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“Good stop along the coast” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Van Damme State Park

Van Damme State Park
Hwy 1, Mendocino, CA 95430
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Ranked #7 of 13 Attractions in Mendocino
Type: Beaches, State Parks, Outdoors
Activities: Fishing, Hiking
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Attraction details
Owner description: Picturesque spot known for its Pygmy Forest of small trees and Fern Canyon.
Top Contributor
65 reviews 65 reviews
18 attraction reviews
Reviews in 33 cities Reviews in 33 cities
45 helpful votes 45 helpful votes
“Good stop along the coast”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 9, 2012

We camped one night in a tent at Van Damme. We made reservations as we saw that the spots were starting to fill up before the week were planning on staying there along our road trip up the coast. I'm glad we made early reservations, since the campground was sold out upon our arrival.

The campground was a mix of couples, small families and large groups. Everyone was having a good time during the day and evening, but became quiet and respectful after everyone started going to bed.

The sites are nicely spaced out and some have trees. We stayed in the upper loop, which I would recommend. The spots on the inside of the "medow" loop are pretty much on grass, not many trees. The more forested sites are around the outside of the loop.

The only bummer was that the showers were ICE cold. I waited and waited for the water temperature to get warm and it just stayed cold.

If you get a chance to drive through Mendocino, they have a beautiful walk along the cliffs you can park and walk around.

Visited June 2012
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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78 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
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English first
Sunnyvale, California
Senior Contributor
42 reviews 42 reviews
11 attraction reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
35 helpful votes 35 helpful votes
“Best Family Camping for 1st Timers!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 5, 2012

This is my first time camping and with our 7 yrs. old daughter. I'm "high maintenance" and usually requires nice hotel amenities to relax, but was pleasantly surprised given this is my 1st camping experience ever. This was a last minute decision (hence, couldn't pick the ideal site) and yet we had a wonderful relaxing and quality family time. I was worried that it was going to be busy on a 4th of July week but it wasn't. We stayed at site 20 and it was perfect because it was across from the bathrooms/shower facility. Just ideal for family and for "beginner campers". We stayed for 2 nights, 3 days. Please read more for the pros / cons and tips.

- Big campsite with lots choices (sites 16-20 is parallel to park road, but we didn't mind given that we've made less than 3 days reservations) for tent camping
- Site 20 was spacious, big, and next to the stream (I like it but some people may not like it)
- Hot shower facility - coin operated, "clean" for campgrounds, and enclosed (this is better than what I expected). The bathrooms were clean and with an electric outlet (was surprised)
- Nice hikes, we took a short one to see pygmy forest (drive to the entrance near the Little River Airport and walk for about 1/4 miles), daughter has low tolerance for hiking so it was perfect
- Near Van Damn beach and Big River beach (prefer this one, sandy and was perfect for my daughter to fly kite and play in the water/sand)
- For fun with our daughter, we played on the beach, fly kites, play frisbee, meander in Mendocino and at night - just played game /read, and of course, made SMORES! - next time, bring our bikes!
- Scenic, very lush and beautiful
- Very little bugs, was expecting lots of mosquitoes but not much and we wore long sleeves
- Relaxing the whole time, not a lot of crowds or noise
- $35/night is a great deal and was appreciative that there was coined operated shower facility

- I have very little "cons" because I expected to be no hot showers or flush-able toilets or places to go and "stuck" in the campsite, lots of bug, but to my surprise, so only two cons
- Site 20 is across from the showers/bathrooms (We liked it that it was close by as our daughter needed to use it lots at night) - there was no smell or anything fumes. The light did bother us a little bit, but we blocked out the light by using a light tarp on side of the tent.
- Cold at night, but that's because I'm not used to cold weather all my life, but we just layered up

- Bring lots of quarters
- Book in advance to get the site you like (if you like stream, then 20-31), if you don't like stream, stick to 5-13 and or 31 - 74 (above in the forest)
- If you enjoy biking, bring bikes
- Layers to keep warm at night , it's a bit breezy but my hubby loved it
- Heard from the ranger, go around August as the weather is really nice
- Just buy firewood there


Visited July 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Folsom, CA
Top Contributor
58 reviews 58 reviews
18 attraction reviews
Reviews in 26 cities Reviews in 26 cities
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
“State of California has run out of money.”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed June 7, 2012

They jacked the camping rate up to $35 a night, which is high. Shower fee was also increased to $1.00 for 5 minutes and all I got was a cold shower. Two of my table's legs were broken and the grill in the fire pit was almost non-existent. I would think that the State would honor there extremely high prices with much better service. Must be that all the money is going elsewhere. I'll probably never stay at a California Campground again.

Visited June 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
petaluma, CA
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
4 attraction reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Nature at it's Best”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 5, 2012

We have camped at Van Damme many times and have found it to be a beautiful and inviting experience. It is just across the road from a beach where divers go for abalone.
We did RV camping, but many do tent camping as well.
There is an upper level and lower level campground and we have stayed in both. I prefer the lower level, just because it is easier access if one is going in and out of the park exploring.

Visited July 2011
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Roseville, CA
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“Beautiful Hike!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 1, 2012

The trails through the fern canyon are absolutely breathtaking! We were staying at a local B&B and returned for another day hike this year because we enjoyed it so much the last time.

Visited May 2012
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