Solar Living CenterHosted by SLI
About Solar Living Center
Our site is 12 acres of permaculture gardens. It is an active education site for locals and travelers to learn sustainable living practices, solar and alternative energy. We border the seasonal Feliz Creek, and share space with the wonderfully unique town of Hopland, CA.
Our story started in 1978 with the founding of Real Goods by John Schaeffer. The company was founded to serve the needs of the local community that was interested in getting " Back to The Land" and living more sustainable and self-sufficient lifestyles. Providing everything from lanterns to solar panels, the company grew as a mail order operation. We began offering sustainable living workshops in the mid-1990s. At some point, the employee concern was that Real Goods was not "walking the talk" and John began toying with the idea of creating a site that could be home to Real Goods while also working to display the ideals that the company promoted and teaching the public about sustainability -This site is a manifestation of that vision. The property, which we opened in 1996, was originally a dumping ground for Cal-Trans and is now an actively evolving permaculture oasis. The non-profit Solar Living Institute was founded in 1998 to further the mission of promoting sustainability through environmental education. Today, our goal is fighting global climate change though system change on an individual and community basis.
Campgrounds in Solar Living Center
This park doesn't have any submitted photos—just yet.
If you stayed here and have some insider info for us, let us know!
The Solar Living Institute has nice shade areas with picnic tables, fountains, a pond, a tree house, a store, a rustic outdoor kitchen, and more importantly, an amazing and hot outdoor shower. You won't get the best camping experience at Mendo Permaculture Oasis as sites are quite close to the road. But it's definitely a beautiful place to pitch your tent for a night when driving to or from NorCal. I recommend it for the shower and the fun activities at the Institute. If you're driving an electric car, plug it in for the night!
I had a great time staying at SLI! Everyone at SLI was super friendly and helpful during my stay. The campsite is conveniently located in the front entrance. The tent sites are a little close to the road so you may hear cars whizz by during the night if you're a light sleeper. Just pack some ear plugs and you're good to go. The property itself is super interesting with lots of really cool things to explore. You can take a map and do a self guided tour as there are lots of signs with information to learn from. My favorite area on the property was probably by the pond where there are lots of picnic tables to have lunch on and relax. There are lots of art structures around the property like the giant metal dragon and decorated egg pieces. The property is very beautiful, well kept and is just fun to walk around and explore. It is also dog friendly so you can take your pup along as well. It's a very peaceful environment and would make a great getaway from the city. I would highly recommend visiting if you're in the area regardless if you're camping or not!
“The MPO camp was great! It was super easy to find and is a convenient 5 minute walk to the main area/facilities. The camp has several different sites and has nicely kept grounds. It’s just across from the big pond so it’s easy to take a little stroll and enjoy breakfast in front of the water. The only con would be that it is close enough to the 101 to hear cars whizz by during the night. It didn’t bother me but light sleepers may want to bring some ear plugs.
The Solar Living Center, itself, is beautiful and has so many cool features to explore while you’re there. Be sure to check out the Real Goods store too!”
“The RV Trailer area is conveniently located right in front of the main area in the parking lot. There aren’t any RV hook ups but you’ll find charging stations for Tesla cars and electric vehicles (with outlets to charge your phone if you need to). The bathroom/outdoor kitchen area is short walk away but you can also use the main building restrooms during the day. The SLC grounds are beautifully decorated and well kept to stroll through and explore. There are so many cool features here to check out and you can even do a self-guided tour. SLC isn’t a typical area to camp but definitely more a destination campground that has clean facilities and hosts a wide variety of entertainment. It’s also conveniently located right off the 101 so it’s very easy to get back on the road.”
We loved the solar living center and the staff. the camping area is close to the road and it was really loud. The highway sounds were like a cannonball going off because of the highway bridge. It may have been so busy due to labor day traffic.
The bathrooms were a little far from the campsite for late night runs. I would still recommended it anyway, the solar center is doing fantastic work in the world through education of kids and adults.
The grounds are a few blocks in from the highway so you can hear the cars go by. They aren't quite set up for campers just yet but the grounds are beautiful and their offerings are fun. Hopland isn't the most exciting place but there are adventures nearby and good people to meet.
What a unique place to stay! The camping area is pretty bar bones and so is the cabin we stayed in. But it comes with two twin foam mattresses and a little side table. So no fussing with setting up your tent, just bring your sleeping bags and some camp lights. Didn't use the shared kitchen area, though we did check it out and it wasn't kept. We did stay in the heart of the winter season, so it was a bit cold and not much happening on the property or in town (Hopland). But I'm betting in the summer months it feels a bit more lively all around.
Easy to find. The Solar Living Institute is a cool demonstration site for various sustainable living projects (solar, aquaponics, compost, etc). The tent was totally fine overall, but some of our things and one of the mattresses got wet during a daytime shower. The tent had several rips and tears in it where rain came in. The campsite is near the highway so you do get car noise, but it's minimal and didn't bother us. However, it is also immediately adjacent to a lumber mill that starts work early on week days. Bring ear plugs. The outdoor kitchen is a dirty stove and sink with essentially no cookware. Bring your own pots, forks, plates, etc. It is also not super close to the campground area. If I stayed again I would just bring my own Coleman camp stove, but didn't this time bc I came by plane. The shower was fine, hot water, not clean, but not filthy - it is a campground afterall.
Other than the lack of housekeeping, I enjoyed my stay. The tent camping field was overgrown with weeds. The photos look much cleaner than the kitchen and shower facilities were. Outdoor shower was not hooked up and majorly in disrepair which probably would have been nicer than the indoor one. Kitchen was dirty and full of cobwebs with overflowing or inadequate waste disposal/recycling/compost. Appeared as if facilities had not been used or tended to in months. Nice to have a fridge for food and a gas stove though.
The remainder of the grounds were fun to explore, really enjoyed the peaceful setting and abundant wildlife on site.
This place was such a hidden gem! The actual spot where you put down a tent doesn't look like much but it does have a few picnic tables and garbage/recycling bins. There is a bathroom and shower accessible too which is a huge bonus. The real fun comes when you explore the grounds a bit. This place is located on the property of the "Real Good" store and solar living facility. The store has a beautiful garden area and you can also find a few snacks/drinks available for purchase. It is walking distance from downtown Hopland and was fun to walk into town for dinner that night. While you aren't totally emersed in nature if you are looking for something a bit unique or just a place to rest your head...i 100% recommend!
Please be sure that hornet's nests are not infesting the tent before folks visit. Also, please be clear that the irrigation system turns on at 4:30-ish in the morning. And if you advertise a small community kitchen and shower space, be sure to tell the campers how to access these services. We ended up sleeping with hornets, and had spoiled food that we planned to cook but had no kitchen in which to do so. We left a day early because it was an unpleasant experience.
This was a cool spot, better than expected but could also use some improvements:
- The signage is off - the tent cabin was confirmed on our reservation as #1 but on the post, infront says #2.
- There were also people inhabiting the cabin when we arrived - it could have a reservation name clipped to the door or something.
- there is a bee hive forming on the liner of the tent