Mendocino National Forest

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About Mendocino National Forest

Not many people know about the Mendocino National Forest, not to mention the fact that it is the only California national forest that doesn’t have a paved road or highway running through it. There’s excellent bird watching, angling, boating, whale watching, and absolutely spectacular backcountry. The four wilderness areas are Yolla Bolly Middle Eel (yeah, it’s a mouthful), Yuki Wilderness, Sanhedrin Wilderness, and Snow Mountain, and everyone who enters comes back amazed. If you’re looking to camp in a secluded spot, away from any traffic noise, you’ve come to the right place.

Campgrounds in Mendocino

Letts Lake Campground

1. Letts Lake Campground

Conifers—the word from Latin meaning “to carry (pine) cones”—surround this charming lake that invites you to relax and sit back in ease. Letts...

Gregory
Gregory: Lett's Lake is a beautiful lake chuck full of feisty largemouth bass right on the edge of the Mendocino National Forrest (MNF)....
74 Saves
Mill Valley Campground

2. Mill Valley Campground

Letts head to Letts Lake and snuggle into Mill Valley Campground. These primitive campsites one mile north of the Lake will help you explore the...

Karissa
Karissa: Great spot! We originally planned on camping at Letts Lake, but found the CG way too crowded and cramped. Drove just a few...
23 Saves
Eel River Campground

3. Eel River Campground

Located on the western slopes of the Mendocino National Forest, Eel River Campground lies at the junction of the Black Butte and the Middle Fork...

Gregory
Gregory: Beautiful location above the Eel River right on the edge of the Mendocino National Forrest. I would stay here to break up a...
12 Saves
Bear Creek Campground

4. Bear Creek Campground

Bear Creek Campground is peacefully set out in the boondocks of Mendo County. Campsites are nestled against picturesque Bear Creek, and rumor has...

Dylan
Dylan: As far as developed campgrounds go, Bear Creek is pretty secluded. There are about 16 well dispersed sites, two vault toilets,...
9 Saves
Fuller Grove Campground

5. Fuller Grove Campground

Wildlife to the north and mountain views to the east, the Fuller Grove Campground sports lakeside camping, darn good fishing, and water recreation....

9 Saves
Masterson Group Campground

6. Masterson Group Campground

Located a mile from Plaskett Lake, Masterson Group Campground is a great place to pitch your tent or camp in your RV with a big group. The...

5 Saves
Dixie Glade Campground

7. Dixie Glade Campground

Herding your cattle through the mountains? Even if it’s just you and your children, Dixie Glade Campground is your spot to rest amongst the shade...

5 Saves
Howard Lake Campground

8. Howard Lake Campground

A beautiful lakeside experience awaits you at the Howard Lake Campground. Howard Lake contains 20 acres of sparkling blue water, beneath even bluer...

4 Saves
Gray Pine Group Campground

9. Gray Pine Group Campground

Gray Pine Group Campground is located near Stony Creek and Mill Creek. The campground sits among gray pine and has a barbeque, fire rings, and both...

Sarah
Sarah: Cheap and pretty remote, you can bring a large loud group here and have the valley pretty much to yourself. It gets really hot...
3 Saves
Middle Creek Campground

10. Middle Creek Campground

Located eight miles north of Upper Lake on County Road 301, Middle Creek Campground is an OHV and equestrian staging area (just no horse camping)....

2 Saves
Deer Valley Campground

11. Deer Valley Campground

This one is out in the thick of it. Deer Valley Campground, North of Ukiah, is a popular camping spot for OHV enthusiast and deer hunters in the...

Gregory
Gregory: Hotspot for OHVs so if you're seeking a backcountry vibe probably not the best since you're in the middle of a well developed...
2 Saves
Sycamore Grove Campground

12. Sycamore Grove Campground

Sycamore Grove Campground is isolated but fully loaded with grills, fire rings, potable water, showers, a boat ramp, and hiking trails. If you’re...

2 Saves
Sugarfoot Glade Campground

13. Sugarfoot Glade Campground

Dip your toes into the small creeks that flow early in the season through Sugarfoot Glade Campground, or soak in the magical relaxation of hugging...

2 Saves
Sugar Spring Campground

14. Sugar Spring Campground

Sugar Spring Campground is a remote camp on the north side of Thomes Creek. With a little imagination, you could make this into the perfect weekend...

