Van Damme State Park

Mendocino Coast + Clear Lake Area, California

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Van Damme State Park


  • Van Damme Beach and Little River Cove.- Van Damme State Park
  • Van Damme Beach is a main attraction within the park's day use area.- Van Damme State Park
  • Van Damme Beach.- Van Damme State Park
  • Fishing at Van Damme State Park- Van Damme State Park
  • Picnic areas and fire pits along Van Damme Beach. - Van Damme State Park
  • The cove contains a rich underwater ecosystem that makes it popular with abolone divers.- Van Damme State Park
  • The day use area in the park allows camping in vehicles in the beachside parking lot. - Van Damme State Park
  • Van Damme State Park's Visitor Center is located near the entrance to the campground.- Van Damme State Park
  • Bracket fungus in Van Damme State Park.- Van Damme State Park
  • The entrance to Fern Canyon Trail is located in the park past the campground area. Hiking and biking are permitted on the trail.- Van Damme State Park
  • Coast redwoods near the Fern Canyon Trail in Van Damme State Park.- Van Damme State Park
  • Fern Canyon Trail in Van Damme State Park.- Van Damme State Park
  • Fern Canyon Trail next to the Little River in Van Damme State Park.- Van Damme State Park
  • Boardwalks thread through the park's pygmy forest.- Van Damme State Park
  • Bolander pine, a unique inhabitant of the pygmy forest.- Van Damme State Park
  • Typical campsite in Van Damme State Park.- Van Damme State Park
Overview + Weather
Fern Canyon Trail. Abalone diving. Beach access.
Often foggy.
Mendocino Coast + Clear Lake Area, CA
Pets allowed: 
Parking Pass: 
State Park Fee
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Summer, Fall
Current Local Weather:
Adventure Description

Adventure Description


Located 3 miles south of Mendocino, Van Damme State Park initially appears to be just a quaint beach and cove protected by one of the many headlands found along this stretch of coast. The cove is popular with beachcombers, kayakers, and divers; it reveals only part of the park's picture, however. The majority of the park's acreage is tucked away across Highway 1 and includes Van Damme State Park Campground and the lush Fern Canyon and Fern Canyon Trail.

With approximately 70 campsites, the campground sees most of its activity during the spring and summer once abalone season opens. In the winter you'll likely have the campground to yourself. The day use parking area on the ocean side of the highway is one of few overnight vehicle camping lots found along the coast, a welcome respite for many driving the CA-1 coastal highway at night. 

Draining into the ocean at Van Damme Beach, Little River connects the cove with the forested campground and Fern Canyon, through which the river flows. The Fern Canyon Trail, open to both hikers and bikers, is a beautiful fern-filled canyon shaded by young coast redwoods that entice visitors to explore. The trail follows Little River up the canyon for 2.5 miles and then continues into a cypress and pine pygmy forest. The forest's stunted growth results from acidic, nutrient-poor topsoil and a hardpan subsoil layer that is impenetrable for roots. 

Note that Van Damme State Park does not allow dogs on the Fern Canyon Trail.

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Updates, Tips + Comments

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Field Guide + Map

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Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(1 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(3 within a 30 mile radius)

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