scraped our car or broke off our rearwiew mirror! (And we moved as close to the hillside as we could) So, be warned! Uphill drivers usually have right of way, but not always a reality. Most of the campsites are shaded by beautiful redwood trees, you will hear wild turkeys gobbling in the morning and melodious bullfrogs croaking at night, it was absolutely wonderful! Even though we knew to wear long sleeves, long pants and knee socks, using strong bug spray, we were still eaten alive by mosquitoes that leave quite large red welts. To be fair, we expected this, it's the outdoors and "pond" is after all in the name of the campground! Not all of the campsites have level ground, even for a very small tent so you might be sleeping at an angle. Some of the ground is quite rocky with too many sharp, good size stones to just pick up and throw out of the way, a pad under your sleeping bag will help. They have made a good effort to level the picnic tables at the sites, which was nice. There is potable water here and there throughout the area, it has a bit of a rough taste so you might want to bring bottled water to drink and or make coffee/tea. However, when we used it to steam vegetables and make rice it did not flavor of the food. There are no showers, sinks or running water in the restrooms, but the toilets flush. Bring a flashlight at night though as there are no lights either. The restrooms were always clean and stocked with toilet paper. Some of the campsites are very close together, not a problem for us as the campground was only half-full when we were there. If you are unlucky enough to get neighbors who like to play loud music or talk late into the night, it might be a problem. The campground caretakers were always friendly, the wave and say hi even if they're just driving through. We had a great trip, but if you are less experienced campers this might not be the campsite for you. There's lots of hiking, a beautiful overlook to watch the sunset and some of the sites really are lovely next to the redwood trees, but you should have a smaller tent(we don't, so had to use one of the end sites). I would like to camp here again, but we would probably not come on a weekend when it's crowded. Or we would try and come midweek. Also from some of the other reviews, we knew to buy firewood down below at the ranger station as there is often not a camp host(they were "off duty" for a week when we were there in May). Gathering firewood is not permitted in the campground.
This is a well-spaced and beautiful little campground - some spots set under redwoods, some under oak and bay trees, and a couple sit in the grassy meadow next to the pond itself - choices!!! This is a great place for amphibian lovers - five types of frog live there, and they are literally everywhere around the pond (our site was #20 and we had them hopping by our tent each night) and to see aquatic garter snakes too.
The drive up to the campsite wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it'd be, and the campsite itself was so much more user friendly than we expected! Each spot has a good sized wooden picnic table, a fire pit (ours had a little half-grill topper thing, you can put a kettle on it!), a designated parking spot, and is nearby a water tap and a super clean restroom (equipped with toilet paper and hand sanitizer!). There were a lot more day-visitors than I expected-- mostly people hiking, but not too many campers staying overnight. The amount of traffic was nice for people who are new to camping... you feel secluded but know there are people around if you need help. There are a lot of mosquitos so definitely pack citronella candles and bug spray!
I stayed on site 24 which is next to the bathrooms but down a good path so very convenient and out of the general area of smell. This campsite is alive and by which I mean the bullfrogs hence the name I suppose the male bullfrogs competing with one another all night and they make the craziest sound some kind of mating call I suppose but entertaining and along with the frogs and wildlife is very easy to fall asleep to. Now this place literally was in a cloud by 930 at night it was very interesting it started a light mist almost looked like rain but not too bad. Lots of trails and potable water right up a little hill from the campsite itself. Saw a few deer in the morning time drinking from the good size pond adjacent to the site that was pretty neat. Now the road one must take to get to said campground is nice and steep and pretty narrow manageable but the cliffs are a little sketchy but the views make you forget all about it instantly .
Great mellow campground. Clean toilets. Nice camp host. Remote location means little in/out car traffic. Great views on short hikes. Sites 21-24 are more exposed to the sun. All others are shaded in redwoods. You decide what fits your needs. No showers no cell service (unless you climb the ridge). But that doesn't matter. Keeps the kids focused on having fun
Bullfrog Pond was a really nice campground. Camped there with the kids and another family on Memorial Day. Site 12, not too far from the only restrooms. The map doesn't really give you the feel of the place. It's all going downhill towards the pond from site 1/the vista point parking lot. Except for the sites near the pond, there's nice shade from the trees. Kids had fun down by pond. The bullfrogs are crazy loud. All in all, a nice location to get away!
