Ancient redwoods and famous swimming holes

Photo by Jeff Moser, Flickr Creative Commons
Photo by Jeff Moser, Flickr Creative Commons

Park Information

HIGHLIGHTS: Twelve miles east of Highway 101 along the banks of the Van Duzen River is Van Duzen County Park, a perfect camping choice for the warm summer and early fall days of interior Humboldt County. The park offers nature hikes through old-growth redwoods with some of the area’s best swimming holes.

ACTIVITIES: Arrayed for more than a mile along the northern bank of the Van Duzen River, Van Duzen County Park contains three old-growth redwood groves. Exploring these venerable giants via the Van Duzen Nature Trail is a must-do for anyone camping or visiting the park. In the middle of the park is Swimmer’s Delight, an name that succinctly describes Van Duzen’s main summertime appeal. Swimming in this cool river during the dog days of summer, shaded by ancient redwoods, is a sheer delight by any definition. The park is also an ideal place to picnic, and fishing is allowed in season.

VISITOR CENTER: None.

CAMPGROUNDS: Van Duzen is an excellent alternative to the better-known – and heavily frequented – state redwood parks. Thirty sites are available. The campground provides showers. RVs up to 30 feet are accommodated; 6 RV campsites have electrical hookups for an additional fee.

TRAILS: The park does not have an extensive trail system, but the Van Duzen Nature Trail will take visitors through three separate groves of ancient redwoods.

MUST-SEE UNIQUE FEATURE OR SEASONAL HIGHLIGHT: Swimming in the pristine, cool waters of the Van Duzen is almost required during a summer visit. The Swimmers Delight area usually has two swimming holes that are shallow on the accessible side of the river, and deep under sandstone bluffs on the far side, allowing swimmers and waders to pick their preferred depth.

HIDDEN GEM: Van Duzen’s general setting is a rarity: groves of ancient redwoods in a true riparian setting, evoking a time in the not-too-distant past when virtually all the Northern California coastal rivers and streams were sheltered by these majestic trees.

FEATURES ACCESSIBLE TO PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES: Day-use areas and campsites are accessible, but not the swimming holes.

DOGS: Allowed on leash in developed areas, but not on trails or in the river.

ENTRANCE FEE: $5 per vehicle.

SPECIAL EVENTS: Weddings and other events may be arranged for Pamplin Grove by calling 707-445-7651.

MORE INFORMATION: Visit the park’s website, or call 707-445-7651.

PLACES TO EAT AND STAY: The towns of Fortuna and Ferndale are near the intersection of Highway 36 and Highway 101; both offer lodging and restaurants.


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