|WHAT TO EXPECT
Follow the rugged Pacific coastline on the Pacific Coast Highway. Seemingly endless
vineyards will attract your attention as you drive from the Napa Valley toward the coast. Then
you will see marvelous seascapes, feel infinitesimally small as you walk through the
redwoods, view elk, see cheese manufactured, or go aboard the largest “flying boat”. Maybe
you’ll take an inflatable up the Rogue River or ride an ATV over the sand dunes. From shore
you may see whales, seals, sea lions, and a variety of birds.
As you read this you may wish to trace the route on your road map.
(C) 2002-2009 J. Watson All rights reserved
ADVICE. Generally, California Route 1 follows the Pacific coast. It is noted for its spectacular
beauty, but you should be forewarned of the many twists and turns as it hugs the sides of cliffs
that drop to the ocean from the unprotected highway. There are many unprotected sheer
drops. For this reason many travelers prefer driving from the south to the north in order to be
on the inboard side of the road.
North of San Francisco Route 1 clings to the coastal mountains and is not RV friendly. Most
roads connecting Route 1 to US-101 are torturous. RVers generally prefer driving on US-101.
They’re wise – take it from one who’s seen a RVer trembling after driving a few miles on Route
1, just south of Leggett, and he still had to clean up from the “car-sick” dog. We noticed that
RV parks north of San Francisco along CA-1 have mostly smaller units. Some fifth wheels are
in campgrounds so it is passable by experienced RVers.
|DECISION TIME. As you depart from California you have to make a tough decision –
which scenic route to take in Oregon…
Continue up along the Oregon coast to visit the small seaside towns - continue below
Head inland to Crater Lake National Park and Bend and the nearby volcanoes. This is an
outstanding part of the trip – however, it’s trade-off time as the Oregon coast is also a
marvelous tour. Route C: Northern California and Oregon - Interior route
Or better yet, do both.
If going to Crater Lake National Park and Bend. Head east from Crescent City on US-
199 to Grants Pass, Oregon. This scenic route is mountainous and as you leave the
coast it goes through a forest of redwoods and Douglas firs with many twists and turns.
Before reaching Grants Pass you have an opportunity to visit the Oregon Cave
National Monument. This is a rugged cave to tour with many tight places to squeeze
through. RVs are not allowed to travel the road to the cave.
From Grants Pass go south on I-5 to Medford and cut west on Route 62 to the park
entrance. We enjoyed an afternoon of floating down the river that parallels Route 62.
This segment is shown as: Route C: Northern California & Oregon —Interior route
Northern California and Oregon -- Coastal Route
North of San Francisco ...
Petaluma or south. Here, the KOA® RV park runs excellent all-day
tours of San Francisco. Seasonal tours are open to the general
public, as of this writing. Leave the driving to them.
South of Petaluma there are ferries to San Francisco if you prefer
to do it on your own. Or, drive south over Golden Gate Bridge
(photo). Some highlights of the city – Chinatown, Golden Gate
Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf (photo), Girardelli Square, Japanese Tea
Garden, and Alcatraz National Monument (a former federal prison
that is reached by ferry – advance reservations are advised), and
many nightspots. The lobby of the Fairmont Hotel has a fine
collection of photos of the 1906 earthquake. In San Francisco you
can expect morning fog. Nearby is Muir Woods National
Monument with a redwood forest.
Note: If taking US-101 skip ahead to Willets, CA
Going north along Route 1 ...
Jenner is the site of Fort Ross. The site of the restored outpost
overlooks the ocean and was used by the Russians back in the early
1800s. Yes, the Russians then owned Alaska, as this part of the
coast had not been claimed by any other nation Russia used this
location to serve their Alaskan holdings. Learn the reasons for their
departure. Go north to the
Point Arena and Manchester area. Maybe you’ll enjoy a walk to
one of the beaches that are just off on the side roads (photo). Be
sure to look for whales as you travel the coast. Then to…
Mendocino. We’ve enjoyed driving as well as walking along some
of the coastal roads and a visit to the lighthouse. A visit to the
Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens is worthwhile. Then head
Fort Bragg, if driving a car on Route 1 or
Willets if you are in a RV taking Route 101. (I have driven a 26-foot
motorhome from Willets to Fort Bragg on the twisty Route 20,
however it is a white knuckle drive.) From either town take the
“Skunk Train”. This train takes you through a redwood forest. This
is a fun trip. Reservations suggested.
Then drive north through…
Humboldt Redwoods State Park. Going north, be sure to take the
two-lane scenic alternate route Avenue of the Giants (photo) that
parallels US-101. Stop along the side of the road to take a walk
among the trees. You’re sure to feel infinitesimal, as you
comprehend their height. As you drive you may see some elk.
Continue north to…
Scotia. This is a lumber center and the Pacific Lumber Company
mill is open for visitors. Take the tour – it’s interesting. Then
continue north along the Pacific (on the way, scan the ocean to see
if the whales are migrating) to…
Orick and Redwood National Park. Orick is a small hamlet on the
edge of the ocean. Pull off the road at the beach. At the northern
end of the beach there is a Park visitors center with an exhibit area.
Walk along the beach – see any whales, seals? One year we saw
seals gorging on the smelts that were running.
Continue north through the park and be sure to stop along the way
to walk among the magnificent redwoods. See any elk? Next to…
Crescent City. This is a fishing community and has quite a story to
tell. Ask an “old-timer” about the tsunami in the sixties. Buy tuna off
the boat. Ask a commercial fisherman at the dock about the fishery.
Walk the breakwater and visit the lighthouse, which is only
accessible at low tide. Enjoy lunch at one of the restaurants near
the wharf. Go north to…
Continue north along the Oregon Coast,
Napa Valley. This is one of the most
productive wine areas in the US. Take
time to taste and enjoy. There are
dozens of wineries with tasting rooms
and most have tours. Then drive
alongside the many vineyards toward
the coast to…