Northcoast & The Giant Redwoods
Walking among giants and savoring sparkling vintages
Embark on a great odyssey to a land of lighthouses, vineyards and gargantuan trees that cars can drive through. In this mystical land, you'll discover sunsets that are unlike anywhere else in the world, coastal highways that beckon you to drive just one more mile and towns that have preserved their history and are waiting for you to discover it. Your next great adventure begins now in the region known as the North Coast of California.
Oh, if these trees could talk, they would have stories that date back to the origins of Christianity. Standing as centurions over California's North Coast, these ancient organisms watch and guard as generation after generations come to marvel at their size. The giant redwoods that stand 300 feet tall and are more than 20 feet in diameter are some of the biggest trees in the world and date back 2,000 years or more.
You can start your tour of the giant redwoods in Humboldt County on the Avenue of the Giants. Old Highway 101 takes drivers on 31 miles of majestic beauty into the Humboldt Redwood State Park that has the last stand of virgin redwoods in the world. While you're at the Humboldt Redwood State Park, you can take advantage of a dozen or so hiking trails that lead you through the ancient hush of the forest. Make sure to set aside some time to visit the various memorial groves located along the trails.
How cool do you think it would be to drive through a giant redwood? Well there are only three giants remaining in California that you can take a car through (you might lose your AC unit if you try to take the RV). They're all privately owned and do charge for the novelty, but you'll want to do it anyway. The closest to Humboldt is the Shrine Drive-Thru Tree at Myers Flat. It's located just four miles south of the Humboldt Redwood State Park Visitors Center.
Get ready to see more redwoods at the next park, located at the junction of U.S. Route 101 and Coastal Highway 1. Here you'll find the Drive-Thru Chandelier Tree Park. Inside the park you'll find a giant redwood shaped like an ornate chandelier. And the third drive-through tree is located in the Redwoods National and State Park in Del Norte County, where the redwoods meet the sea.
Del Norte County has two historic lighthouses. One sits 144 feet above the sea at St. George's Reef. The light was first lit in 1892 and re-lit in 2012. Unfortunately, there are currently no tours of this light.
The next lighthouse you'll want to check out is the Battery Point Lighthouse, which you can see from Crescent City. This little light that could is built in a Cape Cod style with the light tower protruding from the center of the dwelling. The Battery Point Lighthouse lived through the Tsunami of 1964, losing only a few panes of glass from three windows. Today, you can visit the Battery Point Lighthouse and Museum. The light still guards the coast near Crescent City as a private navigational aid.
You'll want to make sure you have your camera handy because six more lighthouses dot the North Coast, each with a distinctive design, and you'll want to see them all.
After visiting the lights near Crescent City, travel down highway 101 and visit the Trinidad Lighthouse, the Humboldt Harbor Lighthouse and the Punta Gorda Light. The final three are the Cape Mendocino Lighthouse, Point Cabrillo Lighthouse and the Point Arena Lighthouse. Most are open for public tours and have museums associated with them. These structures truly are postcard-worthy sights.
After you've filled your camera with the beautiful sights of the redwoods and the coastal areas, it will be time to kick back and relax with a nice glass of wine or two and the best place to find some is in Sonoma County.
Sonoma is the southern-most county along the North Coast and is known for fine vintages. Sonoma County has over 60,000 acres of vineyards with 370 wineries and 15 American viticultural areas. There are 23 varietals of grapes grown and wine produced in Sonoma including Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Riesling and Zinfandel. It's no surprise that many wine aficionados have labeled Sonoma County as the No. 1 wine destination in the United States.
Take in a little History
There are many small towns along the North Coast that have a story to tell. For instance, visitors to Glen Ellen can stop by the Jack London State Park, which is where the writer of White Fang and other notable titles lived until his death in the early 1900s. The park once housed London's Beauty Ranch. The cottage that he and his wife lived in is still on the park grounds.
In a small town called Willits you'll find the Roots of Motive Power in the Mendocino County Museum. This exhibit houses railroad artifacts and steam-powered equipment, illustrating the diverse history of the Northern California redwood industry.
Also in Willits is the Seabiscuit Heritage Foundation, an organization formed to promote Ridgewood Ranch at the home and final resting place of the legendary racehorse Seabiscuit.
Be sure to set aside time to explore all the little towns that make the North Coast interesting and fun.
For More Information:
North Coast Tourism Council
California Travel and Tourism Commission
Ancient Redwoods RV Park
Pomo RV Park & Campground