Funds from purchases made at the following visitor centers go directly to supporting their parks.
45035 Main Street, Mendocino
11am – 4pm, Daily
The Ford House Museum and Visitor Center, listed on the National Historic Register, is located in the Mendocino Headlands State Park. The park surrounds the picturesque town of Mendocino on three sides and sits on the rugged Mendocino County shoreline where the Big River empties into the Pacific. Miles of trails wind along the cliffs, giving the casual explorer spectacular views of sea arches, hidden grottoes and secluded beaches. Day-use only. No camping.
The Ford House Museum and Visitor Center is both a historical Museum Circa 1854 as well as the official visitor center for the village of Mendocino. There is no entry fee, but a suggested donation of $2 per person or $5 for a family, is appreciated. A visitor will find travel information, pamphlets, brochures, a gift shop, and a very knowledgeable and friendly volunteer to answer any question you may have. The hours of operation are January through May 11am – 4pm, June through August 10:30am – 4:30pm, September through December 11am – 4pm. Open every day of the year.
The Museum has both permanent and seasonal displays.
Our permanent displays include a detailed diorama depicting what Mendocino looked like in 1890. Also on display are artifacts and tools that were used by the loggers in the 1800’s, and a display of native american artifacts. Several works of art by Emmy Lou Packard, who was a friend to Diego Rivera and Frieda Kahlo early in her life, show the inspiration she received while residing in Mendocino in the late 1950’s. There are also two displays of china used by Martha Ford, the first woman to reside in this historic home, from 1854 to 1872.
Seasonal displays include a collection of grey whale bones during the annual grey whale migration. Fresh wildflowers are displayed in the spring alongside works of art by local artists. And similarly we feature display of a fresh mushroom specimens and mushroom photos during the fall.
For information, or if you are interested in being involved in the Ford House Docent Council, please contact Ford House Manager Mimi Figlin-937-5397 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Mail: P.O. Box 1387, Mendocino, CA 95460
5980 Highway 1, Elk
Open March through November
Greenwood State Beach offers beach access and a picturesque view of the Pacific Ocean. The visitor center is in the middle of town and provides a glimpse of what life was like in this lumber town during the late 1800s.
The central theme of the visitor center is of Greenwood as a lumber town in the late 1800's through the early 1900's. You will find artifacts which were used in the lumber camps to harvest the redwoods and bark from the tan oak trees. The gallery room and main museum room are filled with photographs of early settlers of the town of Greenwood and nearby Cuffey's Cove and of the lumbering operations as well as photographs of the town during that era. There is an additional room filled with period furniture including an organ, stove, washing machine, steamer trunk, and bath tub.
Entering the visitor center you will see a mural depicting the Greenwood wharf which was built by the L.E. White Lumber Company. This wharf had an unique design as it was built on a series of outcropping rocks into the ocean. The schooners would tie to the wharf while loading redwood lumber, tan bark, railroad ties and passengers all destined for San Francisco. The ultimate destination of the railroad ties was China. The mural was painted by the well known muralist Michael Cole.
The weather can be changeable; layered clothing is recommended. Call 707-937-5804 for Elk Visitor Center seasonal hours.
24100 Mackerricher Park Rd, Fort Bragg
A 30 foot long Gray Whale skeleton greets you as you enter MacKerricher state Park; it is hard to miss! The fully articulated skeleton is displayed right next to the MacKerricher Visitor Center. It is impressive to be able to walk right up to the huge rib cage and look inside what was once the belly of the whale! You can relax and view the skeleton from a nearby redwood bench/sculpture carved by a local chainsaw artist into the shape of a mother gray whale and her calf.
Inside, the visitor center is packed with exhibits featuring the natural and cultural history of the park. Lifelike models of the creatures that live in the park may appear to be keeping an eye on you. There are also pelts from various mammals, both marine and terrestrial, that you are encouraged to touch, and other natural objects to view.
A gift shop offers park T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, games, toys and more! Your purchases help fund the Mendocino Area Parks Association’s educational programs and projects. The knowledgeable volunteer docent can help guide your visit, whether you wish to walk to the seal viewing platform on Laguna Point, take a long walk on the beach, ride your bike along the park’s old logging road, or plan a dinner out in nearby Cleone or Fort Bragg.
8139 Highway 1, Mendocino
Open 11am–3pm, Fri–Sun
The Van Damme Visitor center, which was built as a recreation hall by the Civilian Conservation Corp in the 1930s, features a life like model of an underwater surge channel, complete with all of the creatures and plants that live in the tidal environment. Hold your breath and pretend you are diving under the waves! You will also find a mural depicting an artist’s rendition of early Native American life along the coast.
A gift shop offers park T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, games, toys and more! Your purchases help fund the Mendocino Area Parks Association’s educational programs and projects. The knowledgeable volunteer docent can help guide your visit, whether planning a hike up the Fern Canyon, or planning a dinner out in Little River or Mendocino.
There is a beach access wheelchair, with tires that roll easily over the sand, parked at the visitor center. The chair can be reserved by calling 937-5804. A weeks’ notice is recommended.