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Lake Mendocino - Camping at Bu-Shay Campground

Updated on July 17, 2017

This is my favorite of the three campgrounds on Lake Mendocino that is near Ukiah, California. Unfortunately, it is currently closed indefinitely. However, the nearby campground called Kyen Campground is still open to the public.

Where is Bu-Shay Campground?

Located on the Eastern side of Lake Mendocino, Camp Bu-Shay is a one of the three major campgrounds operated by the Army Corp of Engineer at the lake. Just 2 hours north of San Francisco and one hour from Napa, Lake Mendocino is about fifteen minutes to the East of Ukiah, the nearest major city, and about a thirty minute drive to the Hopland wineries that offer tastings to Mendocino County travelers. This 1,822 acre forested land and waterway is available to boaters, anglers, campers, hikers, swimmers and day users.

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Things to Do At Lake Mendocino

This side of the lake offers recreational choices from waterways to nature hikes to shoreline play:

  • accessible beach areas (parking is nearby)
  • trails of approximately 2 and 5 miles in length
  • swimming (shallow waters are available in summer)
  • fishing (due to the quiet nature of this side of the lake, it is more ideal for bank fishing than the other side of the lake)
  • camping (flush and vault toilets, showers at some bathrooms)
  • manzanita and pine forest habitats for wildlife viewing
  • a 7 mile trail to the dam, offering a scenic view of the lake
  • the Mesa Day Use Area, for picnics and barbecues (grills and electric hook ups are on site)
  • a playground for the younger travelers (near the Kaweyo Trailhead)
  • a payphone (how novel!)
  • an amphitheater (for special events)


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Lake Mendocino Fishing Information

There are a variety of choices in fish at the lake:

  • bass
  • crappie
  • catfish
  • blue gill
  • perch
  • sunfish

Bait shops are located about ten minutes outside the campgrounds, as are sources for wood. There is no campground or bait shop located at the campgrounds. Stores are available in Calpella or in Ukiah, when travelers take Highway 20 West to Highway 101 South (toward Ukiah).

This playground is located near a trail leading to a rocky beach in Bu-Shay Campground.  Water shoes are recommended at this beach.
This playground is located near a trail leading to a rocky beach in Bu-Shay Campground. Water shoes are recommended at this beach. | Source

"Caca Island"

A special note to boaters: There is one island in the middle of the lake the locals call "Caca Island" where the boaters go to take the dogs for a bathroom break. Boaters will know they have reached that island when landing on the shores. A small island, it is not managed by the Army Corp of Engineers and the remaining waste of prior visiting dogs are left to bake in the sun. It is certainly not suitable to camp there!

Dogs at Lake Mendocino

Lake Mendocino is a dog-friendly location, with a pet policy of dogs-on-leash. While campers may find dogs off leash, camp hosts do take those occurrences as serious issues and will contact dog owners immediately if they fail to keep dogs on leash, particularly at waterways. Dogs are not allowed at the specific swim beaches. However, dogs are allowed at non-swim beaches (where many people are still able to swim) and at the boat launch sites, as they often join owners aboard vessels.

Lake Mendocino Is Located Off Highway 20, Near Highway 101

Food stowage is important so that small creatures, like this squirrel, or larger ones, such as raccoons, will not disturb the campground.  Dumpsters are available at Camp Bu-Shay.
Food stowage is important so that small creatures, like this squirrel, or larger ones, such as raccoons, will not disturb the campground. Dumpsters are available at Camp Bu-Shay. | Source

The Quiet Side of Lake Mendocino

Camping at Bu-Shay offers campers a quieter experience than that at the other side of the lake. Because of the quieter nature at the location, there is much more wildlife available to view. On our recent visit, we saw a family of deer and two rabbits hopping through the brush in the morning hours. A variety of birds reside in the canopy of trees that allow ample shade over campgrounds in summer.

Gates open at 7:30am and close at 10pm. Bu-Shay Campground can be closed in winter, depending upon the severity of weather conditions.

More in Mendocino County and Nearby Areas

Learn more about this area where the Redwood Forest meets the grasslands and wine country of Mendocino County:

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