Roadtripping: Dillon Beach, CA
In my last post, I wrote about finding a little gem of a beach when we were driving home from Tomales Bay, CA a little over a month ago. This past weekend was Memorial Day and we decided to make a trip back to the coast to explore here some more. The little town of Dillon Beach, CA is located at the mouth of Tomales Bay on the Sonoma Coast. Without traffic, it is almost exactly a four hour drive from Lake Tahoe. We packed up and left on Saturday morning and were at the campground by mid-day.
Lawson’s Landing is the only campground in this small town and is still family owned. There is definitely some work that needs to be done here (i.e. there are no bathrooms, only port-a-pottys), but I did read that there were upgrades in the works. Up until about a year ago, this campground housed many permanent trailers and there were no dedicated tent sites, just RVs. Since then, they have removed all the permanent trailers in an effort to clean it up and also opened up several walk-in tent sites.
Memorial Day weekend happens to be their busiest week of the year and for many families, it is an annual tradition. We were lucky that we booked our site well in advance (you can do this up to 10 weeks in advance), because every single site was taken. Having never been here before, we opted for a walk-in tent site (#316) that was furthest away from the road so our pups had a little more room. After about a gazillion trips back and forth from our site to the car unloading and loading, this was probably a bad decision in hindsight, but still nice to have the little extra privacy. If we get this site next time, we are definitely bringing a pull-cart. Our corner site backed-up to a nature preserve with some amazing views of the sand dunes and wildflowers.
Since it was our first trip here, we weren’t really sure what to expect other than it was a really popular campground for fishing, crabbing, and clamming. I could not believe all the visitors that were here for clamming! We heard from the tackle shop worker that it is because there happened to be an extremely low tide that exposed a huge clam bar. I couldn’t believe the size of some of the clams they were pulling out! Seriously, as big as your face!
We weren’t there for the clamming, but did try and catch a few Dungeness crabs. We didn’t have much luck from the beach, but managed to catch a couple from the pier. Brian pulled in two monsters that got away, and one smaller one that lived to see another day. We will definitely be back to try and get more from the pier next time.
Other than that, our days were spent beach-combing, playing with the pups, visiting with Brian’s folks who came down for a night, and cooking some awesome meals in the dutch oven. Check out these recipes for beef stew and peach and berry cobbler. They are probably the best camping meals I have ever had.
Packing up Tuesday morning was bittersweet and I definitely can’t wait to go back. A few things I learned for our next trip:
- Bring gear for clamming. It is the thing to do here and looked pretty fun.
- Fish for crab from the pier, not the beach, but make sure to check that they are in-season first. They only run from November to July.
- The walk-in tent sites are nice, but it is kind of a pain to go back and forth to your car. Consider one closer to the road or get an RV site and just plop your tent on it.
- You want your site to be closer to the pier/tackle shop if you plan to do any fishing, crabbing, or clamming. Some of the sites are really far away.
- It gets WINDY! We lost our pop-up canopy to a windstorm. Make sure you tie everything down good, like really, really, good.
- Don’t expect to use a real bathroom during your time here. Embrace the port-a-potty; bring hand sanitizer and wet wipes.
- If you are staying in one of the tent sites, there are frogs EVERYWHERE. Make sure to keep everything zipped and closed up so they don’t get into anything they shouldn’t.
Has anyone else been to Lawson’s Landing? What is your favorite thing to do there?