Mill Creek Campground is so wonderfully peaceful and relaxing that some people come here to just hang around the campground and never go anywhere else. It’s in a logged redwood grove so it doesn’t have any old growth, but its location in a deep valley next to maple-shaded Mill Creek is really quite scenic; the leafy streamside maples and patches of dark second-growth redwoods make a very attractive combination. It’s also well away from any roads, so the only traffic noise is from people driving down the long access road to reach their campsites.
Compared to older, more centrally-located campgrounds like Prairie Creek and Jedediah Smith, Mill Creek is like a sprawling suburb: the campsites are further apart so it feels a lot less crowded, but you have to get in your car and drive to go anywhere — it’s a 2-mile drive just to leave the campground.
The northern half of the campground is for the most part pretty open, with a nice mix of redwoods and sunny streamside vegetation. The southern, more redwood-intensive half, especially the southernmost tip, is under the deep shade of second-growth redwoods, with lots of huge stumps.
Mill Creek is a drive-in tent campground that’s mainly intended for tent camping. It can accommodate RVs up to 31 feet; there are no hookups but there’s a dump station and water filling station. Each site has a fire pit, picnic table, and food storage locker. As at all Redwood National and State Park campgrounds there are strict rules that you must store all food in the locker, even while you’re around; animals in many state parks have completely lost their fear of people and can be shockingly bold about stealing food.
There’s no visitor center, but on weekend evenings a park ranger gives educational talks at the campfire center.
Sites 87 and 88 require a short walk-in and a bit of a climb, so don’t stay here if you want your tent to be right next to your car. The short walk pays off in a really nice setting, though; the sites are set back from the road in impressively dense second-growth redwoods. Site 87 is the more scenic of the two, but is a little lacking in privacy since site 88 looks down onto it.
Otherwise the sites are pretty uniformly nice; the sites around the edge of the campground are maybe a little nicer and more private than the ones in the middle. Site 39 stands out because it’s on a cul-de-sac next to the river and under some redwoods.
The campground has six ADA sites that can only be reserved by those with a disabled parking placard or license plate. If the sites are not reserved they’re available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Like most coastal state park campgrounds, Mill Creek has a hike/bike site for long-distance cyclists that’s available on a first-come, first-served basis only. It only costs $5/person/night, but if other people show up you may have to share the site. You can’t bring a car if you stay here; you really have to hike or bike into the campground. The campground is two miles (all downhill) from Highway 101 and it’s a 600-foot climb to get back to the highway.
The campground has its own trail loop. Although it runs entirely though heavily-logged redwood forest, the lush woodland is actually pretty scenic.
The campground is only open from May through September. Reservations can be made up to 6 months, but not less than 2 days, before the first night of a stay.
© 2018, 2019 David Baselt