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North California Route - Crater Lake to SF

Israel
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North California Route - Crater Lake to SF

Trying to deal with the very last section of our 101 days long road trip to the West, and could use some help with our itinerary for the last week and a half.

Having spent the previous day visiting Crater Lake and probably sleeping somewhere near Grants Pass, OR...

Sunday, August 21 - Drive from Grants Pass (or the area) to Jedediah Smith Redwood SP. I think we can be there sometime around noon. I'd like to drive the Mill Creek road, and Howland Hill Road and do a few short hikes. Then drive to Klamath and sleep over there.

Monday, August 22 - Spend the day in the Klamath area, focusing on Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway and Fern Canyon and other short hikes in the area. If we have extra time, maybe do the jet boat ride into the river. Spend the night at the same place in Klamath.

Tuesday, August 23 - Visit Humboldt SP, drive the Avenue of the Giants and maybe a drive-thru tree, then head for the coast again and visit Fort Bragg and Mendocino. Spend the night at Mendocino.

Wednesday, August 24 - Head south from Mendocino, join the 101 again and drive to Oakland/SF, where we'll be spending the last several days of our US holiday.

What do you think? Please keep in mind that by that time we'd have visited the Oregon coast thoroughly, as well as the coasts of the Olympic peninsula, and have driven the SF-LA part of HWY 1, so I think we can do with less beach time, and focus on the trees and then heading back to the Bay Area.

Napa, CA
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1. Re: North California Route - Crater Lake to SF

"so I think we can do with less beach time,"

Were you planning to spend anytime on the beach in Northern California? I don't see it on this itinerary other than your drive out to Fern Canyon. Most of the coastline in Humboldt and Del Norte counties is pretty rugged, so rugged that there is no highway along much of it until you get down to Mendocino County. When you do find beaches, they are often enshrouded in fog during summer and the ocean water is very cold. These are not Mediterranean style beaches. The beauty of the NorCal beaches is that when you do find a nice one, you may often have it all to yourself if you know where to look and are away from the urban areas.

I remember that at one time you were planning on coming down into California by Mt. Shasta and Lassen Park. I guess you had to choose between the redwoods and the Cascades and chose the Northwestern route.

Your plan is certainly doable. It is jam packed and if the other 97 days are like these, I would be totally exhausted after one week. The drives on three of the four days are all fairly extensive. Monday sounds the most relaxing since you will be staying in the same place as the night before.

I've never done the jet boat ride on the Klamath but have at Grant's Pass and that one is a lot of fun although the one at the other end of the Rogue (from Gold Beach) is even more interesting and you shouldn't miss it if you are visiting that part of the Oregon Coast before going to Crater Lake.

From Mendocino, you could either continue on Hwy 1 along the coast to Jenner or Bodega Bay or you could head inland on Hwy 128 which takes you through some nice redwoods and the beautiful Anderson Valley with its vineyards and orchards. 128 would be the quicker of the two to get to Oakland or San Francisco.

Israel
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2. Re: North California Route - Crater Lake to SF

I thought we might take a look at the beaches at Fort Bragg and Mendocino, but you make them sound less appetizing lol. Not sure how much we want to wander into wet foggy sand.

What I want to get a good feel of is the big trees. We've been to the Seqouia NP a couple of years ago, and we'd like to see the redwoods this time around.

I do wonder about it being too packed though. I hope the rest of the trip is more balanced - I tried to have 3-6 days at the same place at least every second stay, so we don't end up hopping from one spot to another. However, this being the very last part of our trip, I wonder if I need to lighten it up some more. What are the roads like in these areas? I don't want to end up with double the driving time, just because Google thinks you can drive there faster than what the road allows for.

Edited: 11 January 2011, 15:06
Napa, CA
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3. Re: North California Route - Crater Lake to SF

Sure, you can take a look at the beaches in Fort Bragg. Fort Bragg is an old logging town and the logging company used to have a logging road right along the beach for ten miles or so. It's now a hiking and bicycle path:

http://www.mendowalks.org/TMHRS.php

Mendocino is on a rocky headland but there are some nice, small beaches nearby. One just south of town is very nice when the tide is out and you can hike along the river or kayak in the estuary. There are kayak rental places right there.

http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=25197

There are also other small beaches nearby in some of the state parks and there is an excellent botanical garden and a pygmy forest in the area.

