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.
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: BLM_CA_WEB_KR@blm.gov
Permits are required for overnight use within the King Range Wilderness. Visitors can book their permit reservations on www.recreation.gov. Permits are not required for day-use or in drive-up campground facilities. King Range Wilderness Permits for 2023 will become available after October 1, 2022. As of 2022 the number of permits any one individual can book will be 3. The max group size will remain at 15, so a max group of 15 people would need 5 permit holders.
An additional Special Recreation Permit is required for commercial and organized groups. Examples of organized groups are scout troops, social media groups, schools, and universities. Permits must be submitted at least 30 days before your trip. The minimum fee for any commercial or organized group is $115, plus any fees due in excess of the minimum fee. Please contact the King Range Visitor Center to request a Special Recreation Permit application.
No Special Recreation Permits for commercial or organized groups will be issued for Memorial Day, Independence Day or Labor Day weekends. Although overnight camping permits are available year-round, weekends (especially holiday weekends) are busy times to visit the area. Please check availability for opportunities to visit this summer. Visitors are also encouraged to day hike, which does not require a permit.
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.
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.
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.