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View Full Version : Looking for a nice Beach Campground


joel1316
01-18-2007, 10:19 AM
I've always wanted to go camping near the beach, but have always been hesitant due to all the sand :rolleyes: and the usually windy conditions. This year, I've vowed to try it with the family! I'll probably plan the trip in July so that we have a better chance of warmer weather. I'd like the place to have a decent bathroom and showers as the wife needs her daily shower :p I'm in the Bay Area / East Bay and would like the campground to be about 2 hours away, no more.

Suggestions, recommendations and information would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

paradox
01-18-2007, 11:41 AM
I've always wanted to go camping near the beach, but have always been hesitant due to all the sand :rolleyes: and the usually windy conditions. This year, I've vowed to try it with the family! I'll probably plan the trip in July so that we have a better chance of warmer weather. I'd like the place to have a decent bathroom and showers as the wife needs her daily shower :p I'm in the Bay Area / East Bay and would like the campground to be about 2 hours away, no more.

Suggestions, recommendations and information would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

How about Van Damme State Park up in Mendocino County? I'm not sure if you can camp on the beach, but the campground (containing hot showers and toilets) is only across the street.

Rumpled
01-18-2007, 12:13 PM
You'd better think about August if you're talking about a CA State Park.
State Park campsites go on sale six months ahead of time and typically sell out on the first day.
All of July went on sale Jan 2 and all of August goes on sale Feb 1.

I think there's some decent ones near Capitola. Go hunt around on the State website to get your research and plans in place by Feb 1.

joel1316
01-18-2007, 12:43 PM
Yup, I'm planning our Summer camping trips now as I know "prime" locations get booked fast! I'll take a look at Van Damme, I don't have to be "on" the beach, just nearby... Thanks!

Anymore?

Anyone camp in the Bodega Bay area?

acegunnr
01-18-2007, 1:00 PM
Sunset State Beach (http://www.parks.ca.gov/default.asp?page_id=544), 16 miles south of Santa Cruz

joel1316
01-18-2007, 1:17 PM
Thanks ace.

New Brighton on Capitola seems to be completely booked for the Summer, LOL.

E. Fudd
01-18-2007, 1:50 PM
Sonoma State Beach
(Very nice stretch of coastline and connected beaches, collectively managed as Sonoma State Beach, just north of Bodega Bay. Goes all the way up to Russian River.)

http://www.parks.ca.gov/default.asp?page_id=451

Campsites at:

Wright's Beach
There are 27 developed campsites located adjacent to the beach. There are no showers, but campers may use the hot showers at nearby Bodega Dunes Campground. Maximum trailer length is 27', no hook-ups are available. Each site has picnic tables, fire rings and paved parking spurs. Running water and flush toilets are nearby. When the campground is filled, the overflow area in the Wright's Beach Picnic Area may be used for self-contained vehicles. This area is along the roadway adjacent to the kiosk. Reservations are recommended, especially on the weekends and during the peak season.


(Sites below are more inland, on the other side of the dunes along the very nice and pristine Salmon Creek Beach, and they do have hot showers.)

Bodega Dunes
There are 98 campsites with hot showers, flush toilets, and a trailer sanitation dump station. Maximum trailer length is 31', no hook-ups are available. Campfire and Junior Ranger programs are held in the summer months.

A few of Wright's campsites have ocean views. Can't beat that...

As with many CA campgrounds, weekdays are a lot less crowded than weekends. You might have better luck getting/reserving a site between Sunday - Thursday.

E. Fudd
01-18-2007, 1:57 PM
P.S. Bodega Dunes sites are a bit more sheltered from the wind. There are two groups of sites: one closer to the beach (walking distance), one further back up the hill. Flush toilet bathrooms and showers are clean.

In the summer, it does get foggy up there sometimes. If there is a heat wave inland, the fog may burn off or stay offshore during the day. But best bring warm clothes to layer up at night...

Another plus is that supplies/stores/gas/restaurants are just minutes down Hwy 1, back in the town of Bodega Bay. Just watch out for the birds... ;)

joel1316
01-18-2007, 2:16 PM
Thanks Fudd. I appreciate the inside scoop on things. Bodega Dunes sounds like the way to go. I've got a 4 season tent, so I guess I should pack that up in case of fog and high humidity. I like the idea of being sheltered from the wind. I went camping in the El Dorado forest in September and felt/sounded like a 747 was about to land on top of us, LOL. That wind was rediculous!

Sunset Beach sounds good, but by the way the Net describes it; it sounds like its in the middle of a ranch/farm? LOL

E. Fudd
01-18-2007, 6:01 PM
You might want to take a Sunday (or weekday) drive up there to scout it out. Nice drive out there, especially when everything is green. Lots of cows, sheep, etc. along the way for the kiddies to see...

Bodega Dune Campground charges a day use fee, something like $6. But if you plan on doing some beachcombing anyway.... If you access the beach over the dunes, along the trails, they will put you a bit further south of the more crowded area right by the more popular Salmon Creek Beach area by the free day use parking lot about a mile or so north. Heading south towards Bodega Head along the beach, you'll encounter fewer and fewer people.

