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Camping at Benbow State Recreation Area

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Benbow State Recreation Area is a state park unit of California located in the Humboldt County town of Garberville. The park is managed by the California Department of Parks and Recreation and covers several hundred acres. It features camping facilities, a large recreational lake formed by the Benbow Dam on the South Fork Eel River, and offers various outdoor activities.

Camping Information


  • Campsite reservations are highly recommended, especially during peak seasons.
  • Reservations can be made up to six months in advance through the ReserveCalifornia website or by calling their reservation system.


  • The park offers several campgrounds with a variety of camping options, including tent, RV, and group sites.
  • Some sites have electrical hookups while others are more primitive.


  • Restrooms and showers are available for campers.
  • Sites typically include a picnic table and a fire ring.
  • There are facilities for disposing of garbage and recycling, as well as dump stations for RVs.


  • There is a fee for overnight camping, which varies depending on the type of site and the season.
  • Day use fees may also apply if you're not staying overnight.


  • Quiet hours are typically enforced from 10 pm to 6 am.
  • Fires are allowed in designated areas only and may be subject to seasonal restrictions due to wildfire risk.
  • Pets are allowed but must be kept on a leash no longer than six feet and supervised at all times. Some areas may be off-limits to pets.
  • Check for the latest information on park regulations before your trip.



  • Fishing is popular in the South Fork Eel River, with steelhead trout and salmon runs in season.
  • Swimming and boating (without gas-powered engines) are common activities on the lake.
  • There are also hiking trails available for those who want to explore the area on foot.

Historical Significance:

  • Benbow State Recreation Area is part of the larger region known as the "Redwood Empire," which is famous for its majestic ancient redwoods.
  • The park itself and the surrounding area have historical significance dating back to the early 20th century, and the iconic Benbow Inn, a historic hotel, is located nearby.

Wildlife Viewing:

  • The park's natural setting is home to diverse wildlife, such as deer, river otters, and a variety of bird species.
  • Visitors are encouraged to enjoy wildlife from a distance and not to feed any wild animals.

Things to Consider Before You Go

  • Weather: Before heading to Benbow State Recreation Area, check the local weather forecast and plan your clothing and gear accordingly. Weather can change rapidly in natural settings.
  • Supplies: Make sure you have all the necessary supplies for camping, including food, water, and appropriate gear for sleeping and cooking.
  • Leave No Trace: Follow Leave No Trace principles to minimize your impact on the environment. Pack out all your trash and leave your campsite as you found it.
  • Safety: Always let someone know your itinerary and expected return time. Familiarize yourself with the natural hazards in the area, such as wildlife and potential for swift river currents or sudden weather changes.


Benbow State Recreation Area offers a serene camping experience in the heart of California's redwood country. With ample opportunities for outdoor recreation and a chance to unwind in nature, it's a wonderful destination for families, individuals, and nature enthusiasts alike. Prior preparation and adherence to park rules ensure a safe and enjoyable visit.

Map of Campgrounds in Benbow State Recreation Area
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