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Overview

Once a thriving lumber operation, Van Damme State Park now shelters the abundant flora and fauna along the Mendocino Coast. Located south of the town of Mendocino, in the community of Little River, this state park has seen its share of ups and downs. Currently, it is hanging by a string because of the California budget crisis. That being said, it is well worth a visit, because it stretches from the sea across Highway 1 and into the mountains, where visitors can swim, mountain bike, or picnic under a pine tree. Most people come to view the Pygmy Forest, home to sixty-year-old, cone-bearing cypress and pine trees that stand six inches to eight ...

Once a thriving lumber operation, Van Damme State Park now shelters the abundant flora and fauna along the Mendocino Coast. Located south of the town of Mendocino, in the community of Little River, this state park has seen its share of ups and downs. Currently, it is hanging by a string because of the California budget crisis. That being said, it is well worth a visit, because it stretches from the sea across Highway 1 and into the mountains, where visitors can swim, mountain bike, or picnic under a pine tree. Most people come to view the Pygmy Forest, home to sixty-year-old, cone-bearing cypress and pine trees that stand six inches to eight feet tall. Other highlights include the ten miles of trails through the fern canyon, and the bog, or Cabbage Patch, where you can see heaps of skunk cabbage. For a real treat, book a kayak trip in the parking lot and paddle along the coastline (you may even spot whales if the season is right). Camping near Little River draws families wanting an inexpensive place to lay their heads. However, if you visit this park, dress warmly; temperatures rarely get above 60 degrees, though when they do, locals crowd the black sand beaches looking to cool off where the river meets the sea. Note that this park is popular with abalone divers, which is not safe or recommended if you don't have experience.

Michele Bigley
About the Expert

Michele Bigley is the author of Northern California: An Explorer's Guide and Great Destinations Kauai from Countryman Press.

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Michele Bigley for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Consists of about 1,831 acres (7.41 km2) of land, 3 miles south of Mendocino, California.
  • Research: Wikipedia
  • Weather: Daylight
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Summer, fall, spring