Giant trees just some of sights on scenic 101
Getting there is half the fun, they say, and one great example of that is the trip to or from Humboldt County and its largest city, Eureka. The home of some of California’s most scenic wilderness, Humboldt County can be reached by going north on Highway 101 through a redwood forests, lush rolling hills and historic towns that each beckon the traveler to spend just a little more time along the way exploring.
We found that the coastal village of Mendocino, on Highway 1, is a great starting point, and well worth a night or two in one of the charming inns that take advantage of the area’s natural beauty. Perched on a bluff overlooking the churning Pacific Ocean, Mendocino is so picturesque it was used as a stand-in for Cabot’s Cove, the fictional New England fishing village in the television show Murder She Wrote. Fine restaurants and eclectic shops are found in some of the town’s historic buildings. Artisans can’t resist the town and many have wound up living there and opening local art galleries because of its unsurpassed natural beauty.
Fort Bragg is a little more typical California beach town which you’ll find along Highway 1, just a few miles north from Mendocino. From there take Highway 20 east and you’re in for a slow but scenic drive on a curvy road through the coastal mountains. In an hour or so you arrive at Willits, a frontier town with a colorful history and a picture-perfect setting among the rolling hills just east of the coastal mountains.
If you just want to pop over to Willits and leave the driving to a railroad engineer, you can take the famous “Skunk Train” from Fort Bragg to Willits. It’s the same redwood forests you would see driving Highway 20, but there’s just something a little more adventurous about riding the rails in a historic steam train.
While in Willits, be sure to stop by the Mendocino County Museum, which puts everything in historical perspective. It has one of the finest collections of Pomo and
Photos courtesy National Park Service ACROSS THE TOP: One of the endless vistas at Redwood National Park. TOP PHOTO: Kayakers on a ranger-led excursion down the Smith River. BOTTOM LEFT PHOTO: The polyphemus moth found at Redwood National Park belongs to the family of giant silk moths. BOTTOM RIGHT PHOTO: A rough-skinned newt.