I didn't mean to dissuade you from the area but if you are looking for beach time where you can swim and frolic in the surf, this is not the place. However, if you like beautiful beaches to walk on and find solitude and quiet while admiring nature's awesome beauty, then this is where you will find them. These beaches have more in common with Alaska than the beaches in Southern California.

For redwoods, you will probably get your fill in Jedidiah Smith and Prairie Creek State Parks. Humboldt and Avenue of the Giants may be overkill unless you are really into the trees. Do go out to Fern Canyon though. This is an outstanding area with one of the biggest beaches in the area where elk are often sighted. If you have time, take one of the hikes in this area.

Here's a good website to help you plan your exploration of the California redwoods. There's some nice photos here too that can help give you an idea of what there is to see.

http://www.redwoodhikes.com/

Fremont, California
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4. Re: North California Route - Crater Lake to SF

Personally, I love your trip! You've done a good job of planning it.

Requaa Inn at Klamath River is a nice stay....

Even though it sounds hokey a stop at Trees of Mystery is fun.

http://www.treesofmystery.net/

Requaa Inn link:

It is right at the mouth of the Klamath River so interesting site.

http://www.requainn.com/

From Mendocino you might want to take highway 128 to highway 101 instead of doing the twisty turny highway 1 - its up to you; but if you're tired of driving; it is a scenic, but somewhat easy path to San Francisco.

Israel
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5. Re: North California Route - Crater Lake to SF

Excellent, thank you. I got some more advice from an American friend who knows the area yesterday. He recommended against driving for too long after visiting Lake Crater, because we would be driving in mountain territory and it would be alternating between dark roads (sun hidden by the mountains) and patches of the road where we would have direct sunlight from the sun setting in the west. That means we're going to stop overnight at Union Creek, and we'll have only half a day at Jedidiah Smith SP.

Oregon Coast
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6. Re: North California Route - Crater Lake to SF

I'm very familiar with this area. Grants Pass to Crescent City is only two hours driving at or under the speed limit. It's a good highway.

Klamath itself is not much of a town, and the only places to eat are the Subway (chain sub sandwiches) and the Steelhead Lodge. The Requa Inn no longer serves dinner, at least as of fall 2010.

You might want to take a few minutes and see the Battery Point lighthouse in Crescent City. You access it across a causeway only at low tide and it's the only one on the west coast like that... tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60944-d11…

I agree that I would skip the Avenue of the Giants as I think it is not nearly as impressive as Howland Hill Road (and I've been on both several times). It's not pristine trees in a quiet forest - you drive through small towns with businesses and so on. But that's only my opinion :-)

*

I'm puzzled by your friend's comments about driving from Crater Lake to Grants Pass? It's only *two hours* on a decent road.

If you want to spend time in the trees, a half day won't be enough, IMO.

__

Edit

The sun doesn't set until about 9:00 pm in August.

Edited: 12 January 2011, 23:31
Napa, CA
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7. Re: North California Route - Crater Lake to SF

I too am puzzled by your friend's comments. What time would you be leaving Crater Lake? The road to Grant's Pass is a fine one and you will be traveling in a southerly or southwesterly direction whereas the sun will be setting towards the northwest. I don't think it's an issue and Grant's Pass is an excellent place to spend the night with varied lodging and dining options.

Israel
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8. Re: North California Route - Crater Lake to SF

I'm not sure at what time we can leave Crater Lake, and can actually use some input on that day's plan.

