Part three of our Seattle to San Diego journey traces U.S. 101 from the broad beaches of southern Oregon into California's remote Humboldt County en route to the windswept headlands of Mendocino.
We finally pick up California Highway 1, that iconic coastal road, for winding narrowly among redwoods, curving past small villages, and skirting panoramic (and gasp-inspiring) Pacific Ocean vistas.See leg one, Seattle to Cannon Beach, here, and leg two, Cannon Beach to Gold Beach, Oregon, here.
Mile 22: Instagram Alley: Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor
Grab your coffee and charge your phone—for photos. This 12-mile stretch of wild park (pictured, above) hugs the water and delivers views of hidden coves, sea stacks, rock arches, and 300-year-old Sitka spruce trees. Pull over for a walk along a stretch of the Oregon Coast Trail, 27 miles of which weave through the park.
Mile 144: Kayaks and Culture: Eureka
Dally in this former seaport and lumber town. Scout for whales with Humboats Kayak Adventures, stroll the boardwalk overlooking Humboldt Bay, have lunch at historic Samoa Cookhouse, and tuck in for the night at Carter House Inns' (pictured) elegantly restored Victorians. (Rates start at $193.)
Mile 192: Redwood Mania: Humboldt Redwoods State Park
Take your sweet time along Avenue of the Giants, enjoying the natural splendor and old-time tourist stops. Pull over for a number of easy loop trails to stretch your legs (and blow your mind), including Founder's Grove Nature Loop and the Rockefeller Loop.
Related: The Cheapest Places to Travel Each Month of the Year:
Mile 267: Sleep on a Ranch: Fort Bragg
The only reason to leave the redwood groves is for the Inn at Newport Ranch (pictured), a stunning oceanfront lodge (with its own redwood pillars) on a working coastal cattle ranch, with 20 miles of hiking and riding trails, and views for days. (Rates start at $307.)
Mile 288: Eat, Drink, Shop: Mendocino
Wind up the journey in one of the North Coast's most beguiling towns. Discover downtown treasures including the Kelley House Museum and Gallery Bookshop. Get the fish-and-chips for lunch at Patterson's Pub and a scoop of Cowlick's handmade ice cream at Frankie's. Call in sick for Monday.
Detour Worth Taking
It's a classic, and deservedly so. Take a hypnotic ride on the Skunk Train, which runs a historic logging route from Fort Bragg to timber camps along the Noyo River (complete with a bar serving Mendocino County wines). Trips run one hour or four hours.
Roadtrip by the Numbers
288 miles driven
160k ACRES of Redwoods in Humboldt County
6 The tallest Redwood is 6 stories taller than the Statue of Liberty
70% of California’s oysters originate in Humboldt Bay
3,800 WINES on the list at Carter House Inns’ Restaurant 301