The sun sets over the Pacific Ocean at Little Blacks Sands Beach. (Bob Wick/BLM)

King Range National Conservation Area

The King Range National Conservation Area (NCA) is a spectacular meeting of land and sea as mountains thrust straight out of the surf with King Peak (4,088 feet) only 3-miles from the ocean. The King Range NCA encompasses 68,000 acres along 35 miles of California’s north coast. The landscape was too rugged for highway building, giving the remote region the title of California’s Lost Coast. It is the Nation's first NCA, designated in 1970. Learn more about the unique partnerships and opportunities at the King Range.

The King Range NCA’s Douglas fir-covered peaks attract hikers and hunters, while the coast beckons to surfers and anglers. World-class mountain bike trails, and 42,585 acres of coastal wilderness are two of the highlights of this incredibly unique area.

The King Range Visitor Center has updated its hours of operation. The Visitor Center will now be open Monday thru Friday 8:00AM to 4:30PM. Closed Saturday & Sunday.

Staff will be available to provide visitors with crucial services such as trip planning advice, up to date conditions information, maps, tide charts, and bear canister rentals.

If you are planning a trip to the King Range National Conservation Area, please stop by and pay a visit!

For more information on the King Range NCA call the office at (707) 986-5400. Note: phone and internet service are often unreliable in the area. If you cannot reach the King Range NCA office, please contact the Arcata Field Office 707-296-4401 or email at: 


Wilderness Permits

In the King Range Wilderness, a permit quota system has been set up to protect the environment, ensure visitors a wilderness experience free of large crowds, and to provide opportunities for solitude. Permits are required year-round for overnight use in the King Range Wilderness and can be purchased on The quota system controls the number of permits that can be issued at one time.  Permits are not needed for day use in the King Range Wilderness.

New Permit Information as of October 1, 2023:

As of October 1, 2023, permits will be sold on a 3-month rolling window reservation system.  Each day, new permits will be available for dates 3-months in advance.  For example: on 10/1/23, permits will open for sale on 1/1/24; on 10/2/23, permits will open for sale on 1/2/24 and so on).  Each person may only reserve one permit at a time for up to three starts (people). The maximum group size is 15 people.   

Walk-up permits for 2 “starts” maximum will be sold daily at the King Range Visitor Center (1 permit for up to 2 people will be available each day) during open hours (Mon-Fri 8:00am-4:30pm). Weekend permits will be sold on Fridays.

A Special Recreation Permit (SRP) is required for organized and commercial groups and can be obtained thru the King Range Visitor Center (707) 986-5400.  Examples of organized groups are scouting troops, meet-up groups, classrooms, non-profits, church groups, etc. Commercial groups consist of businesses and universities, such as outfitters, trip guides, university activities club, and shuttle companies. The minimum fee for all organized/commercial groups is $130. Learn more about SRPs here.  No Special Recreation Permits will be issued for Memorial Day, Independence Day, or Labor Day weekends.

If you plan to hike the Lost Coast Trail, you must check tide levels to ensure your dates are passable- PRIOR to purchasing a permit.  On many dates during the year, tide levels make traversing the Lost Coast Trail impossible. See the 'Lost Coast Tide Safety Guide' and the 'Lost Coast Tide Safety Video' below.

For additional information and to purchase permits for the King Range Wilderness visit

Bear Canisters

Backpackers are required to carry one hard-sided bear resistant proof canister. Information on approved models is available online. The canisters must store of all food, trash, and toiletries for your trip. Backpackers failing to use canisters are subject to fines (43 CFR 8365.1-6). Note: These canisters are NOT bear spray or pepper spray.

Canisters are available for rent for $5.00 per canister per trip with a $75.00 credit card deposit. These canisters have a 600 cubic inch capacity (8" x 12"). Canisters may be returned to any of the following rental locations during business hours. King Range Visitor Center has a 24-hour drop box.

