Standish-Hickey has three campground loops. Two of them, Hickey and Rock Creek campgrounds, are next to Highway 101, on top of a bluff above the Eel River. At least one of these campgrounds is supposed to be open all year, but in fact the entire park can close in the winter because of bad weather or other issues. A much nicer third campground, Redwood, is down in the Eel River gorge and is only open in summer.
The park is pretty far (about a 40-minute drive) from any of the really big redwood groves. It does, however, have a popular swimming hole in the Eel River. It’s a bit of a steep hike down from the blufftop campgrounds, but if Redwood Campground is open you can save some climbing by driving down to its day use parking lot.
Right across Highway 101 is a pretty decent outdoor grill, the Peg House, that serves burgers and sandwiches and sometimes has live music.
There’s no cell phone service anywhere near Standish-Hickey.
Hickey Campground is on top of a bluff over the Eel River. Some campsites have limited views of the river, somewhat spoiled by the tall chain-link fence that keeps people away from the sheer drop-off. However, the woods block the view from most sites. The woods have been logged and there are small stumps scattered around. The campground is fairly open and the sites are closely packed together, so there isn’t much privacy. Some sites are especially close to the highway and get quite a lot of traffic noise, with trucks and cars roaring by just a few yards away. The sites at the edge of the bluff are better; the traffic noise is just a nearly-constant whoosh.
Site 43 has the best view; a break in the trees lets you see the conifer-clad hillside on the other side of the river and a bit of the river itself. The picnic table is right up against the chain-link fence where the best view is.
Rock Creek Campground is also on the bluff top but is nicer than Hickey. The drop-off isn’t as sheer here so there’s no chain-link fence, but there also aren’t any views. The woods are denser and lusher. The loop is smaller and doesn’t feel as crowded, maybe because there’s more vegetation separating the sites. The traffic noise doesn’t seem as bad here as it is in Hickey Campground.
Rock Creek has a hike/bike area where long-distance bicyclists can stay without a reservation.
The best site in Rock Creek is site 26. It’s set back from the road a bit, is in a densely-wooded area , and is well separated from its neighbors, so it gets an unusual amount of privacy.
The Redwood Campground costs an extra $5/night, but it’s by far the best of the three campgrounds. Mainly that’s because it’s in the bottom of the Eel River gorge, where almost no traffic noise from Highway 101 reaches. Instead there’s the pleasant burbling of the river. There’s easy access to the river as well as several trails that climb up the hillside to the stout Miles Standish Tree. The camp is on a hillside that’s pleasantly wooded with small second-growth redwoods, although this far up the Eel River valley the woods are much dryer-looking and nowhere near as scenic as the lush woods closer to the ocean, such as in Humboldt Redwoods. There isn’t a lot of ground-level vegetation to screen the campsites from each other. Most of the pullouts are really short; only sites 133 and 135, which share a pull-through driveway (meaning you can’t actually pull through if the other site is occupied), can accommodate larger vehicles. Unfortunately the campground is only open from July 4th (maybe a few weeks earlier if the river is low enough) to Labor Day.
Site 119 has the nicest redwoods. The creekside campsites (102, 104, 106, and 108) are nice, but they’re small, exposed to the hot sun, and on the busy entrance road to the campground.
Make reservations through Reserve California; search for Standish. There are three types of campsite:
© 2019 David Baselt