A road trip filled with memories and amazing locations. This trip takes you up from the bay area (see my trip around the bay if you want something more specific to the bay) up around northern California and then to Crater Lake, Oregon and back down to the bay. You’ll see amazing redwood trees that you won’t believe when you’re in their presence. A lake that is the deepest in the United States, not to mention one of the bluest! Ending with a waterfall trip to remember and back down home. You won’t want to miss this one!
Top 5 Things To Do
- Glass Beach
- Avenue of the Giants
- Fern Canyon
- Crater Lake
- Burney Falls
Glass Beach: One of the first locations you will get to on your trail is going to be a must to stop at. See what nature does with human being garbage! No matter what, it always finds a way to make something beautiful! A great location to not only stop and see these glass rocks, but also just a great view of the pacific ocean and the cliffs that are always stunning in Northern California.
Avenue of the Giants: A thirty mile drive that will take you a bit longer than expected! The Avenue has some of the largest trees that you will ever see! Stop at the initial turn off and get a map that will help guide you through the main stops to make on your drive. The drive itself will leave you breathless as you drive through this area. Small towns to stop at along the way if you choose, but at our favorite stop to make on the tour of the avenue was definitely Founders Grove. You’ll truly see how amazing this earth can be as you stare up at a giant redwood or walk across one of the many that have fallen to the earth.
Fern Canyon: A little bit of a drive through some very small roads will take you to an absolutely stunning area. See why they chose this location as a perfect place to film a scene from Jurassic Park II. It’s a small hike in after the drive into the forest, but well worth the small hike. Walking through the canyon and jumping across the creek to see the ferns growing all the way to the top is such an amazing sight to see. You’ll feel one with nature after this side trip!
Crater Lake: A beautiful national park that will be added to your favorites list for sure. Staring into the lake from the many overlooks on Rim drive, you will want to stop often. The deepest lake in the United States and 9th in the world. The blue lake that only holds water from snow melt and rainfall is an instant classic. A day or two is plenty of see many things in the park, but this lake will last in your memory long after this trip.
Burney Falls: The 8th wonder of the world will have you captivated from the moment you arrive. A small fee into the park and a baby hike down to it will get you all the glory of this 129 foot waterfall. Take some time to stare up at this beauty and love every moment of it! There will be plenty of waterfalls to visit in the area, but this will surely be one of your favorites you see in the entire state of California.
- Princess Seafood Company
- Glass Beach
- Noyo Harbor Inn Restaurant
- North Coast Brewing Company
Princess Seafood Company: Traveling from the Bay Area out to Fort Bragg took us around 4 hours. The town of Fort Bragg for the most part is situated on one Main Street for the downtown. Off the strip as you are first coming into town, there will be a turnoff for the harbor area. If you’re in the mood for a little seafood, I would highly recommend stopping at Princess Seafood. They have both an outdoor seating area, and a small deli section if you wish to get food to go. We ordered some poke, fresh oysters and a crab roll. They were all delicious. They have a wide variety of food and several types of drinks including a beer that North Coast made specifically for their restaurant. There is also a wonderful fire pit area to sit next to if it’s a bit chilly in the day you’re visiting. A great first stop to take as I’m sure you’ll be hungry after the long drive!
Glass Beach: Our next stop was to the famous glass beach. Written about in plenty of travel magazines, you’ll have to stop in and see what Mother Nature does to human trash! The town of Fort Bragg used to dump trash along the area early on. What the sea did was take the glass bottles and smooth them out into beautiful rock like items. If you get there on a perfect sunrise or sunset, you’ll get a perfect view of the various colored rocks glistening in the sun. There were plenty of people at the location when we went and it was a bit overcast. It didn’t stop people from posing and taking many photos along the beach. The rocks aren’t as plentiful anymore as there have been many people over the years taking them home. Please take with you, only what you came with like any other time you visit nature. Take the trails around the area and you can get some wonderful views of the ocean and the sharp cliffs. You may even see some sea otters playing and feeding around the floating kelp!