Aimee
Aimee: It was a small nook of campsites in the middle of the forest. Quiet, and very beautiful. Wish I could have stayed longer.
2 Saves
Atchison Campground

15. Atchison Campground

Named after the nearby creek, Atchison Campground is a smaller campground without the frills of more developed campgrounds. If you aren’t from the...

2 Saves
Plaskett Meadows Campground

16. Plaskett Meadows Campground

Towering Douglas firs provide ample shade and whisper your secrets! But not without fellow campers overhearing, as Plaskett Meadows Campground...

Gregory
Gregory: Nice campsites, stayed here late spring and had still had some snow on the ground. Probably one of the more "modernized"...
2 Saves
Howard Meadows Campground

17. Howard Meadows Campground

Find yourself at the relaxed Howard Meadows Campground, and enjoy the 3,500 feet of elevation. The campground is within walking distance from...

1 Save
Pogie Point Campground

18. Pogie Point Campground

A mix of campsites on concrete pads and good-ol’ fashioned dirt, Pogie Point Campground is a quiet and attractive campground. Meander through the...

1 Save
Oak Flat Campground

19. Oak Flat Campground

<p>Rustic and unpaved, Oak Flat Campground is the perfect primitive site if you want to stay near major highways. The camping area is flat...

1 Save
Fouts Campground

20. Fouts Campground

In them golden rolling hills of California, Fouts campground is perched on a bluff overlooking the picturesque Mill Creek. You can camp in fields...

1 Save
Surveyors Camp Campground

21. Surveyors Camp Campground

Seven miles east of Eel River Station off Forest Highway 7, Surveyors Camp Campground is a largely undeveloped site, meaning you won’t find paved...

1 Save
Navy Camp Campground

22. Navy Camp Campground

The US Navy is looking for a new slogan—and perhaps they should take a closer look at the Navy Camp Campground. It’s a fine-looking thing, and a...

1 Save
Kingsley Glade Campground

23. Kingsley Glade Campground

You’ll find yourself a very happy camper in Kingsley Glade Campground, a campground situated in a forest at the edge of a sun-kissed meadow. Once...

Hammerhorn Campground

24. Hammerhorn Campground

At Hammerhorn Campground you might feel like you’re in your own private getaway. Gaze out upon the lake to notice that the only thing creating...

Whitlock Campground

25. Whitlock Campground

Take a look around! Whitlock Campground is an obscure Forest Service camp in a lush part of Mendocino National Forest that is often close to empty....

Wells Cabin Campground

26. Wells Cabin Campground

Beat the summer heat surrounded by red fir forest in this beautiful high-elevation campground that offers an excellent lush evergreen scenery and...

Three Prong Campground

27. Three Prong Campground

For those of us who secretly dream of re-enacting scenes from Twilight, this is the meadow in the woods that you're searching for. Three Pong...

Green Springs Campground

28. Green Springs Campground

Holy moley it’s the Yolla Bolley! Green Springs Campground is located at a trailhead that traverses into the Yolla Bolley Wilderness. The sites are...

Sunset Campground

29. Sunset Campground

Sunset Campground resides directly across from the Nature trail. If boating and fishing are the adventures your heart seeks, the boat launching...

Fuller Grove Group Campground

30. Fuller Grove Group Campground

Sitting in a shaded area near the shores of Lake Pillsbury, Fuller Grove Group Camp is a great place for a group getaway! There are restrooms,...

Camp Discovery Group Campground

31. Camp Discovery Group Campground

Located near the Sacramento River, Camp Discovery Group Campground has accommodations for all types of campers. Pitch your tent in the forest,...

Rock Cabin Trailhead

32. Rock Cabin Trailhead

Looking to teleport your-self deep into the wilderness? Turn the settings to Rock Cabin Trailhead Campground in the Mendocino National Forest north...

Little Doe Campground

33. Little Doe Campground

Deep greens surround you in this pretty little campground that stretches along a seasonal creek. At Little Doe Campground enjoy the views of...

14 Reviews

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Hipcamper Karissa

Great spot! We originally planned on camping at Letts Lake, but found the CG way too crowded and cramped. Drove just a few miles to Mill Valley to find a quiet spacious spot. Spent 2 fun and sun filled days at the lake and had a peaceful spot to relax after.

