Russian Gulch State Park

Russian Gulch State Park

Russian Gulch State Park has spectacular views from high bluffs along the Pacific Ocean. The park has 7,630 feet of ocean frontage. With its rugged headlands thrusting out into the blue Pacific, the park is thought of by many as the north coast’s rival of Point Lobos.

One of the many features of the headlands is the “blow hole.” Its formation was made by the incessant pounding of waves against the coastal headlands. A tunnel has been formed which comes inland about 200 feet, and at its end the earth has caved away forming a hole 100 feet across and 60 feet deep; one can look into this flower and plant-lined pit and watch the surging sea at high tide

Russians who established Fort Ross in 1811 were probably the first white men to explore and chart this area. Later, when cartographers were sent out by U.S. Government to chart this spot was called Russian Gulch for want of a better name.

In 1852 Harry Meiggs, a San Francisco engineer and promoter, erected a sawmill at Big River. This was the start of redwood lumber industry on the Mendocino Coast.

Soon other mills were popping up in all the little inlets, or “dog holes” as they were called. Since the sea was the only means of travel, these dog holes such as Russian Gulch were regular stops for the little schooners traveling from San Francisco to Humboldt Bay. They would bring freight and passengers on the way north and pick up lumber and passengers on the way back.

This was a very dangerous operation in bad weather, and many of the little ships were lost. Some of the old iron rings used to hold the high lines that loaded lumber on the ships can be seen anchored in the rocks along the headlands.

Redwood was considered excellent material for railroad ties, and Russian Gulch produced many of the ties used on the transcontinental railroad. Shingles were also produced here . One of the first redwood shingle mills in this part of the country was built on the site where the recreation hall stands today.

Recreational Opportunities

This park is known for the heavily forested Russian Gulch Creek Canyon, a headland that features the Devil�s Punch Bowl (a large, collapsed sea cave with churning water), and a beach that offers swimming, tide pool exploring, skin diving and rock fishing. Inland, there is a 36-foot high waterfall.accessible by a walking trail. Hikers enjoy miles of hiking trails. The park also has a paved three-mile bicycle trail.

The upper meadow overlooks the Pacific Ocean, and is a great place for weddings.

Seasons Accessible

Year-round. Weather is changeable; recommend layered clothing. Campground closes in off season. Call 707-937-5804 seasonal campground opening.

Fees: Day use fee. Fees charged for camping.

For More Information, Contact:

California State Parks
12351 N. Highway 1, Mendocino, CA 95460
707-937-5804 · fax 707-937-2953


Russian Gulch State Park