Noyo Harbor Inn Restaurant: After spending the day at glass beach, we stopped in for dinner again around the harbor. The Noyo Harbor inn is a nice hotel to stay at if you are looking for a place to stay still. We came as there was a nice dining area with a great view of the harbor. The outside dining area is nice and it seemed that there were plenty of locals that felt like this was the place to eat. It’s a nicer dining experience and they have a wide variety on their menu along with some great seafood.
North Coast Brewing Company: The final stop on our first day was at North Coast. If you’re a craft beer fan, it’s one of my favorites. They have many favorites that you’ll find most places in California. They make the scrimshaw Pilsner, Old Rasputin, Old stock and many more. The outdoor area is extremely large and a wonderful place to have drinks to end the night. They do have some good food also if you are still in the mood for something to eat. I chose a fight of beer so that I could taste some of their beers that I normally don’t find in the Bay Area. They have many delicious choices and there is also a pretty massive gift shop across the street if you are looking to take some souvenirs home. After a few too many drinks, we headed back to our hotel for the evening as we still had a long way to go on our road trip.
- Headlands Coffeehouse
- Leggett Drive Thru Tree
- Richardson Grove State Park
- Eel River
- Lookout point loop
Headlands Coffeehouse: Leaving Fort Bragg we stopped at a small coffeehouse that was open. A very local coffeehouse as we saw when we ordered. They only take cash so make sure you have some on you. We ordered coffees and breakfast sandwiches. It was a nice meal to start our day and we enjoyed the very friendly service.
Leggett Drive Thru Tree: Starting out early, we made our way up to Leggett for one of the famous drive thru trees. An extremely small city, Leggett was quick drive through. We had always wanted to drive through a tree and there was a privately owned area with one. I believe there are only three drive thru trees left in this area. As we went through the line like going through an amusement park, it was an interesting experience. Every car drove through, stopped to take a photo of their car going through and then moved on out. Other than a tiny gift shop and a restroom, there wasn’t much else to do. Either way it was kind of cool to drive through a tree. It partly felt like we were going through a car wash. We had to push our mirrors in or we wouldn’t have made it through without a scratch.
Richardson Grove State Park: The park is right outside of Garberville. A beautiful state park that had some extremely large trees! We rented a site and pitched our tent. The prices are fairly cheap for a campsite and only 77 a night if you would prefer to have a small cabin. The place was very well kept and we also found a great spot across the street to sit by the Eel River. You could see that plenty of families take advantage of the area. They were out swimming and we could hear Marco Polo in the distance. It was perfect weather and the temperature of the water was great. We sat by the water for a bit and then headed back to our camp. As we walked through, we felt so small as we came across so many large redwoods. There are various trails that you can take in the park. I would recommend trying out a trail for the day and just enjoying your experience in the middle of the redwoods. We thought it was well worth it to spend the rest of the day taking some trails in the area before heading back to camp for the night. Making our fire, we cooked our dinner over the fire and enjoyed our evening staring up at the wonderful trees surrounding us.
- Avenue of the Giants
- Redwood Curtain Brewing Company
- Downtown Arcata
- Patrick’s Point State Park
- Sumeg Village
- Wedding Rock
- Fern Canyon
- Seaquake Brewing Company
Started out nice and early at the camp site. Had our morning coffee with a quick fire to warm our bodies. It wasn’t before long and we were on the road again. First stop was for breakfast. There was a little place in Garberville that looked attractive and the reviews were good, sad thing for some reason they were closed. We settled for a diner in town that filled our bellies, but lacked in taste. I received a do it yourself lox sandwich that looked like the salmon had been frozen until it hit the plate. My partner very mediocre pancakes. The people were friendly and it looked like a nice little town, but we headed out to our next stop of the avenue of the giants.
Avenue of the Giants: The avenue can be missed fairly easy, it’s just an offshoot of the 101 on state road 254. There are plenty of signs, but I can see how you could miss it. The route on the south entrance allows you to grab a map of top locations to visit with descriptions of their importance. You can pick it up, but we somewhat made our own stops along the way. I’ve always had a fascination with the redwoods. To look up at these behemoths is to stare into the eyes of Mother Nature. They simple dwarf he human race and serve as a reminder that they were here before us, and more than likely after us. The total avenue stretches over 30 miles and goes from town to town. Driving the roads and looking up is often mystifying. There are several places to stop along the way, but if you have to make one, I would recommend Founders grove. The sign is a little hidden towards the end, but is noted on the map. A small turnoff and it’s a very easy hike from the parking lot. As you walk through the grove you get captivated quickly as you stroll through the land of giants. You’ll see massive trees that have fallen. Trunks with roots that make a semi feel small. At the end of the trail you even see a tree that has been pretty torn apart, it almost looks like mother nature’s lumber yard. Well worth the stop and doesn’t take too much of your day. As you make your way to the end, it meets right back up with 101 N.
