Day Use Area
Mendocino Headlands State Park
What is open now?
- Parking lots.
- Day use areas.
- Beaches and trails.
- Special events as directed by the guidelines in the Blueprint for a Safer Economy.
Protect yourself, family, friends and your community by following these prevention measures:
- Know Before You Go – Prior to leaving home, check the status of the park unit you want to visit to find out what restrictions and guidelines are in place. Have a back-up plan in case your destination is crowded. Stay home if you are sick
- Plan Ahead – Some restrooms will be temporarily closed to keep up with cleaning schedules. Bring soap/hand sanitizer.
- Play It Safe – Find out what precautions you should take when exploring the outdoors, especially if this is your first time visiting the State Park System. Learn more at parks.ca.gov/SafetyTips.
- Be COVID-19 Safe – State Parks continues to meet guidance from local and state public officials as COVID-19 is still present and still deadly. Effective March 1, 2022, state guidance recommends that all individuals, regardless of vaccine status, continue masking in indoor settings, such as museums and visitor centers. Universal masking remains required in specified high-risk settings. Please plan ahead as local county guidelines may differ from state guidance and visitors are urged to follow county guidelines when required. Read the latest COVID-19 guidance at COVID19.ca.gov.
- Leave No Trace – Leave areas better than how you found them by staying on designated trails and packing out all trash. Do not disturb wildlife or plants.
No Drones Allowed in Park
- The noise and sight of drones can alter other people’s enjoyment of nature
- A drone hovering nearby can feel intrusive and threatening.
- Drones can capture photographs and video without someone’s permission
- Drones mimic the behavior of predatory birds and can frighten wildlife
For these reasons State Park units in the Sonoma-Mendocino Coat District do not allow launching, landing or the operation of drones on State Park property.
Mendocino Headlands State Park with its unique blend of gentle trails, rugged coastline, secluded beaches and timeless history surrounds the picturesque Village of Mendocino on three sides. Miles of trails wind along the cliffs, giving the casual explorer spectacular views of sea arches and hidden grottos.
In any season, a visit to the Mendocino Headlands will provide a memorable experience. You might come to see the spring wildflowers, enjoy a crisp and clear fall day, escape to a cool summer climate or witness the winter migration of grey whale. The park provides Mendocino with a buffer area that preserves the town's historical presence. In return, the town provides a view of a unique blend of natural, ecological, cultural and social diversity. Activities range from hiking and surfing to fishing. Photographers and painters frequently visit various parts of Mendocino Headlands enjoying and capturing the scenic wonders. There are no camping facilities; visitors are day users only.
The Historic Ford House is a museum located on Main Street in Mendocino and is the Visitors Center for the Mendocino Headlands State Park. The Ford House provides current and historic information about to Mendocino visitors. It has a scale model exhibit of the Mendocino in 1890, built by local craftsman Len Peterson and the Museum offers a number of videos for viewing with topics ranging from the great migration of the gray whales to the steam whistle logging era of the early Twentieth Century. All videos are presented upon request and at no charge. Jerome B. Ford had the house built for his bride, Martha, in 1854. Ford was the superintendent of the first sawmill in Mendocino and is credited by many as being the founder of the city.
Exhibits at the Ford House carry the visitor back to another era. Throughout the house, are historic photographs, tools and relics that tell the story from the felling of the redwoods to the shipping of the lumber aboard the legendary doghole schooners. There is a small display of California Indian implements and seasonal exhibits on the local flora and fauna. Interpretive walks are led by docents and they also provide weekend lectures on area wildlife. The Mendocino Area Parks Association operates the Historic Ford House.
Big River Beach is part of a 7,400-acre wildlife corridor at
Mendocino Headlands State Park. Photo by Marc Holmes.
On the south side of Mendocino, accessible by vehicle from Highway 1, or by trails down the bluffs, is Big River Beach. This beach is used by picnickers, sun bathers and players in the surf. Mendocino Headlands State Park began operation in 1974. In 2002 the Big River wetlands was added to the park creating a 7,400-acre wildlife corridor which links diverse coastal and inland habitats into the largest piece of connected public land entirely within Mendocino County. Reaching from the Big River's mouth to 800-foot elevation inland ridges, the Big River wetlands includes a wide range of habitats. On the north it adjoins Jackson Demonstration State Forest and Mendocino Woodlands State Park. Public lands reach to the sea from Jackson Demonstration State Forest at Jug Handle State Reserve and Russian Gulch State Park. To the south, separated by a narrow strip of private land and Comptche Ukiah Road, lies Van Damme State Park with an RV campground and ocean access. Learn More about Big River Beach
The Headlands are also home to the Mendocino Music Festival. Held in July of each year, the Festival is over two decades old and is a magical blend of fine music by outstanding performers. Evenings include breathtaking concerts featuring the glorious Festival Orchestra, the popular Big Band concert, chamber music ensembles, dance, blues, jazz, world, and folk music. Days include chamber concerts at beautiful venues throughout Mendocino Village. Go to Festival Website.
The park surrounds the town of Mendocino, California, just off Highway One.
The weather can be changeable; layered clothing is recommended.