Next stop is Mendocino County. We know that there are many stretches along Hwy 1 that are not ideal for driving a big rig with a tow vehicle, especially Fort Bragg to Leggett, but we really wanted to tour the Mendocino Coast. So we thought we would find a place to camp inland and then do some day trips to the coast. Willits, along Hwy 101, seemed like the perfect place. There is not a whole lot to choose from as far as RV parks and/or campgrounds in the Willits area. There is basically one RV Park, KOA, in Willits on Hwy 20 and three a bit further north and one about 6 miles south. Since we were going to be driving on Hwy 20 over to the coast we thought we would try out the Willits KOA.
We had read some not so good reviews about this place but it was mostly about the summer and lots of kids and having to wear wrist bands. Since it was winter we thought we wouldn’t have to deal with all that. Ummm…..so, we arrived about 10:45-11:00am and there was only one other rig in the park. Perfect, just the way we like it. The receptionist told us that it was $30 for electric or $45 for full hookups per night….and, drum roll please, since we arrived before check-in (1:00pm) we would have to pay an additional $10 an hour and that would come to about $30 extra (the same cost as one night). By the time the conversation got to this point it was after 11am (about 11:20am to be exact) and she finally said she would only charge us $20 extra. You have got to be kidding. She then told us if we didn’t like that we could take our rig and car and just drive around for an hour and a half. Really?
The park is basically empty and they won’t let us leave our rig there. I even offered to have us unhook the car, leave the rig there without hooking up so as not to use their electricity/water/WiFi, and we would leave and come back in the early evening. Nope, still costs an extra $20-30 to put our wheels on their gravel for an hour and a half. I guess when you are the only joint in town you can do whatever you’d like. We said “Thank you, but Goodbye” and moved on!
We have stayed at hundreds of parks/campgrounds around the US and Canada and we usually arrive early and this is the first time they wanted to charge us extra. We understand if they were full but the park was empty. So onwards and upwards.
And it turned out to be good fortune for us, a door closes and a window opens. So we headed back south to Golden Rule RV Park at Ridgewood Ranch. We had read a nice review about the park from Currently Wandering and it looked great. I love horses and since Ridgewood Ranch is the home of Seabiscuit I thought it would be a great place to stay for awhile and soak in the atmosphere and have a tour. But since it was winter the tours were not going on so we had not listed this place as our first choice. But back we came to the park and we are sooooo glad we did. What a delightful place, especially, like most places, when you have it almost to yourself. The park employees could not have been friendlier or more accommodating.
The RV park is about 6 miles south of Willits off hwy 101 near Ridgewood Summit. From there it is about a mile and a half down a narrow, windy road where you hope you don’t meet another big rig. It is quaint, charming, and very snuggly in a very picturesque valley. Golden Rule RV Park is part of the Ridgewood Ranch which is still a working ranch today. There is a mobile home park next to the registration office but the campsites are on down the hill so they feel very separated.
RV Park: Golden Rule RV Park
Location: About 6 miles South of Willits, California at Ridegwood Ranch
Site: 35 (pull thru)
Cost: $32 ($3 Good Sam discount)
Comments: A lovely, cozy RV park in a beautiful valley with plenty of wildlife to keep us occupied. It is a 6 mile drive north to Willits where you can get on Hwy 20 and be on the Mendocino coast in about an hour. We even got a bit of cell reception in the park. WiFi is available in the laundry room.
Besides the deer and the sheep which frequent the ranch there was also the the donkey braying we could hear once in a while. But the best part was when we woke up one morning to turkeys mating in our site right next to our rig. Thank you Tom! I will spare you the photos of the mating but instead will display the after effects.
The park has 35 sites but we only had about 5 other rigs in the park with us. I understand in the summer the park can be full which would give this park a completely different feel. Some of the back-ins looked quite nice as you could sit out back and watch the wildlife.
Even though Ridgewood Ranch does not offer tours during the winter they did tell us it was fine for us to drive around and look at some of the buildings where Seabiscuit lived and to go take pictures of the Seabiscuit statue.
A lovely, little ranch to spend a few days while touring the area. Thank you KOA!