The mission of California State Parks is
to provide for the health, inspiration and
education of the people of California by helping
to preserve the state’s extraordinary biological
diversity, protecting its most valued natural and
cultural resources, and creating opportunities
for high-quality outdoor recreation.
The idyllic setting
and rustic redwood
buildings of historic
create a peaceful
California State Parks supports equal access.
Prior to arrival, visitors with disabilities who
need assistance should contact the park
operator at (707) 937-5755. This publication can
be made available in alternate formats. Contact
email@example.com or call (916) 654-2249.
CALIFORNIA STATE PARKS
P.O. Box 942896
Sacramento, CA 94296-0001
For information call: (800) 777-0369
(916) 653-6995, outside the U.S.
711, TTY relay service
Discover the many states of California.™
Mendocino Woodlands State Park
39350 Little Lake Rd., Mendocino, CA 95460
© 2013 California State Parks
long the Little North Fork of Big
River, Mendocino Woodlands State Park
sits tucked among 720 acres of secondand third-growth redwoods. Mendocino’s
ancient coast redwoods grew to heights
up to 370 feet—Earth’s tallest trees.
Organized groups can reserve time to
camp within the hushed forest and enjoy
the park’s historic buildings. Day users
can hike in the recreational area and
Northern Pomo groups once lived inland
and traveled through this area. At the
mouth of Big River—west of Mendocino
Woodlands—the Northern Pomo built a
summertime village called Buldam.
Spanish and Russian colonists landed
on the coastal Pomo territory in the early
1800s. Thereafter, Pomo lands were taken
by Mexican land grantees and arriving
settlers seeking their fortunes from gold
Once their permanent villages were
usurped, the Pomo first moved to
Buldam. Those native people who
survived rampant disease epidemics
were soon rounded up and forced to live
on reservations at Mendocino and later in
Round Valley. The Pomo were imprisoned
with other native people from the Yuki,
Wailaki, Concow, Nomlaki, and
Achumawi/Pit River tribes. Their land
was never returned.
Works Progress Administration Construction
During the Great Depression following the financial crisis of 1929,
employment plummeted. Many Americans lost their homes and
farms. President Franklin Roosevelt put New Deal programs
in place to stimulate employment, relocate people to better
farmland, and conserve existing natural resources. One program
planned construction of 46 Recreation Demonstration Areas
(RDAs) across the country. These rural recreation camps would
then be turned over to each of their respective states.
WPA crewmen working on
The National Park Service (NPS) and the U.S. Forest Service
recreation hall roof, ca. 1938
hired several hundred thousand young men, known as the
Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), to build the camps. The NPS purchased 5,245 acres for the
Mendocino Woodlands Recreation Demonstration Area in 1935. The existing logging camps, school
and hotel at the site were razed for the RDA. Local craftsmen and laborers hired by the Works
Progress Administration (WPA), aided by CCC workers, then erected more than 120 buildings,
cabins, and other “park rustic” structures, using local redwood and native stone.
The NPS turned the Mendocino Woodlands RDA over to the State of California in 1947. In 1949,
the nonprofit Mendocino Woodlands Camp Association was founded to manage and maintain
the facility. A narrow 700-acre river corridor became Mendocino Woodlands State Park in 1976. Of
America’s 46 WPA- and CCC-built RDA camps, Mendocino Woodlands is one of only two to maintain
its historic integrity, artistic significance and original usage. The park was designated a National
Historic Landmark in 1997.
Crewmen and tent campsites, ca. 1938
area is sandstone bedrock interspersed
with siltstone and shale.
Logging Engine No. 1 along Big River
Today’s surviving Pomo live on 20
“rancherias” in Mendocino, Sonoma, and
Lake counties, where they practice their
ancient customs and cultural traditions.
Cargo salvagers from the 1850 Frolic
shipwreck off the Mendocino shores saw the
economic potential of coast redwood timber.
Along Big River, roads were soon graded to
build logging camps, a hotel and a school.
Bull and oxen teams dragged huge
redwood logs to the river, where they floated
downstream to the Mendocino Lumber
mill at Big River’s mouth. In 1893, railroads
replaced livestock. After the old-growth
trees were gone, the mill closed in 1938.
The moderate coastal climate varies only
about 15º each day. Winter rain and some
morning or evening fog is common. High
temperatures reach into the 80s, while
winter temperatures may dip below the 40s.
Mendocino Woodlands lies within the
Big River Basin on the coastal side of
the Mendocino Range. The river canyon
composition of this Franciscan Coastal Belt
Flora and Fauna
Willow and alder trees
line the creeks and
river; tanoak and
madrone stand among
redwood, Douglasfir, hemlock and
big leaf maple on
the upper slopes.
Wild roses, trillium, and
stream, phantom and
calypso orchids grow among the park’s
Coho, steelhead, and some Chinook
salmon spawn in the healthy stream
ecosystem of the Little North Fork. Beavers
paddle in the man-made ponds. Species
of concern are Northern spotted owls,
Cooper’s hawks and goshawks.
Riparian species in the watershed include
southern torrent salamanders, frogs, river
otters and western pond turtles. The
flute-like melody of a Swainson’s thrush
competes with the songs of Wilson’s
warblers and hermit thrushes.
The camp was developed with a mandate to
provide quality environmental education.
An on-site nature center, herbarium and
library enhance learning activities at
the Mendocino Outdoor Science School
(MOSS). Some MOSS scholarships are
provided by Save the Redwoods League.
Weekend workshops, field trips, and
service-learning days also allow city
dwellers and underserved children to bond
A few vestiges of its former logging days
may be seen in the park. Near Camp 3,
loggers built the rock
than a century ago, when the gulch served
as a logging quarry.
Eight hiking trails and the ridge road offer
25 miles of forested paths through the park
and adjoining Jackson Demonstration State
Forest. The Big Tree and Old Jeep trails
lead hikers to one remaining old-growth
redwood, the Big Tree, scarred by lightning.
Camping at Mendocino Woodlands is
by group reservation only. View the park’s
calendar and driving directions at
• Except for service animals, no pets
are allowed in the park.
• All natural and cultural features are
protected by state law and may not
be disturbed or removed.
• Swim in the river and ponds at your own
risk. Hidden objects and holes may be
present. No lifeguards are on duty.
• Please be quiet and respect the forest
stillness for the sake of other users.
NEARBY STATE PARKS
• Mendocino Headlands State Park
735 Main St., Mendocino 95460
• Van Damme State Park,
Highway 1, Little River 95456
This park is operated by the nonprofit
Mendocino Woodlands Camp Association.
For information, reservations, and directions,
or call (707) 937-5755.