A few years back we got a tiny taste of the world’s tallest trees in Northern California’s amazing Redwood National Park while driving the supremely scenic coastal route on our return trip from Oregon’s Crater Lake National Park.
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Truth be told, it’s been on our minds ever since.
So we finally bumped this trip to the top of the list and did something we rarely do…
Summer Road Trip!
Yep, we sucked it up and hit the road for 1,600 miles of prime time road travel during California’s most popular summer travel month of July and lived to tell.
With just over a month of trip planning and reservation making, we quickly discovered a few key things about peak season travel along highway 101 and pacific coast highway…
Everything is already booked and its hella’ expensive!
Motel rooms along the coast that normally go for $120 a night are averaging upwards of $250. Nicer properties are hovering around $350.
To complicate matters, traveling with our fur baby Odin significantly narrowed our lodging choices. Pet fees also seemed higher during summer.
We were super stoked to score a truly amazing and affordable AirBnB listing for our home base in Trinidad with no additional fees!
That’s right, no pet fee, no cleaning fee or deposit!! Just a simple request to take out your own trash, wash your dishes and strip the bed upon checkout.
If you end up staying with Karin nestled among the redwoods, say “Hi” for us!
And don’t mess this up. It’s a rare unicorn to find a listing with no extra fees.
quickie redwood national park and lost coast
road trip break down
- * 2 days of driving Highway 101 from Los Angeles to get to our AirBnB destination in Trinidad Bay with 1 overnight in Santa Rosa
- * 6 nights in Trinidad with awesome AirBnB Host in the redwoods
(all of our mileage notes are round trip from here)
- * 3 days of driving on Highway 1 to get Home with 1 overnight in Fort Bragg and 1 more overnight in Point Reyes
Day One: Los Angeles to Santa Rosa
Drive 500 miles on Highway 101 for 11 hours to Santa Rosa for an overnight stay at the pet friendly Best Western Garden Inn.
BONUS: Super close to Russian River Brewing Co.
Property was undergoing a very cool remodel and construction work began promptly at 9 am. It was noted on the website and could be why we got such a good room rate.
Best pet fees around and ample parking.
Order delicious pizza delivery from Mountain Mike’s cause we’re too tired to go out. Eat leftover pizza for breakfast or order from the on-site cafe.
Day Two: Russian River Brewing to AirBnB in Trinidad Bay, California
10:45 am, get in To-Go line at Russian River Brewing.
Pick up one 12 pack of Pliny the Elder and one 6 pack of Blind Pig (per person limit).
Make out with 3 cases of delicious, highly coveted beer between us.
Don’t forget the beer dolly!
Continue drive on Highway 101 for 250 miles over 6 hours to Trinidad Bay.
Stop for lunch in Leggett at the Peg House among the redwoods. Grab a photo with the awesome big yellow South Park monster truck.
Racer 5 brew on tap, good food and a pet friendly covered patio plus a pull thru parking lot with good parking for big vehicles.
Meet up with our amazing AirBnB host Karin and refrigerate BEERS immediately!
Traveling with the pup can drastically limit dining choices. We packed a lot of picnic lunches and ordered dinners to-go.
Fantastic burgers, prime rib on Sundays and mashed potatoes in a savory waffle cone from The Lighthouse Grill.
Possibly the best clam chowder we’ve ever had from Trinidad Bay Eatery.
On our way back into town each night we tried to call ahead to place our orders. Since cell service can be spotty we ordered in person and chatted up the locals while waiting.
In this tiny but popular beach town, grab meals earlier or later than the usual rush or chill and wait.
Day Three: Explore Trinidad Bay
Since this is Odin’s first road trip in the sidecar we started off exploring with an easy 5 minute ride to the Trinidad Memorial Lighthouse with a quick stop at the Beachcomber Cafe to pick up a couple of sandwiches for our hike down to the beach.
Just beyond the lighthouse is a steep dirt staircase leading down to the Old Home Beach (also called Indian Beach) filled with driftwood, sea stacks and hiking trails.
Just before you reach the sand the stairs disappear and you’re left with a series of logs held together with cables. This drops down a small cliff onto the beach like a tricky rope ladder on a fire escape.
Dogs are permitted at this beach and Odin did just fine finding his own way down the Indiana Jones ladder of doom.
After the beach, we found the road behind Salty’s Supply Company and took the Trinidad Scenic Drive around the bay and past the Cher-Ae Heights Casino. The locals tell us that this casino perched on a cliff high above the water has the best views around.
Keep an eye out for unusual characters at the scenic lookouts along the way. Our favorite sighting was the goat wrangler dressed as Jesus. Robes and all.
We actually smelled a goat cheesy fragrance before spotting the beast standing guard on the top of a hippie camper van overlooking the bay.
Day Four: Scenic Drive to Bigfoot Museum in Willow Creek and Mad River Brewing Co.
While in the Bigfoot capital of the world, we headed out on a 100 mile roundtrip ride looking for the big furry fella.
We found him at the China Flat Museum in Willow Creek off Scenic Highway 299. We also found restrooms and the Willow Creek Visitor’s Center a few steps away from the Museum.