Absolutely beautiful site, and very family friendly. We were camping with a bunch of children and the poison oak surrounding our campsite was problematic. I will choose to camp elsewhere with my toddlers and return to Bullfrog pond when my littles are old enough to stay away from it on their own.
This is a gorgeous spot which happens to be right in my backyard! The camp host was super helpful and the facilities were very clean. I will say that there is a lot of poison oak this year and if you are camping with small children keep in mind that there are only a few potable water spots. No water in the restroom or light! It is a bit tricky with the small children 4 and younger!
Russian river is always lovely. Late May weather was perfect, warm enough to not be hot but not stinking yet. Frog noises were minimal/non issue. The mosquitoes were killer though! Our site 19 is great except it's on a hill so if i had to pitch 2 tents it would have been a bit challenging.
The location is beautiful. Unfortunately dogs are not allowed on any of the trails so you can't do any hiking with your dog unless you are on the road where cars drive (totally not dangerous at all).
In addition the camping sites themselves are located extremely closely to one another and there are lots of families with very loud children running thru the campsite all hours of the day and night lol. Keep that in mind when booking.
If you aren't looking for peace and quiet in the wilderness, meaning you don't mind oud campsites next to you, then this is the place for you.
Very pleasant, quiet (weekdays) spot. Road up is crazy steep one way with amazing views at the top. The frogs croaked all night! Spots by pond are in full sun in the morning, the rest are in the forest. We took a great hike but it will be getting hot any day now so go early, take water. The big trees in the valley are amazing. We also took the self guided canoe trip at Burke's in Forestville. Very fun. Ten miles of paddling downstream then they shuttle you back to your car. Saw lots of ducks with baby ducklings. Sweet!
Loved the campsite. Beautiful setting. The mosquitos were definitely active, so bring bugspray. We stayed on campsite 21, which was smaller then expected. Good for two big tents. It was partly shaded, but enough to stay cool. You can buy firewood from the campsite host. There was poison oak on the edge of our campsite, so keep an eye out for that. Overall a great experience, would definitely camp there again!
Thought the campground looked pretty good from online, love the location up past Armstrong redwoods, unfortunately, SO many mosquitos we packed up after one night and went to a different campground by the coast. Lost money on the multiple days we didn't stay but well worth changing as we were covered in bites. Wish it was less infested....
It is incredible beautiful. There is old growth redwoods at all the camp sites.
The road up is a little crazy. It is literally one lane, 3 miles and an 1000 foot climb.
Bullfrog pond is full of bullfrogs. They croak-honk all night. It sounds like a combination of a cow mooing and and a truck honking. We recommend camping away from Bullfrog Pond.
We absolutely loved our time at Bullfrog Pond! The campsite is beautiful and serene, and the view of the sunset from the lookout point at the top of the mountain is truly breathtaking. I highly recommend campsite #24 which we stayed at. It is the most secluded from the rest of the sites and nestled into a little redwood grove, while still being close to the facilities and the pond.
A couple things to note...the campsite's proximity to the pond means that the mosquitoes are everywhere so be sure to bring your bug spray! Also, the bullfrog calls were very loud and lasted all through the night, which we enjoyed but might be less enchanting to those who are light sleepers. Lastly, we arrived around 5pm and the site host was gone for the day so we weren't able to buy firewood on site. That said, I'd recommend coming prepared with your own supply or finding out ahead of time when the host is on site.
Other than those few things we loved our experience and would definitely recommend/go back to this site!
Nice quiet campground. The bullfrogs are cool. A little too much poison oak for a parent to relax while kids are running around, but that's how it is throughout California. The road up there is something, though, if you have a big (long) car, you might need some luck :)
Beautiful scenery but very hot in July. Also, bullfrogs kept me awake at night (site 20). Road is crazy to get to the top. If you get nervous on steep, windy mountainous road, this is not for you. If you seek adventure, you'll love it! We got multiple warnings about rattlesnakes but never saw one. Overall, very beautiful spot.
