Scenic Driving Tours

A selection of our favorite drives through the redwoods, along the coast and into the mountains. A little bit of everything.

Scenic Driving Tours Brochure  

Redwood Scenic Parkway in Prairie Creek Redwoods SP Bald Hills Rd and Lady Bird Johnson Grove Fern Canyon via Davison Rd Trinity River National Scenic Byway - Willow Creek The Lost Coast Loop Avenue of the Giants - Humboldt Redwoods SP  
North Humboldt County: 
Prairie Creek Redwoods State park Route: Google Map
Newton B Drury Pkwy - Drive through a tunnel of trees -- stop and wander among the giants.

Time:  1 hour round trip
Begin:  Hwy 101, six miles north of Orick
Route from the south: Exit Hwy 101 onto the  Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway, the scenic alternative to Hwy 101. This ten-mile (16-km) drive through old-growth redwood forest in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Turn around at the end of Parkway or return by continuing on to Hwy 101 and head south.
The Payoff: Along the way, look for access to numerous trailheads such as Big Tree and Ah Pah. Be sure to keep an eye out for the wild elk herds that roam the park. Take a side trip on Cal Barrel Road, and stop at the Elk Prairie visitor center, hub of numerous trails. No commercial vehicles permitted. From the north, Newton B Drury Parkway can be accessed four miles south of Klamath.
North Humboldt County:  Redwoods National & State Park  Route: Google Map
This drive continues past Lady Bird Johnson Grove for forest and mountain vistas above the Redwood Creek watershed

Time:  2 hours round trip
Begin:  Hwy 101 North of Orick
Route:  Bald Hills Rd. to Schoolhouse Peak and return to start.
Leave Hwy 101, turn east onto Bald Hills Rd. and climb up into the hills forming the watershed of Redwood Creek. Stop to stretch your legs at Lady Bird Johnson Grove, then continue on to Schoolhouse Peak, a great place to enjoy a picnic lunch before turning around. 
The Payoff: Rolling green hills covered with wildflowers. On foggy days, drive here to find the sunshine and look down upon a sea of mist. 
The Twist: You'll pass the trailhead to the Tall Trees Grove where the world's tallest trees are found. 

Note:  Bald Hills Road is paved for the first 14 miles only, (remainder of road to Weitchpec is dirt & gravel - not recommended for RV's or trailers). Permits are required to visit the Tall Trees Grove.   DAVISON RD TO FERN CANYON
North-County Coastal Route: Google Map
Time:   2 hours round trip
Begin:  Orick
Route:  From Hwy 101, drive approx. 2 miles north of Orick to Davison Road and turn left. Follow through Elk Meadow and off of the paved road. Follow this spectacular scenic drive for 6 miles until you reach Gold Bluffs Beach (motorhomes and trailers are not allowed on this road). Once at the coast, follow the road along the beach for another 3 miles (fording through several small streams) until the parking lot at the end. A day-use fee of $8.00 is required.

Due to the volume of visitors, California State Parks / National Park Service will require Day Use Permits to access to Gold Bluffs Beach and Fern Canyon. Reservations will be required May 15th to September 15th. Reservations are not required September 16th to May 14th. Visitors are still required to pay the day-use fee.  Apply for a Permit:

The Payoff: Leads to the trailhead to Fern Canyon - about 1/4 mile from the actual start of the canyon. Drive from the coastal forest to the ocean with a good chance of spotting wild Roosevelt elk.
The Twist:  Fern Canyon is one of the sites filmed in the movie Jurassic Park II: The Lost World.

Mid-County - Willow Creek Route: Google Map

Time:   4 hours round trip
Begin:   Arcata - Hwy 299
Route:   Follow through farm and timberlands as the road gains altitude. In about one hour you'll reach the town of Willow Creek. Turn north on Hwy 96, following the Trinity River through the Hoopa Valley to the town of Weitchpec, or further on the Klamath River to Orleans. Retrace your steps to Arcata.
The Payoff:  Spectacular mountain and river scenery. Stop at the Lord Ellis or Berry summit vista points for panoramic views. Fall Colors September through November.
The Twist:   The route takes you on parts of two officially designated Scenic Byways, the Trinity and the Bigfoot.

Mid-County Coastal Route: Google Map

Time:   4 hours round trip
Begin:   Ferndale
Route:   From Ferndale, take the Mattole Road (the "Wildcat") south toward Petrolia. The road touches the ocean at Cape Mendocino, following the shore for six miles. Continue on through Honeydew, out of the Mattole River Valley and into Humboldt Redwoods State park. When you reach Hwy 101, turn north to return.
The Payoff:   Incredible ocean vistas, sweeping grasslands, tiny rural towns and coastal forest in this extremely isolated section of California coastline.
The Twist:  You're driving through some of the most seismically active country in the state, and the site of the state's first oil wells.   Note:  Portions of this drive west of Honeydew and west of Ferndale are rough.

South Humboldt County 
Humboldt Redwoods State park
Route: Google Map
Surrounded by Humboldt Redwoods State Park, this world-famous scenic drive is by far the most outstanding display of giant trees in the California redwood belt.  This 31-mile portion of old Hwy 101 runs parallel to Hwy 101 and is accessible by most vehicles.    Begin:   Heading south, exit Hwy 101 south of the town of Scotia, look for signs to Avenue of Giants, town of Pepperwood. Heading north, look for Avenue of the Giants exit just north of Garberville at the town of Phillipsville.
  Along the Avenue are a number of sleepy small towns including Pepperwood, Redcrest, Weott, Myers Flat (Shrine Drive-Thru Tree), Miranda and Phillipsville. Stop to browse in gift shops for your redwood Riverbend Cellars in Myers Flat memorabilia or pick up picnic supplies. There are several cafes and restaurants along the route as well. Stop in at the Riverwood Inn, last of the old roadhouses, for food and drink.  

As the main artery into the heart of Humboldt Redwoods State Park, the Avenue of the Giants provides access to numerous hiking trails and memorial groves. Look for the posted trail heads and access roads. There are also a number of spots from which you can access the Eel River for fishing, swimming and other water fun.

Link to NY Times article Land of the Giants


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