This 347-acre State Park, on the headlands between Highway One and the Pacific Ocean, surrounds the town of Mendocino. Sheer bluffs rise from a rocky shoreline, forming the park’s southern section. The historic Ford House (built in 1854) Visitor Center sits on the south side of Mendocino’s Main Street and it a great place to stop in before exploring the winding trails of this dramatic bluff top park. With spectacular, easy to navigate trail, and close ammenities, it's no wonder that the Mendocino Headlands Park is such a popular destination. Bring your binoculars beacuse whales can be spotted from shore throughout the year, espcially during the Grey Whale migration in the sping (February-April) and fall (September-December).
Mendocino was the first of several north coast towns founded between 1851 and 1920—the height of the lumber industry. German immigrant William Kasten was bound for the gold country in 1850 when his ship fortuitously ran aground off the Mendocino coast. In 1851 he filed papers claiming land he called “Port of Good Hope.” Those who built Mendocino’s Victorian buildings found their fortunes in the magnificent stands of coast redwoods. In 1854 Jerome B. Ford, superintendent of the first sawmill in Mendocino and founder of the town, built a home overlooking the Pacific for his bride. Today the Ford House Visitor Center exhibits tools, a scale model of 1890 Mendocino, Native American artifacts, and photographic images that interpret the town’s history. While Mendocino is known today for art galleries, shops, and inns, its well-tended Victorian architecture still conjures up a time when transportation was by horse, and each home had a water tower and an outhouse. The State acquired a portion of the headlands in 1957, and in 1974, through the support and advocacy of the local residents like artist Emmy Lou Packard, the land around the town became Mendocino Headlands State Park