We'll be starting our day at Idleyld Park, on road 138, east of Roseburg. I think we can reasonably check out and leave by 8:30 AM. Driving time to Crater Lake should be a couple of hours, but I'm adding an hour for stopping at some of the falls. I think I want to see Toketee Falls and Clearwater Falls - probably no more, because we'd have seen way too many waterfalls on this trip by that point, and I suspect we'd want to skip the rest. So, let's say we reach Crater Lake by noon. I'm thinking five hours for visiting the Lake? driving around it, hiking down to the shore at the point where you can and touching the water, and maybe, if we're lucky, the boat tour on the lake (I'll see about reserving tickets, once we're closer). So, at most, we leave Crater Lake by 5, right?

Have I missed anything? Let's say we drive out to Grants Pass, maybe with a short stop at Prospect for a look at the historic town? does it sound like we could make it safely to Grants Pass by 7 without rushing our day?

My friends has lived in the California-Oregon-Nevada for many years and has crossed the mountains at many points. I'm not sure how often he's traveled this particular road, but he did say it gets darker in the mountains before the sun sets. He also said to watch for animals crossing the roads at dusk.

About the Avenue of the Giants. My thoughts are, if we're not setting time aside for that particular attraction, and if we decide we have a beach overload by that point (having visited tons of the coast by then, in CA, Oregon and Washington), then maybe just drive from Klamath (after spending two days in the area), directly to SF? Are there any spots on the way that we should definitely stop for?

We're members of the hospitality club, so I'm thinking this might be a good time to meet with a local family on the 101 route. Just see how a regular CA family lives, talk and get to know locals, and sleep in their town wherever that may be. Could be a nice way to wrap up our trip :)

Israel
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9. Re: North California Route - Crater Lake to SF

Ok, some changes again... I've been thinking about everything said here, and came up with this revised plan -

Aug 21 - Grants Pass to Jedidiah Smith until the evening. Drive to Klamath for overnight. Total driving distance: 166 km - ~3 hrs

Day 22 - Prairie Creek SP for the day then in the afternoon, drive towards Willow Creek. Sleep at Willow Creek.- total driving distance: 150 km - >2 hrs

Day 23 - Rafting at Willow Creek with these guys: http://www.bigfootrafting.com/ - a short trip of 2-3 river hours is enough for us. Then drive to Redding in the afternoon. Sleep at Redding. distance: 161 Km ~2hrs

Day 24 - Morning in Redding to see the sundial clock and maybe the historic park - then drive down to Oakland. If we leave Redding by noon, I think we may be able to catch a tour of the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield (they stop at 4). 340Km - >4hrs

What do you think? This allows us to work in that short rafting trip which would be a highlight for the boys, plus the Jelly Belly factory.

Too ambitious? Did I get the distances/times wrong? I worked with Google maps, but locals usually know better.

Prospect, Oregon
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10. Re: North California Route - Crater Lake to SF

Did you want to see EVERYTHING through the windshield?

You will spend more time in the car then seeing the wonders of the land.

Crater Lake National Park in 5 hours? Yes you can do that, but take lots of pictures so you can remember what you saw. Crater Lake is the Deepest Lake in the USA. 7th deepest in the WORLD! It is one of the wonders of the world. The drive around the rim is 33 miles. If you just drive it and don't stop to look it is 1.5 hours, you have the pinnacles on the east side that are fantastic fumerole formations, the historic lodge, the museum at Sinott Memorial Overlook . You can only hike down to the water at Cleetwood Cove; a 1 mile long trail with a 700 foot elevation change - each way. You will only see the very least of everything on your itinerary by cramming this much in. The Boys will be exhausted from all the road time and everyone will end up cranky! When does anyone get time to hike, and exercise off some off that pent up energy.

I suggest less travel, more explore.

This plan is Coast and the Coast and more of the Coast. How many beaches can you see before they all look the same?

Spend more time at each place to truly SEE it, and less time adding notches on your trip list of all the things you DROVE BY.

Of course I own the Prospect Hotel (www.prospecthotel.com) in the town of Prospect near Crater Lake and I am a little prejudice on seeing what we have to offer. Also I have rearranged several of our guests overly aggressive vacations (such as yours) in the past and they have all come back and thanked me.

STOP and SMELL the ROSES. You won't be sorry!

That's my 2 cents!