Shelter Cove RV Park & Campground

Shelter Cove was not the original plan for our family camp out…… Sequoia National Park was.  But, as we got closer and closer to our reservation date for Dorst Creek Campground, the possibility of it being closed due to a lack of water became more of a worry.  The park service assured those with reservations that if that happened we would be rerouted to Kings Canyon Campground.  That solution wasn’t attractive to us because it gets pretty hot there in the summer.  So, Chris took it upon himself to find another place and Shelter Cove is what he found.

Frankly, I was doubtful of a place that had availability in July without much advance notice.  What was wrong that an RV park on the California coast was not booked during peak vacation season?  But the section of the California coast that Shelter Cove is a part of has a distinction that sets it apart from the rest of the coast and that distinction is accessibility……. or the lack of it.


Shelter Cove is part of the Lost Coast of California which runs from the north part of Mendocino County through the King Range in Humboldt County.  This is where majestic forest meets the Pacific Ocean.  Back in the days of the construction of Highway 1 the powers that be determined this section of the coast “too rugged” for such an endeavor and left it untouched.  Without a highway the accessibility is limited to a 21 mile stretch of road that travels up and over the mountain range filled with treacherous hairpin curves and steep grades. To say that hauling a 30 ft. fifth wheel over this road was hair raising is a bit of an understatement.  In fact, I would venture to say, that afterwards Greg’s bald spot had gained some ground!  So, “hair raising” isn’t quite strong enough.  This 21 miles takes more than an hour to travel.

But, we made it…all of us…though not without some troubles.  Chris and Jacky experienced transmission issues that left them stranded on that road for over two hours with their two little ones. Then the same tow truck that picked up their broken vehicle, towed their trailer to the RV park before heading to the shop in Eureka.  Brian and Erica came up two days later with plans to tent camp driving my dad’s truck so that Chris and Jacky had something to haul their trailer back out of Shelter Cove.  So, their trip was not ruined.  We ALL had a wonderful time.  

Now, onto the RV park itself……..The community of Shelter Cove (which is the ONLY community on The Lost Coast!) features a small number of homes, a few Inns, one shabby looking motel, an air strip for small planes, a golf course and the RV park.


And…… EVERY site, EVERY home, EVERY spot has a dramatic ocean view.  For that alone this place can’t be beat.


The RV park is located at the southern section of town where the air strip and the golf course end.  There is nothing grand about this RV park other than it’s location.


The sites are very narrow and feature little to no landscaping.  They do all have electric, water and sewer hook-ups.  There is a tent camping section that’s actually more attractive than the RV sites.  The tent camping sites have water.  The RV park does have it’s own deli (serves some tasty fish and chips) and a general store.  They also have showers (not coin operated) and a laundry room.


On the backside of the deli is an outdoor stage and gathering area that often features live performances. During the 6 nights we stayed they had two live performers one evening and featured a karaoke night on another evening.

What this place lacks in appearances it more than makes up for in friendliness and a “laid back” attitude.  As I said, the RV sites are very narrow and, since no one was next to us, we took the liberty to “spread out” for the first 4 days until a camper did show up to that site.


No one seemed to have an issue with that at all.  And, of course, the greatest plus to the RV park is it’s location.


I may be sitting in my less than attractive RV site but I have a beautiful ocean view.  And…… in walking distance are multiple


                      black sand beaches as well as

DSCN0415                                                                                                                     multiple tide pools to explore.

 This is a “big time” fishing place and most of the other campers were fisherman.  Some came with their own boats and others (like our neighbors) booked charters.  They said that they come every year and bring plenty of ice chests to bring home their catch.


In fact, after their first day out on the water they generously shared a lovely piece of salmon and two crabs. All of our seafood eaters were in a paradise of freshness.

You may think that the air strip was an annoyance but it wasn’t.  At the most there were three planes that either landed or took off during one day to the delight of our grandchildren.  Also, to the delight of our grandchildren, were the daily visitation of the deer.


They seemed to relish the grass on the golf course near the air strip and didn’t seem to mind


                             when the kids were walked out for a closer look.

 Here are the positives and negatives for Shelter Cove RV Park and Campground…………

Positives                                                             Negatives

Full Hook-ups                                DIFFICULT to get to

Showers                                       Small sites

Laundry                                       NO cell service for most providers

Fire Rings

Deli and Groceries

Beautiful Location

Friendly People  


They have a website but it does not list rates.  You have to call (707)986-7474 for that information.  We paid $45 a night plus a couple of additional bucks for our dogs.

In conclusion……would we return to Shelter Cove?  


                        Sophia says, “Yes”.  


                      Daren says, “Yes”.


                       Isla says, “Yes”.  

On the day of our arrival, after that harrowing drive, we said, “NO”.  After a couple of days we thought that we would if we just drove in cars to a rented house.  The drive in a car isn’t nearly as stressful.  Then, on our final day, after hauling our trailer back out over that harrowing 21 miles, Greg decided that, now that he knows it, he would be willing to do it again.  So, who knows!

But, if you choose to check out Shelter Cove make sure your brakes and transmission are top notch, take those grades in low gear and be aware……..this is NOT for sissies!




One comment to Shelter Cove RV Park & Campground

  • Cathy  says:

    I really enjoyed your post about Shelter Cove: my folks use to take us up there at least once a year when I was young. I still remember the deer on the air strip. I have been telling my husband that I’d like for him to see it, and that we should pull our 30′ trailer there. It was good to get a heads up about the road. I also loved seeing the photos of the house you rented: maybe that’s the way to go…. Our biggest travel trailer challenge was the Big Horn Mountains heading to South Dakota, but now we have a new truck which should help out greatly. Happy travels to you in 2017, and thank you again for the review of Shelter Cove- Cathy Wilson, Clearlake, CA

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