CAR CAMPING AT KING RANGE NATIONAL
TRIP · 3-day camping trip
FOR · Friends & first-time campers
VIBE · Moderate & fun
COST · $
DRIVE · 5.5 hours from SF
RESERVATION · Nope! It's first-come, first-serve
IDEAL DATES · May - October
PETS · Welcome at camp & trails
WHY KING RANGE NCA?
King Range is the country's first ever National Conservation Area. This remote 65,000 acre stretch of NorCal coastline is strikingly beautiful. It has 80+ miles of trails spanning from the beach to King Peak (4,088 feet), world-class mountain biking trails & it's home to the popular Lost Coast Trail, a 24.6 mile backpacking trek. The area is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and was deemed a wilderness area in 2006, which is why there are no amenities & minimal signage in the backcountry, and no drinking water at campgrounds, but the "primitive" parts is what makes this one of the most spectacular seascapes in CA.
The King Range coastline was too rugged for Highway 1 to be built so it was pushed inland. Only a few roads can reach what is now called The Lost Coast.
SNAG A FIRST-COME, FIRST-SERVE (FCFS) CAMPSITE AT MATTOLE CAMPGROUND
King Range NCA has four campgrounds: Mattole, Tolkan, Nadelos & Wailiki. They're all FCFS & don't have running water, but they do have picnic tables, fire pits, trash collection & vault restrooms.
Mattole is the only beachfront campground that gives you awesome access to Mattole River & Mattole Beach. There are only 15 campsites available, which are usually taken on weekends, but emptier on weekdays. Check-out is at 11 AM so arrive as early as you can to snag a campsite just as people are leaving. Once you find an open campsite, park your car at the site & walk over to the information board to pay your nightly camping fee. Bring cash or checks!
The drive to Mattole Campground is on a windy dirt road, which is doable in a 2WD car, but easier in a 4WD.
Nightly fee: $8. Bring cash!
EACH CAMPSITE COMES WITH:
- A picnic table
- Fire pit
- Space for up to 8 people
- Two parking spots
- Trash collection (on site)
- Restrooms (on site)
STUFF YOU NEED TO KNOW
There are bears in King Range, but they aren't habituated to eat our food. Squirrels, raccoons & birds will still make a go for your snacks so store food & scented items in your car overnight & when you leave camp
Coastal weather can quickly go from sunny skies to windy, rainy nights. Secure your tent to the ground & bring layers for all seasons
LEAVE SF AS EARLY AS YOU CAN & STOP BY THE PEG HOUSE FOR A BITE
- Diners love their burgers, sandwiches & fried oysters!
- Located at 69501 US-101 in Leggett
- Open everyday from 7 AM - 9 PM
- LAST PIT STOP · Shell - 600 Redway Drive in Redway
SNAG A FIRST-COME, FIRST SERVE CAMPSITE AT MATTOLE CAMPGROUND
- Mattole campground has15 FCFS campsites, but if it's full when you arrive, you can double back on Lighthouse Road to Mattole Road and check out Arthur M. Way County Park. It's a 25-minute drive from Mattole campground to the county park, but there are 30 first-come, first serve campsites & a coin-operated shower at Arthur M. Way.
- Mattole Beach is also where most backpackers begin their trek along the Lost Coast Trail
SET UP CAMP & CHILLAX!
- Congrats, you scored a FCFS campsite! Explore the campground & dip your toes into the ocean!
ENJOY A SUNSET DINNER & S'MORES
- Cook dinner, huddle around the campfire & enjoy an evening of stargazing & delicious s'mores.
MAKE BREKKIE, PACK LUNCH & DAY HIKE TO PUNTA GORDA LIGHTHOUSE VIA THE LOST COAST TRAIL
- This is a 7 mile round-trip coastal hike with 383 feet of elevation gain. Check yo' tides! There's a section of this trail that's impassable during high tide.
- Bring at least 2 liters of water, snacks, sunscreen, sun hat, bug spray & a jacket since it's almost always windy along the coast
- You'll be walking on sand so the hike will be slower going. Give yourself plenty of time.
- Explore black-sand beaches, tide pools & dunes along the way
- There's a stream crossing near the lighthouse so be prepared if you get a bit wet
HAVE LUNCH & ENJOY THE VIEWS AT PUNTA GORDA LIGHTHOUSE
- The lighthouse was built in 1912 and is now a historical landmark, albeit not in the greatest condition.
- That being said, it's a cool, secluded viewpoint. There's an elephant seal colony near Punta Gorda so keep an eye out for some wildlife
RETURN & UNWIND BACK AT CAMP
- Clean yourself off & go wade in Mattole River
- If you bring your own inner tube(s) you can also float along Mattole River
COOK UP DIN-DIN & DESSERT
- Savor your last evening at Mattole Campground
DAY HIKE: 7 miles round-trip with 383 ft of elevation gain, about 4 - 5 hours
PACK UP & CHECK OUT BY 11 AM
- Cook up brekkie, pick up any random pieces of litter around camp, and load up the car
There are four federally endangered species living in King Range: the Coho Salmon, Chinook Salmon, steelhead, and northern spotted owl.
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