What started as one of California’s first redwood parks in 1922 has grown into 1,800 acres of gorgeous getaway. Richardson Grove State Park, located about four hours outside of San Francisco, is home to an expansive grove of coast redwoods and the South Fork of the Eel River. Scenic views and wildlife abound along with several options for RV and trailer camping. The Huckleberry, Madrone, and Oak Flats campgrounds all offer RV sites with fire rings, picnic tables, food lockers, and access to restrooms and showers. Stroll through the grove and marvel at trees reaching over 300 feet tall, dating back more than 1,000 years. Watch for animals such as black-tailed deer, gray fox, bald eagles, and river otters as you explore the park’s nine-mile trail system. Don’t forget to stop by the Visitor Center at Richardson Grove Lodge to learn more about the native ecosystem and geology from park rangers.
Cool off in the Eel River as you swim and fish during the warm months. This national scenic and wild river is home to salmon and steelhead that return to spawn in the fall and winter. Visit some of the grove’s landmark trees like the walk-through tree, and the bat tree. The chandelier tree, which features multiple trunks branching out several feet above the forest floor, is also a not-to-miss landmark. Before heading back to your camp for the night, take time to hunt for geocaches, and then enjoy time by the fire with your family. With a variety of campsites and activities suited for the whole family, Richardson Grove State Park is the perfect stop on your next journey through northern California.
Richardson Grove State Park is accessible by both RV and car. Located four hours outside of San Francisco, the grove lies seven miles south of Garberville, California, on the scenic Highway 101. Once inside the park, paved roads will guide you to Huckleberry Campground, Madrone Campground, and the Visitor Center. The road to Oak Flat Campground is mostly paved, with a short stretch of unpaved road near the river. During the summer, fog is prevalent during the early mornings and evenings. Occasionally this can affect visibility for drivers, so keep this in mind when planning your trip. You can access two nearby state parks — Benbow State Recreation Area and Sinkyone Wilderness State Park — via Highway 101 as well. There are numerous RV rentals available in the area if you don't want to haul your own rig cross country.
The Oak Flat Campground features 78 sites for RVs and trailers. It is located slightly farther off the highway than the other campgrounds, with a brief stretch of unpaved road. Camping season at Oak Flat is mid-June through mid-September, and reservations can be made up to six months in advance. Each site includes parking for one vehicle, a picnic table, a food locker, and a fire grill. Visitors can run generators during the daytime hours and have access to restrooms, showers, and tap water.
Madrone Campground offers 40 campsites, all of which accommodate RVs, trailers, and tents. The campground also has four reservable cabins for rent. The campground is open year-round, and reservations can be made up to six months in advance. Each site includes parking for one vehicle. Generators may be used during the daytime hours. Each site includes a picnic table, food locker, and fire grill. There is easy access to restrooms with showers and tap water nearby.
The Huckleberry Campground offers 27 RV and trailer campsites open for campers year-round. There is parking for one vehicle at each site. Each site features a picnic table, food locker, and fire grill with access to restrooms with toilets, tap water, and showers. You can also connect to Wi-Fi near the ranger station. Generators can be operated during the daytime hours. Reservations are recommended and can be made up to six months in advance.
No matter the season, the redwoods offer a perfect place for a shaded picnic. A designated day-use picnic area is located east of the Visitor Center near the river. Each campsite in the three campgrounds includes a fire ring, picnic table, and food locker to make eating near your RV simple and fun. Remember to bring your own firewood as wood collecting in the park is not allowed, including twigs and leaves. Fires are only allowed in designated fire rings.
If you put enough distance between yourself and the Airstream and tread lightly, it may be possible to experience some of the park's full-time residents. Visitors have spotted a variety of wildlife here, including river otters, gray foxes, and black-tailed deer. Black bears and mountain lions have also been known to make the occasional appearance around these parts. The avid bird watcher can spot osprey, bald eagles, great blue herons, and more. Ask a park ranger where you can find the Yuma brown bats and their babies that live in a hollowed-out redwood in the grove.
The scenic setting, extensive trail system, and ample camping and RV space make Richardson Grove State Park a favorite spot for geocaches. Grab your group and your GPS, and enjoy hunting for hidden caches around the grove. Most of the caches are easily accessible for all age groups. Some caches only have room to sign your name, so don’t forget a pen or pencil. Others contain a collection of small items left by fellow geocachers. Bring along your own souvenir to add to the mix.
During the fall and winter months, anglers of all ages come to Richardson Grove to enjoy the Eel River. The National Wild and Scenic River plays hosts to salmon and steelhead that return to the area to spawn. You'll need to bring your own gear and expertise along with you in the Sprinter, as the park does not have any rentals or offer river guides. Be sure you are up to date on your California fishing license and registration before casting out.
With 1,800 acres to explore, Richardson Grove State Park is a hiking hot spot. Explore nine miles of trails that weave through the coast redwoods and cross over the scenic Eel River. On the trails, you will see some of the park’s most notable and unique redwood trees. Stroll through the walk-through tree or check out the chandelier tree, which features multiple trunks branching out several feet above the ground. Don’t forget to view the bat tree — a hollow redwood that acts as home to a colony of Yuma bats and their babies. Be sure to tread quietly so as not to disturb the bats.
The Richardson Grove Lodge was built in the 1930s and was once a place where families gathered to watch movies, eat ice cream, and dance. Today, it houses the Richardson Grove State Park Visitor Center. The Visitor Center features interactive displays on the history of the area and the wildlife that call it home. Children are encouraged to handle natural items and learn from park rangers on site. The center hosts special events like guided walks, guest speakers, and evening campfire programs throughout the year.
Richardson Grove State Park visitors can swim and wade in the Eel River during the warm summer months. A designated swimming beach and seasonal swimming hole are popular areas for sunbathing and water activities. Diving and jumping into the river are not permitted, and no lifeguards are on duty. All three campgrounds are within walking distance of the swim beach, and visitors can use the park’s trail system to travel to and from the pop-up on foot safely. There is also a parking area and restrooms available for visitor use.
You don't have to be a professional photographer to appreciate all the picturesque scenery that abounds in Richardson Grove State Park. From the towering redwoods to the majestic wildlife to the flowing South Fork of the Eel River, your eyes (and your camera) will never tire of their surroundings. Check out Racetrack Path to get some shots of unique redwoods that have grown into interesting shapes. Mornings and evenings often bring a fog over the park, creating an excellent backdrop for a photoshoot. Wherever you wander, you'll be glad to have your camera with you.