Benbow Lake State Recreation Area

Quick Facts

Benbow Lake State Recreation Area

California

(707) 923-3238

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

To provide power for the new development in the valley, a concrete dam was constructed across the south fork of the Eel River in 1928. The dam not only provided power but also created Benbow Lake.

The Benbow family, interested in preserving the natural scene around the Hotel and along the river, made efforts to place the land under State protection. In 1956 funds were approved for the Benbow Project was purchased in 1958.

Today the park consists of campsites and a large day-use picnic area. Hiking, picnicking and camping are popular summer time activities, while salmon and steelhead fishing are popular in the winter.

Map of Benbow Lake State Rec. Area (CA)

Latitude, Longitude: 40.062702, -123.783131

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Activities

  • Boating

    Benbow Lake is a summer-only attraction: the Eel River is dammed from Memorial Day to Labor Day, creating a lake that's very popular with swimmers and canoeists. During this time, park staff offers guided "canoe hikes"--fun and educational excursions on the lake.

  • Auto/Motorcycle

    Auto/Motorcycle touring is not available.

  • Camping

    Today the park consists of about 1,200 acres with 77 campsites and a large day-use picnic area.

  • Fishing

    Salmon and steelhead fishing are among the most popular activities.

  • Hiking

    A couple of trails sample the recreation area, offering some great views of the lake. If a 2.5 mile hike isn't enough exercise, try swimming or canoeing on the lake or tackling the park's par exercise course.

  • Historic Sites

    In the 1920s, the Pratt family constructed a steam-driven sawmill on one side of the Eel River, while the Benbow family constructed a hotel/resort. Fortunately, not all the scenery went through the mill, so that in 1926 when the large Tudor-style. Benbow Lake Recreation Area today consists of 1,200 acres of riverfront, meadows and redwood groves. The park, fast becoming a cultural center, hosts a summer arts festival, a Shakespeare Festival, and concerts.

  • Off Highway Vehicles

    Off-road driving is not available.

  • Picnicking

    Benbow Lake Recreation Area today consists of 1,200 acres of riverfront, meadows and redwood groves. The park, fast becoming a cultural center, hosts a summer arts festival, a Shakespeare Festival, and concerts.

  • RVing

    The RV length limit is 30 feet, and the trailer length limit is 24 feet.

  • Water Sports

    Benbow Lake is a summer-only attraction: the Eel River is dammed from Memorial Day to Labor Day, creating a lake that's very popular with swimmers and canoeists. During this time, park staff offers guided "canoe hikes"--fun and educational excursions on the lake.

Seasonality/Weather

Campground open generally Memorial Day - Labor Day. Day Use open year round. Benbow Lake is a summer-only attraction: the Eel River is dammed from Memorial Day to Labor Day, creating a lake that's very popular with swimmers and canoeists.

Directions

Driving

2 miles south of Garberville on Highway 101. From Highway 101, two miles south of Garberville, take the Benbow exit, following the frontage road to the park. Turn into the campground and drive to its north end. The trail leaves from campsite 73. During the off-season, when the upper campground loop is closed, begin this walk at campsite 11 and hike an extra 0.25 mile.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(707) 923-3238

Links