Mendocino Headlands State Park is a state park of California, United States. It preserves the headlands (prominent land formations at the edge of an ocean or large lake) on the westernmost point of the North American continent, overlooking the Pacific Ocean and the town of Mendocino in northern California. The park was established in 1968 to preserve one of the most significant areas of coast redwood forest left in Northern California; it includes over 3 miles (4.8km) of coastline with views onto the entire length of the Russian River as well as inland to Mount Saint Helena, the tallest mountain in the area.
The park’s 2,400 acres (9.7km2) include 1,100 acres (4.3km2) of wetlands which provide habitat for endangered tidewater goby. There are more than 40 miles (64km) of trails open year-round for hiking, including part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail and the entire Skyline Boulevard trail. Inland there are several lakes, including Lake Cleone, Lake Britton, and Lake Susan where visitors can take watercraft up to a maximum depth of 4 feet (1m). There is also a beachfront on Tomales Bay where swimming and tide pool exploration is possible. There is no drinking water available in the park, but bottled water may be purchased at the visitor center.
Visitors needing wheelchairs must bring their own. There are two designated campgrounds within the park, one on each side of Tomales Creek; these have 44 campsites between them, 24 with full hookups. No pets are allowed in the campground. Camping costs $10 per night per vehicle. A group camping facility known as “The Hut” is located near the main campground. This has eight sites, four with full hookups, that accommodate up to 50 people each. Advance campsite reservations can be booked through Reserve America. Group camping is not recommended due to dangerous wildlife in the area.
- hot tubs
- picnic tables
- parking lots
Other features include hiking paths
- boat launches
- historic buildings
Mendocino Headlands State Park has long been used for nude recreation. On the north side of Tomales Bay there is a small cove known as Naked Beach. From this location it is only separated by a steep cliff from the public path along the headlands; access is via a narrow gate that leads down into the valley.
Nearby towns include Calistoga, Fort Bragg, and Mendocino. The park grounds are crossed by U.S. Route 101, which turns west just past the entrance to the park; however, the road remains rural, without any commercial establishments, even after leaving the park. The park offers picnicking facilities, hiking paths, and beaches.
The park contains approximately 20 miles (32km) of shoreline; however, because some of this shoreline is owned by private parties, the actual amount of accessible shoreline varies considerably depending on where you stand.
Beyond the southern limit of Mendocino Headlands State Park there are additional parks, including Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Point Cabrillo State Marine Reserve, and Cape Mendocino State Marine Reserve. These reserves together cover almost 70 square miles (180km2), so there is plenty of room for everyone! The Mendocino Music Festival takes place in July, outside the park gates. The Mendocino Film Festival occurs every June. During the summer, there are often free concerts in the park. The Mendocino Book Festival is held annually in September.
Animals seen are:
- gray whales (during fall and winter)
- harbor seals
- harbor porpoises
- blue-winged teal
- cinnamon ducks
- common loons
- olympic smelts
- river otters
- stilt sandpipers
- harbor seals