We had two campsites, and one of our grills was broken. If we had only had the one campsite, I am not sure how we would have cooked. Otherwise it was a great camping trip--The campground is beautiful. The camp host was very helpful, and the other campers were very nice. You do have to drive up a windy, single lane (2-way) road for several miles up the mountain. It was quite terrifying but worth it when you see the views at the top!
Great campground. It's a hidden gem!
Pros: Secluded, Warm in the Summer, Beautiful, clean toilet facilities and polite staff. Lot's wildlife and croaking Bullfrogs.
Challenges: Bullfrogs might be too loud for some. Drive up is a little slow/tricky in non-SUV/Truck vehicles.
Overall a great experience!
The Campground is lovely, though amenities are basic, toilets only, and be warned the drive to get there is long and steep on a tiny single lane road. Our poor old car had to take a break at one point to let the engine cool down. It's all part of the adventure in getting there though and it was nice to still be a short drive from the Russian River.
Our campsite #16 didn't have enough flat space for 3 small tents. My friend woke up in the middle of the night with his door facing the sky because of the grading. On the plus side the views are spectacular at the vista point. We also checked out the pond during the full moon and were able to start a fire in the evening. It was hot during the day, the day we got there we were told that fire restrictions would be in effect in a couple of days. The bathrooms although in the middle of nowhere are flush toilets.
It is a pleasant campground. I would highly recommend a preview of the location. The road in is rather scary. Once you are there, you don't want to drive in or out unless very necessary. Also, check the sites. I booked one in the 20's and found it to be the hottest, least shady and much too close to the pond. With a little more knowledge, I would have been very pleased. BTW, they let me change sites because it was not full. 8-18 are very nice.
Pretty peaceful place. A nice bullfrog soundtrack playing all night long. Wild turkeys roaming the site. Some aggressive bluejays, but unlike some other campgrounds we didn't encounter any midnight raccoon foraging. There is a campfire ban in effect as of July 11th, 2017. So your marshmallows have to be roasted over the propane stove!
We stayed at this campground many times before, some 20 years ago. We loved it than and we loved it now. The campsites differ -- many among tall redwoods and manzanitas, and some around the bullfrog pond. There are hikes around, and our favorite ones are down the hill to the creak, where you can find soaking holes. Remember, it is hot, especially ion the way back. Other than hiking, you can just hang out. There are lots of families with young children and families like ours, with older children. Everybody is super friendly. We would like to thank Chris, a camper from Canada, who shared his bug repellent with us. There were some mosquitos for about 30 minutes around dusk, and some flies in the afternoon. The sunsets viewed from vista point are brilliant. Guernavville -- about 20 minutes drive down the hill has become quite a foodies mecca -- like several restaurants -- in particular Korean food served at dinner time at Pat's diner.
Campsite was great! Bring bug spray.
We camp fairly often so I will warn even the most versed campers of one thing:
The blue jays will drive you nuts. They rip apart anything (read deck of cards, brand new paper plates, etc) you leave lying in the open.
Apart from the blue jays in need of discipline, the site felt remote, it was beautiful and the kids really enjoyed seeing the frogs, turkeys, and deer while we were there. All a short 15-20 minute drive from Guerneville!
We had a nice time camping at Bullfrog Pond. Like others mentioned, its kind of a crazy drive up but has amazing views. The campground is extremely well kept. Although basic, the bathrooms were spotless and always had toilet paper and hand sanitizer. We were there less than 24 hours and saw at least 3 maintenance people emptying trash and keeping the campground very nice. We were over by the pond and saw a whole bunch of deer, frogs, and wild turkeys. We heard some bullfrogs but they were very quiet the night we were there and did not disturb us. We also did not see any poison oak near our campsite.
We were in site 22 and I would definitely not recommend that site or site 23. Both sites are very close to the lake and are right on top of each other and have absolutely no shade. We were miserable and roasting without any shade for our tent or picnic table. There was also no level place for a tent. We also had an extremely loud group nearby that was up making a ton of noise until about 2 am! I really wish the camp host would have done a drive around the campsite after quiet hours started and asked noisy groups to quiet down. The mosquitos were also intense right around dusk and we were eaten alive even though we had on bug spray.
I don't want to make it sound too negative though. I think the rest of the campsites, other than 22 & 23, would be totally fine. It was gorgeous and secluded.