Our early departure and follow-on sprint from Idaho left us a bit ahead of schedule, leaving us a full month to work our way down the length of California before our next significant obligation. Sure, The Golden State is rather large, especially north to south, but we figured on less than 1,000 miles, or four solid legs per our driving preference. This would allow us plenty of time to linger in places that appealed, or shorten driving legs to a modest two or three hours, perhaps both.
Thus, despite being well rested from our three lazy riverside days at The Laughing Alpaca we headed southwest into California and to the coastline proper, stopping after a mere two hour run near Trinadad. Sometimes when we have a “non-destination” layover in the works we will research two or three stopping points across a range of travel distances; a short, medium, and long drive campground option. In this case we took the short choice, Big Lagoon County Park.
This is one of Humboldt County’s gems. The fairyland campground rests under huge, mist-shrouded, moss-covered trees one mile off of US-101 and directly on the protected lagoon shore. The check in was a bit confusing; like many county campgrounds they do not man an entry gate. Drive deep enough into the park, almost at the end of the paved campground road, and you find a self-pay kiosk with envelopes and a drop slot, and the congenial camp host lives near there as well.
All sites are first come first serve, dry camping, and $25 a night, $22 with a veteran discount. This probably sounds steep for an unserviced site to some of you, but along the California coast this is actually pretty cheap: Mackerricher State Park near Glass Beach is $44 and they are completely full during much of the year. We loved the feel of the place immediately, and secured two nights rather than our planned one.
Once paid, maneuvering within the campground loop is a bit tight in places; I would not want to attempt it with a rig much larger than ours, and the sites are laid out in a seemingly half hazard manner, as if gaps between major trees and other natural openings among the extensive vegetation appears to have been the primary consideration. We selected a fantastic spot with an extraordinary set of trees branching over our outside living area.
The bay is ideal for casual beachside strolls or easy boating. Many of the campgrounds have a semi-private path to the beach; ours was not more than 50′ from RV to sand. The Pacific, particularly in Northern California and up, is quite cold, so we limited ourselves to the shore and occasional longing glances at the boats and other watercraft.
Though we would love to get back into the nearby Redwood National and State Park campgrounds, Big Lagoon will be a top choice the next time we are in the area. Next up: Glass Beach!