Highway 101 cuts right through the middle of a lot of campgrounds on the North Coast, but Benbow is the worst of these because here the highway is on an embankment above the campsites. That means the traffic noise is rather loud everywhere in the campground, and doesn’t really fall off as you get further from the freeway.
That said, the campground is otherwise very nice, and a lot of people don't seem to mind the traffic noise. The KOA campground just up the road gets just as much traffic noise, but at least in its online reviews, hardly anyone complains about the freeway.
The two halves of the campground have completely different settings.
The east side is a sunny, open oak grove; sites 39, 40, and 41 are on the Eel River, but you can’t actually see the river because of all the shrubs.
The west side is dense, shady woodland that’s more scenic but gets more traffic noise because the highway is banked toward it. The best part of the campground is the loop at the end of the road, especially sites 69, 70, and 72, which have some good-sized redwood trees.
Like most state park campgrounds, Benbow is laid out for tent camping. It does accept RVs up to 30 feet long, but there aren’t any hookups. If you have an RV or a trailer, take the Benbow Drive exit south of the campground, then drive north on Benbow Drive for 3 miles to reach the campground. Don’t take the Benbow exit, because a landslide on Benbow Drive has left an unpaved stretch where you have to drive up and over a somewhat steep little hill (visible on Google Street View).
© 2019 David Baselt