“Life is not measured by the amount of breaths we take,
but by the people and places that take our breath away”
— Zayne Richard Simpson
(as displayed at the Manchester Beach / Mendocino Coast KOA)
The Manchester Beach / Mendocino Coast KOA is a beautiful campground on the wild and scenic Mendocino Coast. The campground is set in a shady copse of coastal pine next to Manchester Beach State Park. This KOA is a great base from which to explore local attractions, such as coastal vistas and beaches, majestic redwoods, Point Arena and Point Cabrillo lighthouses, and the Anderson Valley Wine Country.
Manchester Beach / Mendocino Coast KOA
44300 Kinney Road
Manchester, CA 95459
We stayed for 9 nights at the Manchester Beach / Mendocino Coast KOA in late-May of 2016. We have also visited this campground several times in the past for shorter stays. We have always been impressed by how friendly the staff is and how clean and well maintained the grounds and facilities are. This is the first campground we noticed where staff would promptly scrub the picnic tables and fire-box grills after a site vacated.
The KOA has a large property set within a stand of coastal pines and has many options for campers, including: tent, big-rig RV sized back-in and pull-thru sites, group sites and various sized cabins. The campground is beautifully landscaped with mature pines providing shade for most sites.
For this stay we had a partial hookup pull-thru site with water and 30 Amp electrical. Our site was well shaded and had very good separation between sites.
Our stay coincided with the Memorial Day holiday – this proved a lovely place to ride out the long weekend craziness. Booking our reservations months earlier, we had no problem securing a campsite. The campground had many sites open before and after the holiday, but the campground was full for the holiday weekend.
Our stay here averaged $51/night, including tax and KOA Value Kard discount.
Amenities On Site or Nearby
The campground provides a small general store with basic groceries, household goods, camping supplies, souvenirs and tourist info for the local area. A post office and small grocery store are available about one mile away in Manchester. Gas stations, markets and restaurants are available nearby in Point Arena and Gualala. A wide variety of groceries, supplies and other services are available nearby in Fort Bragg.
Accessibility – 4/5
The campground is easily accessible from Highway CA-1, although CA-1 itself is a challenge for larger rigs. More about this, below.
The lanes within the park are wide enough to easily accommodate the largest RV rigs, although a few lanes near the office which are difficult for large rigs to turn into, especially if parked vehicles prevent a wide turn.
The campground and facilities have handicapped access.
Please note that this section of the Mendocino Coast is quite isolated with few roads leading into the area. Roads are often narrow and quite windy, with some steep grades and very tight turns. For larger rigs, it is best to call the campground and ask for a recommendation about route.
Although we had stayed at this KOA several times in the past, this is the first time we visited with our current rig. I was more than a little concerned with driving our Fifth Wheel along the curvy coastal highway, CA-1, from Bodega Bay to Manchester.
We called the campground and requested current routing recommendations. For a rig of our size, the recommended route from Petaluma was to take the CA-101 to CA-253, cross to Boonville, take the CA-128 to the coastal highway, CA-1, and backtrack about 19 miles to the campground. Advice followed that under no circumstances should we trust Google or GPS directions which would attempt to route us down Mountain View Road!
Following the recommended route, we had no problems reaching the campground – there were some stretches of steep grade and sharp windy roads while crossing the coastal ranges, as well as one very sharp set of 10-15 mph switch back curves on CA-1. Taken slowly and swinging out a bit, there was no problem.
Departing the campground to head North, we took CA-1 to Fort Bragg and then CA-20, the Fort Bragg Highway, to CA-101. Following CA-1 from Manchester to Fort Bragg posed no real problem for us, despite a few sharp curves and the set of switch back turns mentioned above.
The Fort Bragg Highway also has steep grades and sharp turns, but is navigable for large rigs. Indeed, it is in use by full-sized semi-trucks and logging trucks. There are some very sharp turns with no shoulder and close to the hillside which need caution, especially since oncoming traffic may prevent swinging out as much as would be comfortable.
Facilities/Amenities – 3/5
The campground offers all of the basic amenities expected from a KOA – tent sites, full and partial hookups sites, rental cabins, laundry room, playground, picnic area, restrooms and showers, swimming pool and spa. The camp store was small providing basic food staples, RV and camping supplies, souvenirs, and a choice of local wines. The heated swimming pool is small, but clean and well maintained. Staff was very friendly and helpful.
The campground has a Kamper Kitchen area for preparing meals, as well as a nice fire pit social area. The campground activities included hay rides, pancake breakfasts, fireside ice cream social, movie night and Karaoke. The campground has bocce ball and volley ball courts, as well as a very nice disc golf course.
Site quality – 4/5
Sites are spacious and well shaded, with good separation between sites. Sites are level and surfaced with packed dirt and/or gravel. RV sites may have full or partial hookups. Sites have picnic table, fire ring and a fire-box grill. Our site during this stay had water and 30 Amp electrical, but no sewer connection. The campground provides an RV dump station, as well as a “Honey Wagon” pump out service for $10.
Scenic Value – 5/5
The campground is in a stunningly scenic region of the Mendocino Coast. The campground lies within a large stand of coastal pines, next to Manchester Beach State Park and about a half mile from the Pacific Ocean.
Location/Isolation – 5/5
The campground is along the remote Mendocino Coast and feels very isolated. The campground is quiet and receives little road noise, since it is about a half mile from the Coastal Highway, CA-1, and about a mile from the closest town, Manchester.
Paws Friendliness – 5/5
The campground is pet friendly and provides a spacious enclosed pet run. This is one of the largest pet runs we have seen at a campground – grassy, shaded and with plenty of room for Fido to play. A separate enclosed area is available for small pets. The campground property is large enough to take a good long walk with your pet. There are several dog-friendly beaches, nearby.
Overall Rating – 5/5
We enjoy our stays at the lovely Manchester Beach / Mendocino Coast KOA and can highly recommend this campground.
This section of the Mendocino Coast has very poor cellular service and is an extended network roaming area for our carrier, Verizon. As such, our MiFi hot spot was not usable for internet access at this campground.
The campground provided both free and pay WiFi options. The free WiFi was limited to 1 hour access once every four hours, or 100 MB bandwidth, whichever came first. Internet speed was very poor, only 1.5-2.0 Mbps for either the free or pay options. A wide range of paid internet access options were available, including: hourly, daily, weekend and weekly rates.
In practice, the free WiFi access generally ended within 20 minutes of use, even with all devices except the PC turned off and no obvious heavy upload/download activity, although it is possible Windows updates were running in the background. During prime-time hours, especially on the Memorial Day holiday weekend, internet access was almost unusable due to high demand.
The water at this campground tested moderately hard – we added our water softener to the water filtration stack.
A number of attractions are within easy driving distance from the campground:
- Manchester Beach State Park
- Scenic drives along the Shoreline Highway, CA-1
- Navarro River Redwoods State Park
- Point Arena Lighthouse
- Point Cabrillo Light Station
- Glass Beach at Fort Bragg
- Historic Mendocino village
- Wine tasting in the Anderson Valley Wine Country