After all, this is the town where the legend started and the first plaster cast of Biggie’s footprint was made back in 1958.
Lucky for us, this part of northern California is flush with top notch breweries. So of course a lunch stop at Mad River Brewing Company in Blue Lake with its dog friendly patio was in order.
Day Five: Slow Down and Explore Redwood National Park
Stop along the Highway 101 at the Palm Cafe in Orick to pick up a couple of turkey sammies. Take it to-go and enjoy a picnic lunch in Redwood National Park.
Remind yourself to slow down cause everything takes longer up here.
TIP: Email info@Redwoods.info and request a fantastic map of the Avenue of the Giants.
Stop at the Prairie Creek Visitor Center for Redwoods National Park merch and a stamp in your National Parks Passport. Then lunch it at the picnic tables outside.
80 miles roundtrip from Trinidad if you go all the way to the Klamath tree.
Bring cash for these kind of touristy spots along the way.
There are 3 different drive thru trees in the Redwood National Park area.
Day Six: BUCKET LIST!!! Lost Coast Scenic Drive and Humbolt Redwoods State Park
Lost Coast Scenic Drive, 175 mile loop. This ride took us all friggin’ day. If we weren’t so exhausted we would have gone right back there the next day and done it all over again!
The Lost Coast is considered by many to be a top notch bucket list ride, including National Geographic which named it one of the top 36 scenic rides in the entire US.
And its true! Happy cows do come from California. We found them living the good life along the beaches of the Lost Coast.
This dream ride starts in the victorian town of Ferndale by a metal archway for “Petrolia” and takes you through the largest portion of wild undeveloped coast in the United States.
Take Mattole Road following signs for the tiny town of Petrolia and stop for a drink at the Yellow Rose, a cool backwoods bar with friendly folks.
Then follow signs towards the other teeny town of Honeydew and mail a postcard from deep inside the Lost Coast at the Honeydew Post Office.
From here, you’ll cross a one lane bridge and begin your ascent along a steep windy road that leads into another valley stuffed full of giant redwoods.
Just when you think it can’t get any better you’ll find yourself exiting through the stunning Humbolt Redwoods State Park meeting up with the Avenue of the Giants.
Day Seven: Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, Gold Bluffs Beach and Fern Canyon
Sleep in to recover from the previous days’ lost coast adventure.
Take a leisurely ride north to Gold Bluffs Beach with a stop at the Thomas H. Kuchel visitor’s center to find out where the elk are hanging out today. 60 miles round-trip.
Bring your own stamps, buy postcards & give em’ to the Rangers to mail for a postmark from Redwood country.
Stop in Orick for an elk burger or ladybird sammich at Edebee’s Snack Shack and prepare to wait fer yer food! This is slow food country and both places we tried in Orick were super busy and averaged a 45 minute wait for the food to come out. So don’t plan to be in a hurry, it won’t help.
These flowers grew while we waited for our food but at least we had this beautiful photo op.
Take Davison Road (dirt road) just for the awesome stream crossings.
As a bonus you’ll be rewarded with a place so freaking prehistoric they used it in filming Jurassic Park.
Restrooms, parking and the trailhead for Fern Canyon at the end of Davison Road. No dogs allowed on the trails but okay on the beach.
Watch out for bossy elk during baby season, especially in July and heed Ranger warnings to stay away from these beasts protecting their new babes.
Day Eight: Highway 1 to Fort Bragg
Pack up and prepare for an upper body work out driving 158 miles south on Highway 1’s switchback-palooza with an estimated 475 turns just between Rockport and Fort Bragg.
Stop at Shoreline Cottages on the main drag in Fort Bragg for a pet friendly overnight stay with private patios, whirlpool tubs and the best bonfires in town. Don’t forget to refrigerate your Pliny the Elder!
Feeling lazy after a long twisty ride?
Order pizza delivered to your cottage and tell tall tales with the other guests around the fire pits in the coolest common area ever.
Day Nine: Highway 1 to Tomales Bay
On the road again! Drive south along Highway 1 for another 150 miles for an overnight stay on the water at the Tomales Bay Resort and Marina.
On the way into town, stop at the waterfront Marshall Store for a plate of bbq oysters fresh from the bay.
Head over to the original Cowgirl Creamery in Point Reyes Station and stock up on their bomb cheeses.
Time your arrival just right and totally squeeze in an amazing cheese tasting class for only 5 bucks! Make reservations though.
Learn how they make their cheeses and watch the cheese makers in action. Then taste all the glorious cheeses!
Just before sunset, grab a few chairs on the dock and mourn the last day of your trip by kicking up your feet and enjoying an icy Blind Pig with some of Cowgirl’s perfectly creamy Mt. Tam.
Day Ten: Highway 1 to Highway 101 to Los Angeles
Savor the beach town vibes and continue heading south on Highway 1 for 500 miles or until the summertime beach traffic becomes too much, then cut over to Highway 101.
Tree Hugger or City Lover
Visiting these big trees in the wild always makes us a little misty eyed for mountain living. Could you give up the perks of modern living in a massive metropolis like Los Angeles for the simple life? Tell us all about it!