Manchester State Park features one of the last wild beaches along the California Coastline featuring almost four miles of sandy beachfront, lots of watersport activities, and 40 campsites for you to relish the unique environment. Located one-half mile north from Manchester, California, Manchester State Park resides on a combined 5,272 acres of protected space on land and offshore in the Pacific Ocean. Created in 1930 by the state of California, the park would grow in size from land grants in 1961 and 1987. The park now spans from Point Arena Lighthouse in the south and northward to the Alder Creek Beach. The protected offshore water is connected to the larger Point Arena Marine Reserve.
Manchester State Park was originally home to the Bokeya Pomo Tribe that was a self-sufficient tribe living along the coastline. Until the mid-1800s their primary contact was with European settlers or Russian fur trappers until the tribe was relocated to the Mendocino Indian Reservation at Fort Bragg. In 1867 the reservation was disbanded and the tribe would return to their ancestral land. The tribe would later become known as the Manchester Band of Pomo Indians and would operate a dairy farm until 1959.
Today, Manchester State Park is a playground for watersport enthusiasts and anglers. The whole family can enjoy wildlife watching and beachcombing along more than 18,000 feet of undeveloped beachfront. The landscape is simply superb and includes Arena Rock, where there are six known shipwrecks to have occurred before Point Arena Lighthouse was constructed.
The weather at Manchester State Park maintains a constant feel with temperatures in the winter around the mid-50s and rainfall is heavy with an average of six inches from November thru March. Summer time brings little rain but morning fog with temperatures in the mid-60s. No matter what time of year you take your RV vacation to Manchester State Park you will be greeted by miles of sand and scenic views of the Pacific Ocean.
RV Rentals in Manchester State Park
Transportation in Manchester State Park
Main access into Manchester State Park is off of Kinney Road, which is connected to the Shoreline Highway, also known as California Highway 1 or the Pacific Coast Highway. RVers and trailer pullers will have an easy drive if traveling on the highway north to south to Kinney Road. From the town of Point Arena in the south, drivers will find more intense driving conditions with numerous curves and a more mountainous undulating terrain.
There are numerous pull outs for you to take advantage of to allow traffic flow to remain steady. Another point of access to the northern section of the park is along Alder Creek Beach Road which is also connected to Shoreline Highway. This point of access is especially used by anglers during steelhead spawning season, as well as beachgoers who want to explore Alder Creek Beach. The point of access for the southern portion of the park for day users is located off of Stoneboro Road which is connected to the Shoreline Highway. This road contains numerous curves and should be avoided if you are driving an RV or pulling a trailer.
Once inside the main entrance of the park off of Kinney Road, you will find yourself navigating the one road through the campground. The campground road has several loops you must travel which are not difficult for RVs or if you are pulling a trailer. While driving in the campground please keep to the posted speed limit and be aware of pedestrians, bicyclists, and children playing in the road area.
Campgrounds and parking in Manchester State Park
Campsites in Manchester State Park
All campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Manchester State Park Main Campground
The main campground at Manchester State Park consists of 40 campsites that are spread out over a short straight road from the main entrance and two small loops. There are no types of hookup services inside the campground.
RVs are limited to 30 feet in length and trailers are limited to 22 feet. Each campsite is furnished with a fire ring, picnic table, and a gravel parking pad, which may require some type of leveling device for your RV or trailer.
There are several restrooms that contain flush toilets within the campground. Fresh drinking water is dispersed from a couple of spigots spread out throughout the campground. Although there is no hookup service for RVs and trailers, there is dump station situated near the entrance of the campground.
Generators may be used from 8:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. Pets must be restrained at your campsite by a six-foot leash and pets are not allowed onside of your campsite on trails or the beach area of the park.
The environmental campground at Manchester State Park is a little over one mile from the main parking lot for the park along the Lake Davis Trail. The campground contains eight campsites that are furnished with a fire ring and picnic table. There are vault toilets available to use but there is no fresh water available. Pets are not allowed within the environmental campground. Quiet hours are from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.
Seasonal activities in Manchester State Park
Fishing at Manchester State Park is superb when steelhead make their runs on Alder Creek in the north and Brush Creek in the south. Salmon is also common during spawning season. Fishing can be accessed by foot only on both these creeks that flow in the park. Surf fishing is also popular along the northern beaches where you can expect to find perch, steelhead, salmon, and cabazon. You should check California State Fishing Regulations for size and bag limits.
A popular thing to do in Manchester State Park is to go scuba diving. The waters of the Pacific Ocean here are protected within the Point Arena Marine Reserve. There are six known shipwrecks around Arena Rock that are located 100 feet of the shoreline in the southwestern portion of the park. In addition, divers can search for another 34 shipwrecks that are presumed to have crashed at or near Arena Rock and Arena Point. Shore diving is discouraged because of strong rip tides and scuba divers must enter the water by boat within the marine preserve. So if you're up for the challenge don't forget to pack your scuba gear in the rig.
Surfing, Windsurfing, and Kite Boarding
The waters of the Pacific Ocean off of Manchester State Park are ideal in the summer time for advanced surfers. You can expect a difficult paddle to get out of the rip currents where you will find 10-feet swells with both right and left breaks available for surfers. Windsurfing is even better with constant winds throughout the summer months and there is plenty of ocean water with good swells for you to take advantage. Kite boarding has also become popular at the park. With almost four miles of beachfront, kite boarders can find enough space to lift off and cruise the waters off the coastline of the park.
Hiking and Beachcombing
Make sure you bring some comfortable shoes for beachcombing and hiking when heading in your rig towards Manchester State Park. The beach at the park is almost four miles in length and stretches from Alder Creek Beach in the north to Arena Point in the south. The beach is a natural collecting zone for debris, especially driftwood which is plentiful. Hiking within the park includes a five-mile round trip hike through the Davis Wetlands Trail, which has you hiking through numerous ecosystems that include ponds, coastal dunes, beach, forested areas and wetlands.
Wildlife and Marine Life Watching
Wildlife and marine life watching is an ideal thing to do in Manchester State Park. During the months from December to April your eyes are treated to views of migrating gray whales making their way down to Baja California. There is also spectacular wildlife and birding opportunities onshore within the park. Bring a good pair of binoculars to view bird species such as the endangered Snowy Plovers on the beach. Inland you will find sanderlings, dunlin, blue herons, egrets and an occasional peregrine falcon. Mammals roaming inland include deer, river otter, and flocks of sheep grazing along the coastal grasslands.
Touring Point Arena Lighthouse
Visiting the Point Arena Lighthouse is a perfect way to learn more about the cultural and natural history of the area. The original lighthouse was constructed in 1870 and was destroyed by an earthquake in 1906. The existing lighthouse was constructed shortly after and opened in 1908. The lighthouse towers 115 feet into the sky and once contained a unique 1st Order Fresnel Lens built in France. Once inside the lighthouse you can reach the top after you stroll through several exhibits that highlight the six known shipwrecks that have occurred around Arena Rock.