Canisters are available for rent at the following locations:

King Range Visitor Center
768 Shelter Cove Road, Whitethorn
Hours: Mon-Fri, 8:00 am to 4:30 pm

BLM Arcata Field Office
1695 Heindon Road, Arcata
Hours: Mon-Fri, 7:45 am to 4:30 pm

Petrolia General Store (5 miles from the Mattole trailhead)
40 Sherman Avenue, Petrolia
Hours: Mon-Sat, 9 am to 5 pm; Sun, 11 am to 4:30 pm
Note: Accepts cash only.

Other places that rent canisters (call for availability, hours, and pricing):

Shelter Cove General Store
7272 Shelter Cove Road, Shelter Cove

Humboldt State University's Center of Activities
1 Harpst Street, Arcata

Lost Coast Adventure Tours

Several outdoor gear stores rent canisters.  Availability, pricing, and canister styles vary per location.

Human Waste

The King Range Wilderness has no bathrooms or amenities. It is up to you to responsibly manage your human waste. Along the Lost Coast Trail, dig a 6-8” inch hole in wet sand in the intertidal zone. Go as close to the ocean as safely possible. Completely cover your deposit to maximize decomposition and to prevent unsightly encounters by other visitors. The ocean will breakdown the human waste upon the next high tide. Please remember to pack-out toilet paper and feminine hygiene products.

When you are on upland trails, go at least 70 steps from campsites, trails, and water.



The ecological diversity of the King Range National Conservation Area provides excellent wildlife watching opportunities. Along the Lost Coast Trail you will encounter northern elephant seals near the Punt Gorda Lighthouse. They may seem slow and sluggish at first glance but if they’re disturbed or agitated they can move very fast in a very short amount of time. Weighing 1,500 to 4,500 would make it easy for them to crush you.

Observe wildlife from a distance and do not follow or approach them. Use the “rule of thumb” by extending your arm out and holding your thumb up.  If your extended thumb is too small to block your view of an animal then you are too close. Stay at least 165 feet (50 meters) away. Dogs must be kept on leash when wildlife is present.

If you notice a sick or injured marine mammal that you think needs attention you can report it to the North Coast Marine Mammal Center at 707-951-4722. If the marine mammal is dead, please call the HSU Marine Mammal Stranding Hotline at 707-826-3650.

Mountain Biking

The Paradise Royale Mountain Bike Trail System provides a unique opportunity to experience lush temperate forests and spectacular ocean views along the Lost Coast. The entire trail system includes 24 miles of trails and a terrain park full of playful tabletops, tricky gap jumps, steep wall rides, and a challenging pump track.

Check out the MTB Project for a map and helpful tips on riding the Paradise Royale Mountain Bike Trail System.

Weather & Ocean Advisory

Download a Guide to Tide Safety

Winter storms & waves in the King Range National Conservation Area can make portions or all of the Lost Coast Trail dangerous and even impossible to traverse, regardless of tidal level. Additionally, heavy rains may cause downed trees or landslides along upland trails. Heavy rains may cause stream crossings to become hazardous and may impede travel. We at BLM recommend that you do not cross creeks that are above your knee. Be patient. Wait for water level to subside.

Please contact the King Range Visitor Center at (707) 986-5400 or Arcata Field Office (707) 825-2300 for updates on current conditions and check The National Weather Service for current coastal conditions.

Quick Facts

Congressional Designation
Created:  October 21, 1970
Size:  68,000 acres of public land


5/18/2024 - The BLM is implementing new fees for recreation sites in the King Range National Conservation Area on the North Coast, and for the Steiner Flat and Ohl Olsen campgrounds managed by the Redding Field Office, to improve access to public lands, enhance public health and safety, and better protect natural resources. Press Release.

Quick Links


Managers Reports

Flickr Album

King Range National Conservation Are


Contact Us

King Range National Conservation Area
PO Box 189
768 Shelter Cove Road
Whitethorn, CA 95589
Phone: 707-986-5400 

Bureau of Land Management
Arcata Field Office 

1695 Heindon Road 
Arcata, CA 95521-4573 2 
Phone: 707-825-2300