Redwood Curtain Brewing Company: Our next stop was Eureka. A larger town for Northern California, it is right on the coast. We were originally going for Lost Coast brewing as a good stop for lunch, but found they were also closed for the day. As we looked for another brewery, we came across a brewery in Arcata called Redwood Curtain brewing company. A brewery in an office type district, we didn’t expect much even after A LOT of fantastic reviews. When we first entered, we were surprised at how large the brewery actually was! We spoke to a very kind lady at the bar and ordered a flight and my partner a sour. The beers were really good. Some great Belgian ales, but also many others to choose from. The food truck was also delicious. Fish and chips made with rockfish and a couple of versions of oysters had us craving for more! We spoke to the lady and found that there was a small festival in town. An oystefest that actually gets quite large normally. Being that we were just coming out of COVID, it was a bit smaller than normal. We decided to stop in and have a look.
Downtown Arcata: The downtown area of Arcata is nowhere near large. A circular surrounding business area, with a little town gathering area in the middle. We pulled up and it looked like the entire town was gathered together. A smorgasbord of farmers all bringing their favorite dishes to market. People selling oysters, fresh veggies, cheeses, and many more items. Walking through the area, you felt a sense of normalcy. Watching parents with their little kids and people just having conversations was great. We got some fresh cheese from a local woman and it was outstanding. Made from goat milk, the cheese was soft and melted in your mouth. We definitely could have stayed longer, but we knew we had more to see for the day.
Patrick’s Point State Park: Making our way out of town, we next came to Patrick’s point state park. The park was nestled into the coastline and had a lot to see. A small fee of 8 dollars at the entrance. We came to an old Indian settlement. It was pretty cool to see how they used to live. Small huts that were built partially into the ground. Even smaller holes as entrances were used as a form of defense. Large enough for humans to push through, they were great to keep bears out as they were too small for them to fit through. Various buildings can be explored and you should take the time to read through he information on them. It was a great stop to see and very educational. There are also other points in interest in this park including many places to view the ocean. We stopped off to see wedding rock. A sharp rock that you can walk out to and see a bit more of the ocean.
Fern Canyon: Traveling along, we then came into what was considered redwood national park. The drive through was great and we were greeted by some elk in a small area next to the road. We stopped off and took some pictures of the elk as they congregated. These elk were once on the verge of extinction before the park took over and they have started to come back in numbers. The elk weren’t the main attraction we came to see though. We were interested in a small trail nestled back in the park called fern canyon. A very short walk from the parking lot brings you down a stream and into a canyon that is lined with ferns. If you have seen Jurassic park 2, you’ll probably recognize it as the area that they run down after being chased by small dinosaurs. The area was so cool to walk through and we couldn’t stop taking photos as it was so hard to not try and capture the beauty of the place. The drive back might be a little unnerving for some as they are winding roads and at times very narrow for two cars to get through at the same time, but well worth the agony!
Seaquake Brewing Company: Our stop for the night was in Crescent city. The last larger city before crossing the border into Oregon. It’s a small city in comparison to many others in California, but cute. There’s a harbor, lighthouse and some other forms of tourist attractions. It was getting late for us so the final stop for the night was for diner at Seaquake brewing company. After a very large wait. We sat down at a table finally. The food was good. I had the fish, while my wife had a chicken and rice bowl. Very hefty portions, but was overall good food. The restaurant actually has the best reviews on yelp for a place to eat in town. The beer was kind of mediocre though. We much preferred the brewery in Árcata to fill up our growler. We made our way back for the night and got to bed early as our trip for the morning would be long heading across the border to Oregon and Crater Lake national park.
