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When traveling to the Redwoods there are so many amazing campgrounds to visit. I have been to the Elk Prairie area once before but was not able to camp so made sure that on my most recent trip to make it happen.
One of my favorite locations within the Redwoods the campground itself is only a short distance to some of my favorite trails in the area.
You cannot go wrong at $35 a night to be in the direct footprint of the gigantic tree canopies in an area known widely for the frequently traveled paths of some of the forests most majestic elk herds.
The campground comes with all the basics, fire pits and picnic tables are located at each of the sites. The sites range in overall sizing with some large enough to fit smaller RVs but many designed for the smaller set up such as my tent.
While the ground is cleared, much like the rest of the location the soft wooded padding of the forest floor made for a comfortable place to settle in for the night. One thing you will want to remember when staying at this location is rain.
Rain seems to come and go frequently and can occur without any warning. While staying here I was periodically inundated by the persistence of rain both light and heavy.
While staying at this campground there are many benefits related to the overall location itself. Unlike many who will search for parking in small lots, you will have the built in benefit of having access to parking and thus some of the best entry points to trails. In addition, there is a small museum and Ranger Post at the entry to this camping area which makes for easy access to maps and additional restrooms.
However with all the benefits there are a few disadvantages as well including the lack of cell and internet service. This is only a disadvantage if you do not have a offline map. Come prepared and you will not struggle at all and will be at an advantage.
I absolutely love this campground! Everyone here was so kind to us during our stay. The lots are well kept and plenty of space available for big rigs. Check weather conditions before coming here if its raining it gets really muddy. Also had to cut our trip short due to coronavirus shutdowns in the county all parks had to close down.
I was not going to review this location for a second time following my fun stay here the first time, however I found that when I visited this time things were a bit different and warranted an update.
On my first trip I enjoyed the beachside camping while visiting and because of the late season experienced rains and dense fog throughout much of my stay, however amazing ocean views, sea foam rolling in and great ocean life. It was a great way to enjoy the location even during some of the crazy weather.
Visiting this trip I was there during a similar time of year and expected to experience similar conditions as I would walk down to my site and carry in my goods, only the parking lot was half blocked off and the spaces available were not as pristine as they had been on my previous visit.
Instead it looked as through they were working on the area and working to improve pull ins for larger units to possibly offer some form of RV parking which previously didn't exist. It also looked as though they were attempting to make the location a bit more accessible with large pads and concrete ramps being poured near some of the campsites.
It was a bit discouraging to say the least as the access was limited a the camp and the views were obstructed by the ugly appearance of yellow tape and tall fences.
Additionally the toilets which previously had been available, all be it they weren't that great, were not functional at all and instead port a potty units had been brought in for what I hope is only a temporary fix. These toilets seemed to need some maintenance and were very discouraging to use.
My hopes for this campground are that they will be able to return it to the enjoyable setting I had experienced the first time I visited sooner rather than later. If they are indeed expanding it I feel like it would be worth it because it was a very unique location and along this stretch of road there are not a lot of locations which boast similar views at the price point of $25 for regular single vehicles or $10 for those biking or hiking in.
- If you are not wanting to stay in construction have a back up plan for this location in mind. While this is a maintained facility maintained by the County I found it very hard to reach someone in regard to the status of the park when I tried to call.
- If you need supplies you have only a short drive to Arcata or Eureka where you can find just about everything you might need.
- Pack for a day at the beach, but also rain possibilities. Make sure you are bringing your rain fly and additional tent anchors if you are a tent camper.
When visiting the Redwoods, numerous camping options abound, however many of them can quickly see the prices soaring well into the$30-$50 range. I wasn’t wanting to spend quite that much and was relieved when I found the Panther Flat Campground just a short distance from the Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park area.
Unlike the state park, the fee to stay here was only$15 a night(single site) or$30 for double occupancy, which was more than worth the investment as the amenities compared to that of the state park itself. There are several reservable sites which can be accessed online, but most sites are first come first serve, available at the self pay kiosk at the entry.
Unlike other forest areas which have limited benefits to your stay, this campground has a host of amenities which will leave you feeling more than pleased with water spigots located throughout camp, flush toilets, trash services and showers.
The showers were potentially one of the biggest surprises for a forest campground I had seen in the area. Most camps of this price point offer very limited and sparse offerings but hot showers after a long day in the sometimes gloomy and drizzly Redwoods was a great asset.
Overall the size of the individual sites was nice and many were separated by dense forest. I found that the pull in was perfect for my smaller car and there were some sites which were designed for larger groups with multiple vehicles.
