The North Coast and the Redwood Empire
public parks and natural scenery of the north coast, there are other commerical
attractions in the area.
Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens - This is one of the most beautiful gardens to be found anywhere in the state. Located at the south edge of Fort Bragg, it consists of 47 acres of groomed formal gardens, a lush fern canyon, open meadows, shady woods, and dramatic coastal bluffs. It's like a scenic sampler of all the coastal environments compressed into one compact, easy-to-see package.
Skunk Trains - This famous train ride runs between Fort Bragg and Willits. One train follows marshy Pudding Creek and the redwood-forested Noyo River canyon before making a rest stop at its midway turnaround point at Northspur. Another train picks passengers up at Northspur and takes them inland through steep, dry, rocky canyons to Willits. You can take a halfway 3.5 hour trip to Northspur and back or go all the way from Fort Bragg to Willits and back, which takes all day. During the summer, you can ride through the soaring redwoods in an open-air observation car.
Avenue of the Giants - This scenic bypass runs for 32 miles parallel of Hwy 101 between Fortuna and Garberville. This is an old route, which has a number of small private tourist stops at interesting trees. These are sometimes are a little hokey and obvious tourist traps, but many hail from the early days of auto tourist travel through the region. Usually, they have a parking lot, gift shop, and maybe a snack shop. See this link for more information on these and similar spots. The road runs through Humboldt Redwoods State Park, so there are many giant trees and groves that are part of the park. See the Parks Page for more information.
Pacific Lumber Company tours - The Pacific Lumber Company in Scotia runs the largest redwood sawmill in the world. On weekdays from 8 to 2, you can take self-guided tours of the mill. You will either be awed or appalled, depending on your feelings about redwood lumbering. Nearby in town is a museum on lumbering, whose columns are redwood trunks. In front are outdoor displays of lumbering equipment. Just outside of town, the company has a demonstration redwood forest with self-guided trails and displays on the forest environment
Trees of Mystery - This is probably the largest and most famous of the commercial tourist spots (or traps, depending on your tastes) in the Redwood Empire. Located on Hwy 101 near Klamath, you can't miss it. The huge towering statues of Paul Bunyan and his well-endowed blue ox Babe greet visitors. Paul has a speaker inside and literally greets you. The visitors center there is probably the biggest souvenir store in the region. Self-guided trails wind along hilly paths, leading past unusual trees and lush gardens.
- Located in Crescent City, this private aquarium can't compare to Monterey
Bay's (who can?), but is still an interesting place to visit if you're
in the area. It has a half million gallon tank with sharks, rays, and other
fish, a tidepool touch tank, a shark petting tank, river otters, and trained
Previous release 5/24/99, last updated 7/23/01
Fern Canyon at Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens