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Driving from Muir Beach North on Hwy 1

Eugene, Oregon
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Driving from Muir Beach North on Hwy 1

We are planning to drive back to our home in Eugene, up Hwy 1, through Big Sur, which we are familiar with - but we need help for the section between Muir Beach and beyond. Are we foolish to try and do this in the middle of February? In the past we have just taken 101 all the way, and this time we'd love to be able to go along the coast at least until Mendocino. How long would that trip take? (Muir Beach to Mendocino?) Where is the best place to cut back to 101? Any suggestions on places to stay? The Pelican Inn in Muir Beach sounds fun!

Santa Cruz...
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1. Re: Driving from Muir Beach North on Hwy 1

Driving the coast...

After Jenner there is no way to cut back to Hwy 101 until you get to Legget, north of Mendocino, because that is where Hwy 1 joins Hwy 101, unless you take some very long and narrow and winding roads across the coast range. One is at Stewarts's Point and another at Manchester. Not recommended.

I don't think you are at all foolish to do this in February. It may rain on you, but then it may not. If we are lucky there will have been enough rain to turn the hills emerald green and bring out the wild flowers. You may see some very dramatic crashing waves. This is my favorite time of year on that drive.

The drive from Muir Beach to Stinson Beach is winding and high on the cliffs. Then the road goes inland and at Point Reyes Station skirts Tomales Bay and does not come out on the coast again until Bodega Bay.

It is about 150 miles to Mendocino, but not fast driving. Mapquest says over 4 hours. I would say longer, if you want to stop and see anything and gape at the scenery., and etc.

There is a stretch of about 8 miles north of Jenner where the road rivals Big Sur and the views are spectacular.

Things to see along the way....

You will pass Point Reyes National Seashore. This is 65,000 acres and you won't have time to give it justice, so I would save it for another trip and at least a full day.

You can buy oysters at Tomales Bay along the roadside....barbecued as well as raw.

When you get to Bodega Bay, ask for directions to drive out to Bodega Head for some great ocean views. The next 10 miles to Jenner, you will pass several state beaches, which are nice to walk on, but watch your back..... the waves are sneaky.

13 miles north of Jenner....Fort Ross State Historic Park....an outpost of the Russians in the early 1800's. It may be closed due to state budget cuts but stop and see if you can get a glimpse of the marvelous little wooden Russian Orthodox Chapel.

Three miles north of that, Timber Cove Inn, a 1960's architectural gem...rustic with a soaring lobby and situated on some spectacular bluffs. Have a coffee and walk around the bluffs.


(give the slides time to change.)

Except for wonderful scenery there isn't much to stop for until Gualala, which is an artist colony with a very nice arts center at the south end of town, (ask for directions or look for the sign) and several galleries in town.

There is a lighthouse at Point Arena, but the last time we were there, it was under construction/restoration and was not worth the drive out there.

You did not say how far you want to drive the first day, so I can't give lodging recommendations, and if it is Mendocino I pass the hat to someone who knows more than I about lodgings in the area.

Note: If you are worried about time, I usually skip the part from Muir Beach to Bodega Bay and drive 101 to Petaluma, then to Bodega Bay, a pretty pastoral drive. From Point Reyes Station to Bodega Bay is pretty, but no coastal views.

I hope this helps you decide to take this very beautiful route.

Edited: 02 February 2012, 02:44
San Francisco...
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2. Re: Driving from Muir Beach North on Hwy 1

Puter is spot on with respect to the drive. We have done it during a spring break and stayed both at the Timber cove inn and then in Mendocino. Less crowded than the Big Sur area

Napa, CA
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3. Re: Driving from Muir Beach North on Hwy 1

Yes, you can save a lot of time if you skip Muir Beach and drive up 101 to Petaluma instead and then cut over to Hwy 1 at Bodega Bay. There's a good selection of lodging there. This will give you more time to enjoy the drive to Mendocino the next day which is really spectacular.

Fort Ross SP is open on weekends only right now. If you want to skip the very twisty part of Hwy 1 north of Westport as it heads inland towards Leggett, you can always take Hwy 20 from Fort Bragg over to Willits.

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4. Re: Driving from Muir Beach North on Hwy 1

I agree with others on go 101 to Peteluma to Bodega.

Generally agree with Puter above except:

You can cut back to 101 just south of Mendocino on HWY 120. It has some curvy sections but not bad. I drive it a couple times a year. Nice wineries along the way.

Rocklin, California
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5. Re: Driving from Muir Beach North on Hwy 1

You can also cut back to 101 in Ft Brag, a bit north of Mendocino - it comes in to 101 at Willits. A bit twisty/turney, but quite doable. No real preference as to that over 120 - very similar, but not much of a backtrack as doing 120.. Have done most of these mentioned roads more than a couple of ,times but have never driven all the way to Mendocino from Bodega Bay, so don't know how the road is 30 or 40 or more miles north of Jenner.

6. Re: Driving from Muir Beach North on Hwy 1

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