Tucked away in the Northern Coast of California, Mackerricher State Park is a prime destination for RV campers seeking to explore the best of California’s attractions. Sprawling over 2,299 acres, Mackerricher is a home of diverse habitats including an inland lake, gorgeous beaches, wetlands, sand dunes, and rock formations. Situated three miles north of Fort Bragg, Mackerricher has a wealth of outdoor activities ranging from fishing to water sports.
If you want to catch sight of native animals you'll love the opportunities for whale watching, birding, and wildlife viewing. There is so much to do at this state park from hiking and cycling to horseback riding and picnicking. The park is covered with unique plant species such as Mendocino spine flower, menzies’ wallflower, pines, and redwood forest. The multi-colored Glass Beach, which was created following years of waste being discarded in the ocean, is a major attraction.
While the are many coastal camping destinations, Mackerricher State Park stands out as the perfect destination for RV campers due to its uniqueness, wide selection of activities, and the attractive coastal scenery. You will never get bored of repetitive activities no matter the length of your RV vacation here. Typical of Northern California weather, Mackerricher State Park is generally cool, windy, and cloudy.
RV Rentals in Mackerricher State Park
Transportation in Mackerricher State Park
The three-mile road from Fort Bragg is seamless, making driving an RV to Mackerricher State Park a breeze. You can park your RV at the main parking lot near the beach along Highway 1. RV campers can park at different sites within the camping areas.
The partially paved paths are accessible both on foot and by vehicles with designated equestrian, handicap, and cycling trails. Remember to confirm the length of your RV before booking to ensure your campsite has enough space. When driving a large trailer be careful since some sections in the park have low hanging branches and tight corners which can limit movement. Occasionally, some sections of the camping grounds and trails flood or become muddy during the rainy season, especially the trail encircling the lake. Also during the winter, some camping loops close temporarily.
Campgrounds and parking in Mackerricher State Park
Campsites in Mackerricher State Park
MacKerricher State Park Campground
MacKerricher State Park features a dog-friendly campground with over 140 campsites to accommodate tents, RVs, and trailers. East Pinewood, West Pinewood, and Surfwood are the three camping areas. You can camp here for a maximum of two weeks. The length limit for trailers and RVs is 35 feet.
Amenities include restrooms, fire rings, and picnic tables. You'll also have access to food storage lockers, a dump and water station, and coin-operated hot showers. Generator use is allowed during the day. There are no hookups available at this state park. You can make reservations up to six months in advance. There are designated wheelchair accessible nature trails and a beach wheelchair which can be reserved seven days in advance.
For pet lovers, you can take your dog with you in most areas within the park and campsites, provided your pet is on a leash all the time. However, pets are restricted from accessing some protected areas. Cell service and Wi-Fi connectivity are superb. From time to time MacKerricher State Park limits some services so it is recommended you confirm with their office before booking. Mackerricher RV campers can shop at Fort Bragg and rent horses from the nearby privately owned ranch.
There are no first-come, first-served campgrounds at this state park.
Seasonal activities in Mackerricher State Park
Enjoying Beach Recreation and Water Sports
There is no shortage of attractions and activities in this dark sandy beach. Here you can walk the infamous colored Glass Beach, take a leisurely stroll, or relax on the benches watching the rolling waves while enjoying the cool breeze. For those seeking more adventure, there are a variety of water sports available including kayaking, diving, snorkeling, and surfing. During the low tidal waves season, you can explore the tidal pools.
Just next to the parking lot right at the heart of the park is the 30-acre Lake Cleon, which provides excellent freshwater fishing grounds. If you are interested in fishing pack your fishing gear and crab net in your camper. Cleon Lake boasts a variety of crabs and fish species including fish rainbow trout, mosquito fish, brown bullheads, largemouth bass, crappie, catfish, and bluegill. Fishing is open all year round and permitted from the shore. A valid California fishing license is mandatory for adult anglers. Motorized boats are not allowed in the lake.
Hiking and Cycling
Depending on your point of interest, the scenic trails offer campers an opportunity to immerse themselves fully in the coastal ecosystem. If you love sand dunes you will enjoy the ten-mile beach trail. If you want to explore sea life you can check out the boardwalk trail that leads to the viewing platforms. The good thing about Mackerricher State Park is that most hiking trails are user-friendly, well connected, level, and easily accessible for wheelchairs, strollers, equestrians, bikers, and joggers. The most popular trail is the multi-use Haul Road Coastal Trail and the Headlands hiking trail.
Exploring Historic Sites Tours
Mackerricher State Park has wealth of history. Just at the park entry near the visitors' center, you will find the blue whale skeleton. If you are interested in learning about the park’s history the facility offers historical talks and information pertaining to the natural history of migratory whales, protected areas, the formation of Lake Cleon, and the restored Haul Road, which was once a railroad. The guides will take you around the lake and boardwalk trail while explaining how to spot the whales. Additionally, they offer binoculars for easier viewing.
Wildlife Viewing and Birding
Mackerricher is a home to deer, squirrels, raccoons, foxes and even mountain lions. In addition, Mackerricher State Park is a birdwatchers' paradise, featuring over 90 avian species. Both migratory and native birds can be seen encircling the shores of Lake Cleon. Birders can enjoy identifying different birds by either biking or hiking around the lake. Some of the birds you can spot include ospreys, pelicans, gulls, herons, wood ducks, and mallards.
Whale Watching and Seal Viewing
After parking your camper at the Laguna Point parking lot you can head over to the Boardwalk Trail along the bluffs, which leads to different overlooks and tidal pools. You will love the sight of native harbor seals and their pups hanging out on the rocks. During the months of November to May, you will encounter the migratory gray whales. Occasionally blue whales, minke whales, and humpback whales can be seen from the observatory deck. Apart from whales and California seals, Mackerricher State Park is rich in sea life including orcas, sea urchins, octopi, crabs, and starfish.