25' Airstream, Adventure in Style!
25' Airstream, Adventure in Style!
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4x4 Ram 2500 w/ 2019 Capri Camper Retreat
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Numerous parks make up an impressive network of amazing redwood preserves in northern California, containing the tallest and oldest trees on the continent. Standish-Hickey State Recreation area is the southernmost of these parks, situated along US-101, also known as the Redwood Highway. This park’s landmark tree is the 1,200-year-old Captain Miles Standish Tree, towering 225 feet above the forest floor. Standish-Hickey SRA is 180 miles north of San Francisco, near Leggett. One of the best ways to explore this park and others is on a long road trip, and you can start by booking an RV in Mendocino County.
The Standish Tree greets park visitors today but was also an impressive tree when the Sinkyone hunter-gatherer people inhabited the area in ancient times. The entire region was extensively logged in the late 1800s and early 1900s, almost to the point of clearing every last redwood. This preserve started as a small 40-acre campground on donated land in 1922. Multiple other donations over the years have increased the preserve's current size to over 1,000 acres of old-growth and second-growth forests. The South Fork of the Eel River, a federally designated Wild and Scenic River, snakes for two miles through a wide canyon in the center of the park and provides ample recreation opportunities. Standish-Hickey SRA is also home to black bears, river otters, mountain lions, and foxes. Numerous birds soar high above and roost in the trees, including bald eagles, osprey, and herons.
Many recreationists come to camp at Standish-Hickey State Recreation Area for the Eel River. This beautiful river winds through the bluffs and has everything from rapids to sandy beaches to 20-foot deep swimming holes. It’s great for floating, kayaking, swimming, and sunbathing.
The Eel River is also a favorite fishing location. Anglers cast their lines for bountiful spawning salmon and steelhead in the fall and winter. They’re catch-and-release, and you’ll need a valid fishing license for anyone over 16. You can fish either from the shore or boat.
Standish-Hickey SRA also offers close to ten miles of hiking trails, but only the Grove Trail loop is open year-round. This accessible interpretive trail takes you through the old-growth redwoods and second-growth forest. The other two trails, which are close to the river and use seasonal bridges, are only open during the summer when they’re not susceptible to flooding. If you want to see the old Captain Miles Standish Tree, the moderate two-mile Big Tree Trail starts at the Redwood Campground and also offers excellent views of the river. The more experienced hikers can hike the six-mile Mill Creek Loop Trail, which also takes you right up to the Standish Tree.
You’ll be able to bring your small motorhome rental to Standish-Hickey State Recreation Area year-round, but only two of the three campgrounds are open in the winter. The campgrounds are small and can only accommodate RVs up to 27 feet in length. All campgrounds have ADA-accessible sites. Dogs are allowed to camp with you, as long as they’re kept under control and on a leash no longer than six feet. They’re not allowed on the trails, and you’ll have to watch for toxic algae sometimes found at the river.
The main campground, the Redwood Campground, is on the south side of the river and is seasonal. This campground has 63 sites under the towering old trees. The Rock Creek Campground, on the north side of the park and the bluffs overlooking the river, has 35 shaded sites for your rental RV. The larger Hickey Campground is east on the bluff with 64 additional sites. All campgrounds have water and bathrooms with flushing toilets and showers. You'll also find picnic tables and fire rings at each campsite.
There are no fuel or groceries to speak of in Leggett. The closest fuel and food you’ll find are at least 15 miles in either direction, with the closest big-box stores an hour away in both directions. If you’re starting near San Francisco and want to make your drive south to north, depart Standish-Hickey SRA north along the Redwood Highway. You’ll pass through numerous redwood groves and arrive at Humboldt Redwoods State Park after about 45 minutes, assuming you don’t stop for pictures. You're not done at Humboldt, though; you have almost a half-dozen more redwoods parks to explore before reaching Oregon.
You can also find more redwoods heading south along the Pacific Coast Highway near the charming towns of Fort Bragg and Mendocino. These picturesque beachside towns offer some great waterfront RV camping and fresh seafood. Also not to miss near Mendocino is the Skunk Train, an open-air train that snakes through redwood groves, and is a hit for both children and adults. The Pacific Coast Highway is one of America’s most scenic and shouldn’t be missed on this motorhome camping trip or the next.