- Mazama Campground
- Rim Drive
- Vidae Falls
- Phantom Ship Overlook
- Cloudcap Overlook
- Watchman Overlook
- Rim Village
- Watchman’s Peak sunset
Lighthouse: The day again started early as I wanted to see what the lighthouse looked like in the early morning in Crescent city. I wasn’t disappointed as I walked out to the small island that housed the lighthouse. It had been owned multiple times, but still cool to walk the small island. Old whale bones that gathered on the shore were displayed in the gardens. Across from the lighthouse, you can walk the jetty point during calm seas. A little jaunt out takes you to a cool area that almost looks like a cementary for old sea anchors. The massive anchors are gathered in groups all at the end for you to see. They are kind of neat to walk through.
We got on the road and started to head out towards Oregon. It is almost a four hour trip over to Crater Lake from crescent city. The roads in Oregon are great to drive on and very easy to navigate. We made our way through several towns and you could stop for wine at plenty of wineries as you make your way across. We chose to head straight for crater lake as this was the main destination that we had been wanting to see. We took the windy roads up and it was a fairly simple drive. Much easier to drive than a trip to Yosemite!
Mazama Campground: When we got to crater lake, we stopped and pitched our tent at Mazama campgrounds. A pretty large campground in the actual park. You’ve got options to stay around the park in neighboring cities or either camp out or the beautiful lodge that overlooks crater lake. If you made reservations, more than likely they won’t have your exact campsite until after noon. Drive off to explore the park and come back to the gift shop to see your location later on. The overall camp area was clean and they do have a small restaurant to grab fast food and also a grocery store in case you forgot something along the way.
Rim Drive: I would recommend the first thing to do is to drive the rim drive. We went from East to west around it and it was such a mesmoring drive. Follow the map around the lake and it’s a pretty simple tour. Points of interest that we would recommend stopping at would be: Vidae falls, cloud line overlook, watchmans overlook and the village itself. The lake itself is stunning. The natural blue water is something that is hard to describe when you first see it. The lake has no rivers going into it so the water is only from snow melt and rain water. Which makes the lake almost free from any type of sediment. It’s also the ninth deepest lake Inter world at almost 2,000 feet deep. We were also blessed to come after pollination as you’ll see strands of yellow flowing across the lake from the pollen. It was pretty cool to see.
Rim Village: Stopping for a quick bite at rim village, we found that there was not a lot of options to eat in the area. The restaurant was mostly grab and go food and we ended up getting a hot dog and chicken wings. There are other things to do in the village and some options for some kid friendly activities. Overall we didn’t feel like there was too much to do nor was there anything extravagant to eat while we were there. It was far from the eating options that you have when you visit some of the other national parks. Either way, you need to eat something, and if you don’t have a lot of food to eat that you have packed, you’ll have to stop.
Watchman’s Peak: Later on that night we decided to hike up to watchmans peak for the sunset. It’s a small hike that is moderate in challenge, but absolutely breathtaking as you get an entire view of the lake in all its glory. We didn’t have too many people at the top for the sunset but it was amazing to see the sun go down over the mountain range next to us. The drive back in the dark to our campground had us watching deer gather to eat while the visitors were nestled into their campsites. Stars were everywhere as we made our way to camp. It really is amazing to see how many stars are actually out when you’re not stuck in the city lights!
- Brevada Brew House
- Pluto’s Cave
- Mount Shasta Brewing Company
- Lake Siskiyou
Nothing like an early morning fire to get you started! I woke around 5:30am to just have a brief amount of time without the sun gleaming through. Made a coffee and enjoyed it by the camp fire. As I sat, the sun started to get warmer and warmer and I’m assuming my partner also felt it because she woke up. We decided to get moving and head south early. They first city we visited was Klamath Falls. A massive lake is in the area and as we passed, we were so surprised that we didn’t see a single boat on the lake. It seemed very odd. The city is also known for having the highest bald eagle population in the northwest…we didn’t see any of course!
Brevada brew house: A cool little coffee shop with beer in the mix. Who wouldn’t want to mix coffee with beer? Make that into a city and what do you have? Portland of course! The staff was very kind and my partner and I had a mix of things. I had a local DIPA with a jalapeño cheese breakfast sandwich. My partner had a bowl that looked like something out of Vitality bowl and a iced Frappuccino. A lot of locals coming in and out showed that this place was pretty popular. I was the only one with a beer for some reason! Must have been that it was 10am.
