This northern California campground offers up the best of two equally idyllic worlds: lush forest and sandy coastline. Gold Bluffs Beach Campground is nestled in a flat, grassy expanse flanked by dunes, beach, and the thundering Pacific Ocean on one side, and bluffs covered in thick stands of coast redwoods, the world’s tallest living tree species, on the other. The campground is inside Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park along a 10-mile stretch of beach where fresh ocean breezes abound. Keep an eye out for herds of Roosevelt elk that occasionally graze nearby. With nearly 75 miles of hiking trails and a 19-mile bike loop in close proximity, there’s no shortage of worthy sights and activities to experience.
Gold Bluffs is 5 miles west of U.S. Highway 101 down a winding dirt road to the coast. The campground is nearly six hours from San Francisco and six and a half from Portland.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a bad site at this picturesque campground, but if you have the option, try to snag Site 7 or 19. Both sites feel like they’re right on the beach, offer unobstructed views of the ocean, and have a little bit of extra privacy (they’re also farthest from the bathrooms, which can be either a pro or a con depending on who you ask). The other sites that face the ocean are 9, 12, 13, 14, 16, 17. The rest of the sites face the bluffs, and some offer privacy in the way of trees. Site 26 is accessible by wheelchair.
When To Go
Gold Bluffs is a popular campground so it’s best to try and visit during the week. Summer offers the warmest temperatures (ranging from 40 to 75 degrees) and is therefore the busiest season, winter is quite cool (35 to 55 degrees), and rain is common from November to May. To try and avoid a full campground, aim for midweek during the shoulder seasons: late September and early October or early May.
The campground is about one hour from both Eureka, Calif., and Crescent City, Calif. These smaller beach towns have airports, hotels, restaurants, grocery stores, and anything else you could need to pick up on the way. There are some smaller towns closer to the campground with more limited amenities.