Wright's Beach also charge's $6-ish for day use/parking. However, I think if you park outside the ranger kiosk, there is no charge. I think the locals do that. You can then walk in and checkout the campgrounds and beach. I did see a park ranger writing tickets on vehicles who went in and parked without paying.

fairfaxjim
01-18-2007, 7:25 PM
I second the Sonoma Coast State Beach campgrounds. The Bodega Dunes campground is walking distance to Bodega Bay. You don't even have to cook if you don't want to, there are several nice restaurants around there and a lot of things to do. Wrights beach is much smaller, and if you want hot showers you have to drive down the coast about 6 miles and use the facilities at Bodega Dunes - they let you do that if you are camping at Wright's Beach, which by the way is right on the beach, but still in a little canyon and has some sheltering trees and bushes. Reservations are made at Reserveamerica.com.
There is also a state park on the beach at Half Moon Bay, but it is pretty open, and more for suited for RV's than tents, but you are still up above the beach line in the campground, not down in the sand. You can walk into Half Moon Bay from the campground and there are a number of places to eat and shop.
Fudd is right on about it being a cool day trip to check it out. If you want to go into either campground just to drive through and check it out, I have never had the Ranger say no. I just say I want to check it out and they ususally give you the wave, or a limited time entry pass and let you go for free. Get a camground map from them and check off any sites you might want to reserve, because now you reserve by specific site in those three campgrounds. In Bodega Bay, The Tides is cool for drinks, or dinning, and they have a snack bar, gift shop, and deli-fishmarket if you just want to get some sandwiches. You can drive out on Bodega Head on the west side of the bay (see the hole where they started to build a nuclear power plant on the San Andreas fault in the late 50's or early 60's!!!) Drive up to Goat Rock beach, just before you reach the Russian River, and you can hike out on the beach to where there are hundreds of sea lions laying out at the mouth of the Russian River. Really good day trip.
We do Wright's Beach at least once a summer - got that booked already, and Bodega Dunes once or twice too - it seems to have openings a little longer.
I avoid the Santa Cruz campgrounds, as it is too crowded and too much traffic getting in and out on weekends.
One other in Bodega Bay is the county park at Doran Beach - out on the bay breakwater. Lots of camp sites, but also gets a little windy (all of them can get windy if the weather is that way.) I just couldn't handle the fog horn at the Coast Guard station going 24/7 - a little too nautical!
Van Damm is a great park too, just quite a bit further north. It is along the Mendocino coast. There are several others up there if you want to go that far, my favorite is Mecherricher State Park, just north of Fort Bragg. Large park with several camp areas in the trees just adjacent to the beach. Old log truck road that you can ride a bike from the park to town in Fort Bragg without risking your life on Hwy 1.
Happy camping!

joel1316
01-19-2007, 7:55 AM
Thanks for the detailed info guys! I couldn't find this info if I paid for it!

Swimming.... Are there any beaches near Bodega Dunes or Wright's beach that is calm enough for 5 year to swim in?

fairfaxjim
01-19-2007, 9:37 AM
Thanks for the detailed info guys! I couldn't find this info if I paid for it!

Swimming.... Are there any beaches near Bodega Dunes or Wright's beach that is calm enough for 5 year to swim in?
The beaches up along there are very dangerous - most of them you can't go in the water, lifeguard enforce it vigorously. However, there is a sandy beach section along the south side of Doran Beach Park, at the south end of Bodega Bay. You have to pay to park in the day use lot just inside the park entrance, watch for signs to the left as you enter the town of Bodega Bay. The other option would be in the Russian River at Goat Rock beach, as the sand bar has ocean on one side and river on the other side at the mouth of the river just before Jenner. A short hike out on the sandbar from the free parking lot.
A bit different area, but if you want a good place for youngsters, try Tomales Bay State Park, in the Point Reyes Seashore area - take Sir Francis Drake Blvd. all the way west from the Richmond bridge by San Quentin - through Inverness and bear right at the Y - follow the signs. They have no camping, but have a great sandy beach on Tomales Bay that is made for families with young children. There is a picnic ground in the trees just above the beach too. You can camp in Samual P Taylor state park, also on Sir Francis Drake Blvd., just past the town of Lagunitas, and the zip out to Tomales Bay. No day use fee at Tomales if you are camped at Samual P. Taylor. It is a great older campground in the redwoods with a stream through it that is great for kids to splash in and make dams and generally have wet fun. We only live about 10 or 15 minutes from there and still go camping 2 or 3 times a summer. We have started all our friends kids out camping there for years, as it is close to home if someone has a "I want my mommy" meltdown (Never hadthat happen yet!) It gets crowded on hot summer days, as it is way cooler that the rest of the bay area due to the redwoods. It is a great day trip destination for a picnic too.

joel1316
01-19-2007, 10:02 AM
Once again, thank you fairfaxjim.

ivanimal
01-19-2007, 10:37 AM
http://www.nps.gov/archive/goga/camping/kirby.htm

This is really close to you and my favorite site in the Bay area bar none.http://www.nps.gov/archive/goga/camping/images/cover-kirby.jpg

E. Fudd
01-19-2007, 9:11 PM
Fwiw, on Salmon Creek Beach, over the dunes from Bodega Dunes and north about a mile or so (or drive up Hwy 1 to the Salmon Creek Beach day use parking lot), there is a lagoon where Salmon Creek ends and meets the sea. Very calm over there. Watch the little ones around the water, even on that side. Last year an adult somehow drowned there. Newspaper report said he and some others were hanging on to a log in the deep end and he somehow lost his grip and went under (?).

Fyi, sometimes there are hundreds of birds hanging around the lagoon: seagulls, ducks, geese, other sea birds, etc. Guess it's freshwater and they drink and bathe there. When they get spooked, all take off, and circle the lagoon, it does remind one of the movie "The Birds"... :)

+1, stay out of the surf side, from there, all the way north to the ocean side of Goat Rock. Riptides, sleeper waves, sharp drop-offs. Warning signs say x number of folks drown out there every year....