We didn’t stay too long in Klamath Falls as we wanted to get closer to our destination. Driving south we went through numerous farming communities and some very interesting small towns. As we drove, we knew we were getting close as we started to see Mount Shasta in the background. What a stunning mountain! Still snow on it in June, we don’t know if there is ever a time without snow on the top. As we drove, we found a prelude to what would be a tough turn for our road trip.
Pluto’s Cave: Have you seen the hills have eyes? A horror movie involving a family breaking down in the dessert and being tormented by the locals. Do you have the image in your head? That’s almost what we felt as we drove through the area to Pluto’s caves. There weren’t completely clear directions and we drove through houses that were boarded up, with tarps on them and all with no human presence. We started thinking what would happen if we got lost in the area. Where would we go? Who could help? We drove until we saw some graffiti on a rock area and our google map said we were there. Being that it was over 100 degrees out, we knew we wouldn’t be staying too long. I told myself that if I can’t find the caves right away, I’ll head back to the car where my wife was sitting. Luckily I saw a random metal bucket on top of a stick and assumed it was put there for a reason. I found the entrance to the first cave! As I crawled down in my sandals, I saw signs of bats all over the ground. I walked in and minus the graffiti, the cave was pretty cool to walk through. I did have one bat flying back and forth, but no real issues. I wish it wasn’t so hot out to where we could have looked for additional caves.
Mount Shasta Brewing Company: Next stop was in the town of Weed. We always have to do our brewery stops right? As we moved closer to the area, we saw to our left that a couple of fires had broken out by Mount Shasta. We knew that we would be staying next to the area so we texted our host of the campsite. He said that if it gets closer to us it won’t be for a couple of days so we felt some relief. Making it to Mount Shasta brewing, we continued to see the smoke coming through. The brewery was pretty cool and of course had a play on being a brewery in the city of Weed. We also loved the slogan, Legal weed: A friend in weed, is a friend indeed. The beer was good and the place had a lot of fun things all around for people to do. We enjoyed the staple lager, jalapeño ale and the golden ale.
Lake Siskiyou: Being that we were meeting our host for a Cambodian meal at 6pm, we still had some time so we then went to Lake Siskiyou. A beautiful lake outside of Mount Shasta city, it’s a perfect place to cool down for the day. We rented a double kayak and noticed how packed the beach was. Various water sports and even an obstacle course on the lake for kids. We took the kayak out and around the lake and it felt like we were the only ones out on the lake. We stopped for a beer on the sand bank and found a rope swing. I had never done a rope swing before and wow it was pretty cool to do. The velocity you feel when you get to the end and the rope starts tugging back. If I had a lake property, I would definitely have a rope swing! We made our way back and gave our rental kayak back. A pretty cool lake and experience to have if you’re in the area.
As we drove to our coordinates of the campsite, we went down a couple random roads. As we got within 9 miles of the campsite, as we gazed in front of us, we started to see a massive fire in the distance. Helicopters and planes all flying around the area with massive water jugs attached trying to put the forest fire out. We texted our host and said that we didn’t feel comfortable driving any further. He said he understood and he had just evacuated his house. Luckily we stopped and texted because who knows what could have happened if the fire really took off during the night while we were sleeping. We felt very fortunate that we made several stops during the day. We drove south for the night and went into Dunsmuir.
- Burney Falls
- McCloud Falls
- Yaks on 5 Restaurant
- Mossbrae Falls
Burney Falls: Waking up early in the morning can be difficult, but it makes it a lot easier when you’re going to see an absolutely stunning waterfall! This waterfall was once said to be the 8th wonder of the world by President Roosevelt. It’s a 129 foot waterfall and it’s going to be a must see on your trip. It’s located in McArthur-Burney memorial state park so there is a small fee to go into the area. A short walk down to the falls will get you a stunning view! It’s perfect to see in the morning light as the sun glistens perfectly off of it. Take some time and walk out into the water pool next to it and stare up at the site. It won’t take you too long and you can move on to your next waterfalls on the tour.