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Hipcamper Sarah

Cheap and pretty remote, you can bring a large loud group here and have the valley pretty much to yourself. It gets really hot and sunny during summer days, so head to much cooler Lett's Lake during the daytime. There IS a working drinking water spigot

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Hipcamper Dylan

As far as developed campgrounds go, Bear Creek is pretty secluded. There are about 16 well dispersed sites, two vault toilets, and no garbage service or running water (although you could filter / boil water from the creek). There is no phone signal and you have to cross a creek to get to the campground. 4WD high clearance vehicles recommended. A decent rain would likely render the creek / road impassible. Our site had two picnic tables, was isolated from the other sites, had lots of shade, and was right on the creek. A fine retreat from the Mendocino heat. The area is popular with OHV recreation, so don't expect 100% silence. The Snow Mountain Wilderness and accompanying trailhead is also nearby.

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Hipcamper A
A

Fishing in Mendocino National Forest is pretty sweet. You’ll find tons of trout!

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Hipcamper A
A

Challenging and exciting whitewater rivers will make for an unforgettable weekend adventure.

Hipcamper A
A

There is an amazing geological formation called the Crabtree Hot Springs, which, unfortunately is closed to the public… (Sorry to get your hopes up)

Hipcamper A
A

This is a camper’s heaven! You’ll definitely feel at peace being away from huge crowds and road noise. How good does it feel to hear nothing but nature? Especially if you’re camping in the backcountry (we recommend it).

Hipcamper Alex

There are a ton of amazing trails here for OHV, quads, dirt bikes, etc. Some of the campgrounds I drove through seemed like they wouldn't be as fun if you weren't partaking in the fun, mostly filled with RV trailers towing bikes etc.

Hipcamper Aimee

It was a small nook of campsites in the middle of the forest.
Quiet, and very beautiful. Wish I could have stayed longer.

Hipcamper Gregory

Lett's Lake is a beautiful lake chuck full of feisty largemouth bass right on the edge of the Mendocino National Forrest (MNF). Spring camping is nice, bug free, though too cold to swim, and summer camping though more buggy with mosquitos and yellow jackets lends itself to the full lakefront camping experience. My favorite trip is to enter MNF from stonyford, spend 2 nights at Lett's Lake with my little inflatable boat, rod, and soft plastics, then drive out on m10 across bear creek to M1 then down to Upper Lake for lunch at the Blue Wing Saloon.

Hipcamper Gregory

Beautiful location above the Eel River right on the edge of the Mendocino National Forrest. I would stay here to break up a drive but consider there to be nicer more secluded campsites deeper in the forrest.

Hipcamper Gregory

Nice campsite in the boondocks. Down in a hollow so gets cold early in the season.

Hipcamper Gregory

Nice campsites, stayed here late spring and had still had some snow on the ground. Probably one of the more "modernized" campgrounds I have seen here.

Hipcamper Gregory

Hotspot for OHVs so if you're seeking a backcountry vibe probably not the best since you're in the middle of a well developed OHV network. Nice warm campground on the ridge, definitely a favorite for early season camping.

History of Mendocino National Forest

Thousands of years before pioneer explorers from the eastern United States entered the area, five Native American peoples lived off its bounty - the Yuki, Nomlaki Wintu, Patwin Wintu, Eastern Pomo, and Northeastern Pomo. Archaeological artifacts and records from more than 1,800 sites have told us a number of things about the distant past of these peoples, but we have much more to learn.

Between 1850 and 1900, many small sawmills operated within what are now the Forest Boundaries. Mining also played a role in the history of the area. Copper City and Pacific City, now just place names on the map, were mining communities before the turn of the century. Most mining activity was limited to exploration for copper in the late 1800's, completely disappearing before 1900. During World War II, responding to the needs of the war industry, miners re-entered the Forest to do exploratory digging for manganese and chrome.

The minerals that attracted most people, however, were the ones dissolved in waters of the Forest's gurgling, steaming hot springs. During the early 1900's, visitors would travel many miles to soak up the supposed health benefits of baths in several resorts and spas. You can see remains of three resort hotels, mineral baths, and a bottling plant for mineral water at Bartlett Flats. Fouts Springs, Hough Springs, and Allen Springs also boasted popular resort facilities, although little evidence of their buildings remains.

First set aside as a "forest reserve" by President Roosevelt on February 6,1907, it was originally named the Stony Creek Forest Reserve and later the California National Forest on July 1, 1908. This designation proved to be confusing with relation to the state itself, and President Herbert Hoover renamed it the Mendocino National Forest on July 12, 1932. Mendocino takes its name from Mendocino County which was named for Cape Mendocino in Humboldt County. In 1542 explorer Roderiques de Cabrillo named the cape in honor of Don Antonio de Mendoza, first viceroy of New Spain.