Standard site amenities included picnic tables and fire rings. This coupled with a light layer of pine needles for padding made for a very comfortable stay at the campground.
The campground runs alongside a portion of the Smith River, where during the warmer months many campers find recreation. For those wanting to escape the crowds a bit hiking along the river is accessible from this location as well and can take you well into the Smith River National Recreation Area.
The Recreation Area is most well known for fishing, something you can do from the banks of the campground access, but also is a great area for hiking, horseback riding and nature viewing. Although you will not be able to embark upon horseback or equestrian activities from this campground itself.
- If you are visiting this campground you will be able to get basic supplies within a 5 mile drive of the camp or more complete supplies and novelty items within a 20 minute drive.
- If you will be fishing while staying at this location make sure you have proper fishing permits as this area is patrolled by authorities upon occasion.
- Senior Interagency passes are accepted and discounts are applied for those providing display of these passes.
When I found this campground it was a last moment find. Originally I had intended on staying a little further up the road, but as the evening set in and signal was sparse I had discovered another camper pulling in at this location.
Unlike other campers which have reported on this campsite about a pay station, there was not one in tact when I entered. Upon further review of the site I also noted it is listed as a free campsite on other campsite services, so I am not entirely sure about the payment for the camp itself.
Sites were simply pull offs from the main gravel road, this area is frequented by those wanting to fish in the creek and campers who enjoy larger sites for rigs to be off grid. I spoke to a neighbor after arriving they mentioned it was a personal favorite for weekends to avoid the larger crowds which frequent the state campgrounds along the same stretch of highway.
Nothing to significant about the sites themselves. Many were primitive with only fire rings constructed by others of rock. I wasn't fortunate enough to find a location near a vault toilet, so being self sufficient I would say is a must when it comes to staying here.
The views themself were pretty spectacular when I woke in the morning to a light fog and overcast sky which seemed to waft down the side of the forest covered mountainous regions beside me. I was very excited by how, despite not having any frills whatsoever it was a very nice place to stay for an evening.
When I awoke the next morning I took a drive through the entire roadside camp and noticed the location seemed to continue to go on for quite some distance with some pull outs offering options for several camps at once and others being more allocated for single camps. The road was a bit bumpy in some places in a smaller car but with slow driving and smart driving you can make it with ease.
Super lush and foresty campground right by the Pacific Ocean. There is so much to see all around the campgrounds. You can go for a hike and the Rim Trail which perimeters the park, you can go down to the beach and hunt for agates, explore tidepools, look at birds and other wildlife, and go to the visitor center.
Each site came with a picnic table, bear box, fire ring, and two parking spots.
Sites were surprisingly large! We stayed at Site#99 and it was super spacious. It even had a hidden area that was under large trees that was perfect for setting up tents.
I love how the sites were also very private. Each site seemed to be carved out of the brush so you’re just enclosed in trees and bushes. Everything was so green!
The restrooms were really clean. Site#99 was a little far from the showers, but we had nice toilets right by us.
VIEWS VIEWS VIEWS! My gosh. We stated at Agate Campground (1 of 3 campgrounds at this park) and it was really close to the beach access. We did the Rim Trail hike and it was unbelievable.
- NONE! Perfect campground:)
Overall, I would come back here in a heartbeat! I know we came during off season so the campground wasn’t as full, but i’d imagine when this place is fully booked it would still be very tranquil and peaceful. Each site was like a little oasis removed from everyone else.
We traveled in off season (Oct) so several sections of this campground were closed. But even with that it was super easy to find a great site.
Tons of shade and privacy. It didn't feel as if you were stacked upon the people next to you.
Flush toilets and pay showers. Well maintained and super clean.
The camp host kept an eye out for those coming into the campground and did a great job.
A very easy walk to the river for a bit of fishing.
Well maintained, beautiful campground. Easy access to the river. Nice bathrooms with showers. Each site has quite a bit of privacy and the redwoods are simply stunning. I have only stayed here in the off season so I haven't had to reserve a spot, but I'm sure it's a popular place in the summer so you might want to check out out in advance.
Stayed in a tent here in November. Absolutely beautiful! We could see the ocean from our site and it only took around 2 minutes to walk to the water. It was $35 to stay one night which was a little more to pay than I'm used to, but very nice campground for tents or small campers and vans.
Running water in the bathrooms and there was even a shower. There was fire wood for sale for $8 and there was free wifi that actually worked. The camp host was very nice and helpful.
Fern canyon was about 2 miles down the road. Heads up there is a creek crossing that could be sketchy in a low clearance vehicle.
Will hopefully return very soon!