Keep food and scented items in a secure place so that bears cannot get to them.
Dogs must be on leash and attended at all times.
Fires are only allowed in provided fire rings.
To prevent the spread of invasive pests, obtain firewood locally.
Mad River Campground
Mad River Campground is in the southern portion of Six Rivers National Forest, southeast of Eureka and only 4 miles north of Ruth Lake. Visitors to the campground usually make the short trip up to Ruth Lake for the day, taking advantage of the boating, waterskiing, fishing, and swimming opportunities there.
Mad River Campground offers 40 campsites on a bluff overlooking the Mad River. Oaks, manzanita, and Douglas fir provide good shade for the sites. All the campsites can accommodate RVs, trailers, and tents. Most campsites can be reserved while a few are kept available as first-come, first-served sites. Faucets for filling water tanks are located at the first set of restrooms between campsites 26 and 27.
- Mad River Store, 5 miles north on Hwy. 36
- Journey's End store near the Ruth Lake Marina
- Dinsmore, 11½ miles NW on Hwy. 36
Attractions near Mad River Campground:
Fish the Mad River for trout. Head up the road to Ruth Lake for boating, boat rentals, waterskiing, fishing, and swimming. Hike on the Bailey Vista and Lakeview trails which start from Fir Cove, or the Picket Peak Trail which starts from Bailey Canyon. Fish Ruth Lake for rainbow trout, large & smallmouth bass, catfish, crappie, and bluegill. Enjoy a meal at Journey's End Diner.
Seven-mile-long Ruth Lake was formed by a dam on the Mad River. The lake is operated by the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District. Ruth Lake Community Services District manages many of the recreation facilities around the lake, including several campgrounds. Two other campgrounds - Bailey Canyon Campground and Fir Cove Campground - are managed by the Six Rivers National Forest.
The lake is popular with boaters, water skiers, anglers, and swimmers. Visitors enjoy warm summers and cool springs and falls. Facilities at the lake include a marina with boat rentals, a store, and two boat ramps. Boat Inspections are required before being launched into the lake.
When coming north on Hwy 101, skip the turn-off at the Zenia Road exit at Garberville. Using the Zenia Road will result in a 2-hour delay driving on winding back roads. Instead, continue north until you reach the Hwy. 36 exit near Fortuna. Turn right, heading east for approximately an hour until you reach the town of Mad River. After you cross the bridge at the Mad River, look for the Mad River Road turn-off on the right. The sign will say Ruth Lake. Continue for 10 minutes to reach the Mad River Campground.
For those coming from Interstate 5, in Red Bluff, go west on Highway 36 for about 2 hours. Watch for the Ruth Lake and Mad River Road turn.
General Camping Information
Opening and closing dates of campgrounds are only estimates, usually dependent on snow conditions. Not all campsites can accommodate trailers or RVs of all lengths. Check carefully on the website when you make your reservation to be sure your vehicle will fit your campsite.
In order to prevent the spread of invasive insects, obtain firewood locally.
Designated Accessible sites are usually reserved for people with disabilities who have a vehicle displaying an accessible parking placard or license plate. At campgrounds with many accessible sites, campers are often asked to choose other sites unless all other sites are full. In those cases, accessible sites may be available for general use.