McCloud Falls: Three separate waterfalls and a small hike to each of them are in store. It shouldn’t take you too long to drive the road from Burney falls to these. The first falls you will come to is the lower half. There are small areas that you could stop off and take a dip at if you wish. Both the middle and upper falls are a bit better, but will take a small hike to get to. The hike was fairly easy and for the most part required little elevation to get to. Take in the area and just enjoy being in nature. Off to your side several times during the hike you will also get to the see the splendor of Mount Shasta.
Yaks on 5: Wrapping around after your waterfall hike, you will be pretty hungry I’m assuming. Yaks on 5 is a great location to get some food before heading out to your last waterfall for the day. They have various burgers that they make and also have a decent amount of craft beers to enjoy. The restaurant is somewhat small, but don’t let it fool you. It’s a great experience and the people are extremely kind.
Mossbrae falls: This waterfall is actually my favorite. Burney will always steal the show with anyone taking a trip to the area, but Mossbrae is just stunning. Parking is a little more complicated as this waterfall is actually off of the railroad tracks. Park right outside of the subdivision as the locals prefer you not parking around their houses. You’ll take a small walk from there until you reach the railroad tracks. We walked down the railroad tracks a ways and we were always careful to watch for passing trains. It was hot so we did make sure to take plenty of water with us on the trail. It doesn’t even feel like a trail as you are actually just walking the train tracks on the whole way. We didn’t even think we were going in the right direction until we saw a small area that we knew was the location. Walking through the woods a bit brings you to this waterfall. The water trickles down the moss, hence the name of the waterfall. There is a small pool in front of the waterfall if you want to relax and soak your feet after the hike. The rocks are a bit slippery so just be careful as you enter the water. What a day to end your waterfall tour in the area though! We stayed for a bit to just stare up at the waterfall and then we made our way back to our place we were staying for the evening.
- The Wheelhouse
- Sierra Nevada Brewing Company
- Bidwell Park
- Drunken Dumpling
The Wheelhouse: A small coffeehouse in downtown Dunsmuir is a great location to stop at for your morning coffee or a homemade kombucha to drink! They have various breakfasts that you can order. I ordered a pour over coffee and also a eggs benedict for my meal. The location is cool as they have lots of board games and memorabilia scattered around the restaurant. The restaurant is small, but we had no issues finding a seat as it’s also a big place for locals to get their coffee.
Sierra Nevada Brewing Company: We made our way into Chico as this was our last stop before heading home. The temperature was over 100 degrees and it became unbearably hot. We stopped at the Sierra Nevada brewing company. One of the largest craft beer distributions in the country, it was an extremely large operation to come across. The building was separated between the tap room, a tour center and then the gift store. We stopped in and enjoyed a wonderful meal. Their version of deviled eggs, a wedge salad and large german style pretzel with cheese. I ordered a double sampler of their beers that I had not tasted before. Many delicious beers that appealed to the inner craft beer geek inside of me. We finished with grabbing a couple of items from the gift shop before we left.
Bidwell Park: Our next stop was Bidwell park. One of the largest parks in the state, it had many things for people to do. As it was very hot out, we headed over to their version of a natural pool. People were scattered across the grounds enjoying the pool or just sunbathing. It was a great social event for the community to partake in. We didn’t experience all that the park had to offer, but it still had a golf course and many hiking trails that you can take around the area. A must if you are in the city of Chico for sure.
Drunken Dumpling: Our dinner for the evening was at the Drunken Dumpling. A small restaurant in an interesting area of the city. We sat down at a small table and ordered some tapas off the menu. 4-5 items that looked delicious and a couple of craft beers that were local. The service was fantastic and the meal was delicious. There was even a DJ spinning various songs as we ate our meal. A very neat restaurant that seemed very local.
This trip gave you many views of the beautiful state of California and also a small trip over into Oregon. You’ll see some of the largest wonders that the state has to offer. The sharp cliffs that make you feel like you are in Ireland. The giant redwoods that pictures just don’t do justice. Crater Lake national park and the amazing blue water. A waterfall tour that leaves you stunned by what mother nature can do. This trip has it all! We hope you enjoy and stay safe!
*Top people watching spot