Van Damme State Park
Guide

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Introduction

Nestled on the shores of the Pacific Ocean in Northern California, Van Damme State Park is a prime destination for RVers who want to get away to their own beautiful paradise. This state park is home to over 1,800 acres of sandy beaches, glistening rivers, and pygmy forest. The peak, cooler summer season offers a chance for beach recreation like swimming and kayaking, as well as the opportunity to hike majestic forest-lined natural trails. Explore fern canyons, bike through redwood forests, kayak through sea canyons, or go diving in a protected cove. The off-season in the winter is prone to rain, but still provides a wealth of adventure from bird watching to jogging.

You can immerse yourself in the history of Northern California and learn about the redwood lumber industry and gold rush that played a crucial role in the heritage of the region at the Visitor Center. During your RV trip to Van Damme State Park, you’ll be amidst a magical natural habitat of coastal bluff terrace, redwood forest, and wetlands. The Little River that flows through the park is an idyllic spot for fishing, picnicking, and boating. An RV excursion to Van Damme State Park will be an unforgettable adventure into the serene, unique environment of Northern California.

RV Rentals in Van Damme State Park

Transportation in Van Damme State Park

Driving

Van Damme State Park is located just off Highway 1, which separates the east and west ends of the park, so you shouldn’t have any trouble driving your car or RV to the area. There are several internal roads that make navigating within the park easier. However, there is a temporary, narrow single-land bridge that has been installed to access campsites on the east side of the Little River, which can make driving a bit more difficult for larger RVs and trailers. If you are driving with a large trailer it is recommended that you park in the Beach Parking Lot and assess the route. If you prefer to keep your trailer in the Beach Parking Lot you can. The speed limit near the campgrounds is 15 miles per hour.

Parking

The Beach Parking Lot is the main parking facility for day-use within the park, featuring enchanting views of the waterfront. You are permitted to park larger RVs or trailers in the Beach Parking Lot due to the narrow bridge entrance to some of the campsites. You can also park at the Visitor Center and campsites located within the park.

Public Transport

Campgrounds and parking in Van Damme State Park

Campsites in Van Damme State Park

Reservations camping

Upper Loop

The Upper Loop is the largest campground in the park with 43 campsites available. This pet-friendly campground features showers and restrooms. You’ll have easy access to the Campfire Center.

Little River Spur

Little River Spur offers 16 pet-friendly campsites that are situated at various points along the Little River. You will have access to restrooms and showers and can enjoy beautiful views of the riverfront at this campground.

Lower Loop

There are 13 pet-friendly campsites available at the Lower Loop Campground. These sites are closest to the park entrance, Visitor Center, RV sanitation station, and beach. You’ll also have easy access to hiking trails within the park. Restrooms and showers are available on-site.

First-come first-served

Alternate camping

Private Campgrounds

If you prefer to park your motorhome outside of the park there are a number of private campgrounds and RV Parks to choose from, both north and south of the park. Whether you stay a few minutes or an hour away from the park, you can enjoy a range of modern amenities from wireless internet and cable TV to swimming pools and laundry facilities. You can still access the park during the day by parking in the Beach Parking Lot.

Hike-In Campground

If you are looking for a hiking adventure during your RV trip to Van Damme, there are 10 hike-in campsites. These campsites provide a rustic experience and backcountry enthusiasts will enjoy the chance to camp along the Little River in a serene setting.

Seasonal activities in Van Damme State Park

In-Season

Swimming, Surfing & Boating

An RV excursion to Van Damme is a perfect way to enjoy fun-filled aquatic recreation. Whether you want to swim, surf, or windsurf you’ll create memories of a lifetime on the waters of the Pacific Ocean. If you’re into kayaking or canoeing you’ll love the chance to paddle on the open waters whether you want to do so on your own or with a tour. During the summer months, you can take a guided kayaking tour to explore the incredible sea caves and tide pools on the coast. Boat rentals are available within the park.

Hiking

Van Damme State Park is a haven for hikers of all ability levels where you can experience some diverse and spectacular scenery. Once you park your rig you can head out on the Fern Canyon Trail, where you will see canyons covered with unique vegetation, the pygmy forest, and towering redwoods. If you are up for a challenge you can tackle the 9-mile Fern Canyon Lollapalooza, where you will travel through the pygmy forest and the majestic Little River.

Abalone Diving, Snorkeling & Scuba Diving

Your RV trip to Van Damme State Park will provide you with the chance to go on some unforgettable aquatic adventures. If you are an avid diver, try abalone diving and scuba diving. You can dive in shallow shores if you are a beginner or protected caves for those looking for more of a challenge. You can also snorkel through the majestic waves of the Pacific Ocean.

Biking

Once you take your bike out of your travel trailer you’ll have a great time cycling through the wondrous natural environment of Van Damme. You can coast on your bike through all of the designated paved roads and trails within the park. You’ll love the chance to cycle on the Fern Canyon Scenic Trail or the Logging Road Trail, where you’ll get to see the pygmy forest, wetlands, and unforgettable redwoods.

Fishing

If you bring your fishing gear on your RV trip to Van Damme, you’ll be in store for an amazing fishing adventure. The Little River and Pacific Ocean both provide ample opportunities for some great catches. Once you bait your hook you’ll have a chance to catch native fish species such as the Coho salmon, stickleback, and Coast Range sculpin.

Off-Season

Botanizing

This state park is a prime spot for those interested in learning more about or studying plants and flora. From wetlands to redwood forest, Van Damme has it all. Once you settle into your motorhome you can explore this diverse, unique habitat of the park by studying rare Pygmy cypress and Mendocino cypress, Bolander pine, and pygmy forest. Whether you want to explore the beach or wetlands, the off-season offers a great chance to do so when the park is less crowded.

Winter Hiking

Although the colder months tend to be rainy you can still immerse yourself in the incredible surroundings of Van Damme State Park. Park your RV and head out on the Pygmy Forest Trail, a short, easy hike where you can check out unique bonsai trees and bog-like surroundings. If you are looking for a longer, moderate route, head out to the Fern Canyon from the campground, which is a stroller and bike-friendly trek that will take you to fern-covered hillsides and forests with incredible scenery.

Geocaching

Geocaching is a modern-day treasure hunt where you can search for hidden objects in the park. You can use GPS coordinates you can find online or on a smartphone app to help guide you to find these hidden gems. An RV trip to Van Damme State Park can turn into a treasure hunting adventure the whole family will enjoy.

Junior Ranger Adventure Program

If take your RV road trip to Van Damme State Park during the off-season you can still have plenty of family-friendly adventures. Download the Junior Ranger Adventure Guide from the state park’s website as a guide to learn all about the amazing natural and cultural history of the park. With puzzle games and factoids, the kids will have a blast learning about the park while visiting the thrilling natural attractions all around you.

Bird Watching and Wildlife Viewing

You’ll want to make sure you bring your binoculars when you drive your trailer to Van Damme State Park. You will have a blast spotting native bird species such as the yellow warbler, northern spotted owl, or belted kingfisher. The unique convergence of redwoods forest, pygmy forest, and wetlands make these interesting places to look for wildlife and fish such as Coho salmon and stickleback.

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