The drive from Central California over to the Northern California Coast was not for the faint of heart, driving a 40 foot motorhome. But, it was worth the visit to see the legendary redwood trees of Northern California. The roads were hilly and curvy, and although Highway 101 is commonly driven by RV’ers, I think I can confidently assert that next time we will leave the RV behind.
That being said, we survived, and came upon a lovely little campground called Klamath River RV Park, which had barely opened for the season, and it was a gem. We didn’t pay for the “river view”, but fortunately no one was between our “wooded” spot and the river, so we still had a river view anyway. The only real bummer was that there was zero AT&T service and the nearest service was a 30 minute drive through steep and foggy roads.
We just couldn’t resist, as gimmicky as it seemed, so we paid the $5 “donation” to drive the car up a short hill to the “Tour-Thru Tree” in Klamath. Being off season, and about 6 in the evening, we were the only ones there, which worked to our advantage. After practically scraping up our side mirrors driving through this crazy thing, we parked the car and got out to walk through the tree as well.
Flint Picnic Area
Right down the road from our campground was a short 2.5 mile drive. Flint Picnic Area was located down a steep, twisty gravel road, which had picnic benches and a gorgeous coastal viewpoint. The view was spectacular, and interestingly enough, we discovered that our AT&T phones actually got service on this small remote cliff.
But the most exciting part of this little jaunt was the ride home. We were driving back to the campsite around dusk. Suddenly, on our left side, a black bear cub lifted his head out of the bushes, looked at us, and then put his head back down again. It was so close, and luckily we were in the car! We had traveled through both Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks previous to this point, figuring we’d have seen a bear close up by now, in its natural environment, and where did we finally see one? Redwood National Park!!!
Klamath River Overlook
We also took another steep, twisty gravel road to the Klamath River Overlook, which had even better views than Flint Point. The viewpoint was where the Pacific Ocean meets the Klamath River. Whales can sometimes be seen from this area, as they make their way North. This was one of our favorite shots:
Fun and slightly tacky, but worth it especially if you are traveling with kids. It was definitely more entertaining than just walking through a grove of Redwood Trees. There were some trees from Ripley’s Believe it or Not, a cathedral tree where actual weddings take place, and some cool wood carvings.
The Brotherhood Tree:
The highlight of our time there was a 7 minute Sky Trail ride up among the Redwoods to a viewing deck that spans the forest and Pacific Ocean.
Don’t let anyone tell you that you can just hike back down, especially the evil man trying to sell you the tickets. Once we got to the top, the signs warned of the steep, dangerous descent meant only for experienced hikers. I had no choice but to suck it up for the returning ride. The boys thoroughly enjoyed it.
Here we are ascending the Sky Trail tramway:
I tried to mostly distract myself by “faking” scared faces with the boys. That was the looooongest 7 minutes of my life! I do actually look horrified, don’t I?
Not sure what happened, but I failed to get a picture from the top. Probably because I was so preoccupied with the fact that we had to turn around and go back down that tram.
If that doesn’t sound appealing, make sure to at least stop by the free Native American Museum attached to the gift shop. The collection of artifacts was so impressive, far more extensive a collection than I’ve ever seen. Even the boys, who were tired and hungry by the end of our experience, perked up and showed interest in some of the displays here. Excellent Museum!
Crescent City: Ocean Museum
Cool little (and I mean, little) coastal aquarium. I must admit that Chicago’s great museums make others hard to live up to, so I wasn’t really blown away by this one. It was overpriced, in my opinion, for a 45 minute guided tour, with 3 main attractions. There was a tide pool area, where we were able to touch starfish and sea anemones.
Then we were led to a fish exhibit and given some interesting tidbits about sea life of the local area. Next we were led to a small pool with a few small sharks that we could “pet.” This was my 6 year old’s favorite part of course. My 8 year old was not crazy enough to touch a shark. Finally, there was a very entertaining seal and sea lion show, which was well done.
Battery Point Lighthouse – Crescent City
What first intrigued me most about visiting this lighthouse was that we could only cross the rocky path during low tide. Built in 1853, and still standing in most of its original form with 18 inch thick walls, this was a very interesting place to tour. Strictly run by volunteers, the tour was informative and entertaining. The highlight was getting to climb up the winding stairs and then up the ladder into the tiny lighthouse itself. The views were awesome! They provided binoculars.
Walking the path during low tide:
The view from the upstairs “haunted” bedroom. I SO want this view (minus the ghost):
Stout Grove – Jedediah State Park
I am very glad that I stopped at the Crescent City Visitor Center for recommendations, because Stout Grove was worth the strenuous drive down a 4 mile gravel, 1 lane road with 2 way traffic, full of huge potholes! Allow time, because you must take this road slowly, and you will want to, as you gape at the massive redwoods.
Once you finally arrive at the Grove, there are two .2 mile trails that loop around. It is an easy walk, but you will feel like you have entered prehistoric times. The Redwood Groves are so peaceful and otherworldly. And if you are a Star Wars fan, Return of the Jedi was filmed there, so you must visit!
This area was probably one of my very favorites of our travels for me. It was such a unique area, and walking through the Redwoods also possessed the silent majesty I felt at Yosemite.
So many awesome and unique places in one state. This was the last of our stops in California and why we have fallen in love with this state!