Trip · 3-day camping trip
For · Friends and first-time campers
Vibe · Moderate and fun
Reservation · Nope! It's first-come, first serve (FCFS)
Drive · 5.5 hours from SF
Ideal dates · May to October
Pets · Welcome at camp and on trails
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 and 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 and 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.
Official King Range NCA Website
Main image credit: N/A
Each campsite comes with a:
King Range NCA has four campgrounds: Mattole, Tolkan, Nadelos, and Wailiki. They're all FCFS and don't have running water, but they do have picnic tables, fire pits, trash collection, and vault restrooms.
Mattole is the only beachfront campground that gives you access to Mattole River and 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, and 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.
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.
The Mattole and Sinkyone tribes were the area's earliest inhabitants. They thrived on salmon from Mattole River.
The Punta Gorda Lighthouse in King Range NCA was known as the “Alcatraz of lighthouses” because of its remoteness.
Imagine a sleeping pad, bag, and blanket all in one. It takes some getting used to, but people love it.
Cuddle with your partner to the max in this spacious sleeping bag, primarily designed for couples.
It's not the fairest of them all, but this affordable sleeping bag delivers on warmth and comfort.
Whether you're a couple or prefer to sleep like a queen, this spacious air mattress will keep you warm at night.
This self-inflating mattress weighs 5+ pounds, but it's comfy enough to forget you're sleeping on the ground.
A soft, comfy jacket that comes in a variety of colors. Wear it in the city or the trail.
A dreamy, colorful sweater to sport around camp and on chillier day hikes.
This mineral-based sunscreen is good for the envrionment and your skin. It's water resistant too.
You don't have to sacrifice color for SPF protection. Look and feel good while protecting your lips.
Campers can use this pot and pan cookset while car camping or backpacking in the woods.
This 4-person cookset comes with a stainless steel cooking pot, pan, lids, plates, bowls, utensils, and more.
When a campground is short of sinks, bring your own. Clean your dirty dishes in this expandable bin.
This expensive stove is for campers who want compact, portability, and performance all in one.
A reliable, popular, and relatively affordable dual-burner camping stove that is fairly heavy, but performs well.
Add a little magic to your experience by hanging these twinkling lights around your tent every night.
These bluetooth speakers are portable and loud enough to help everyone get into the groove.
An affordable day pack for bringing snacks, sunglasses, and water on your next day hike.
You can bet some snuggling is happening when you bring this chair to camp. No complaints though.
Sturdy, reliable, well-designed, and more expensive than most camp chairs, but it'll last for awhile.
Sometimes you just want a camp chair that gets the job done. Nothing glamorous or fancy. Well, this is it.
Sleepover! This is a tent you can stand up in and have plenty of space for air mattresses, doggos, and more.
This was Popular Mechanics "Gear of the Year" winner, and it won Outdoor Retailer's Innovations Awards. NBD.