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Mendocino National Forest

Mendocino National Forest
Go hiking, boating, and wildlife-watching at this sprawling monument

Spanning 330,780 acres of public land, Mendocino National Forest became a monument in 2015, praised by then-President Barack Obama for its “biodiversity and an abundance of recreational opportunities.” The magical, massive land parcel rises from near sea level in the south to above 7,000-foot elevations in the northern mountains. Along the way, it encompasses nearly 100 miles and dozens of different ecosystems.

Nearly half that land is maintained by the Bureau of Land Management, and visitors can enjoy a variety of recreational activities—from hiking on rustic trails, to boating and all-terrain vehicle driving. There are a lot of fish to be caught around here, too, from the rainbow trout in streams to the bass in Lake Pillsbury. 

No visit is complete without embracing the Cache Creek Wilderness, east of Clear Lake in eastern Lake County. Come hiking here (on sometimes steep terrain) for stunning views, or bring your tent to one of the area campgrounds; go boating on the 17-mile canyon creek, enjoy horseback riding, or just come for the wildlife viewing. Keep an eye out for deer, Tule elk, black bears, wild pigs, and even magnificent bald eagles, which are particularly active from mid-October through mid-August. Come in spring to see wildflowers such as lupine, poppies, and lilacs.

The Cedar Roughs Wildlife Area is another gem, more secluded and rugged in its forested mountains west of Lake Berryessa in Napa County. Home to the rare Sargent cypress trees that thrive in the area’s bluish-green, rocky serpentine soil, it’s also a treasured habitat for Napa County’s remaining black bear population.

Thrill seekers also gravitate to the Knoxville Wildlife Area, ideal for four-wheel-drive vehicles, motorcycles, or all-terrain vehicles. Whatever way you travel, you’ll be surrounded by spectacular scenery.

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Tai Power Seeff

Northern California

Discover the North Coast

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11
November
Average (°C)
Sept - Nov
17°
High
7°
Low
Dec - Feb
12°
High
5°
Low
Mar - May
14°
High
6°
Low
June - Aug
16°
High
10°
Low

Romance finds a home in this idyllic coastal region, where ocean fog rolls in from the ocean to blanket hushed redwood forests, and whales spout offshore. Along the coast, artists set up their easels to paint scenes of crashing surf and whitewashed cottages wrapped in rose-filled gardens.

Each year, December through May, look to the sea to witness roughly 15,000 gray whales swimming south for the summer.

It’s also a place where a new generation of farmers and winemakers focus on preserving the land as well as producing amazing food and wine. Favorite escapes include the romantic hamlet of Mendocino, roughly a 3-hour drive up the coast from San Francisco, and Eureka, a former logging town 2 hours further north, and the gateway to breathtaking Redwoods National and State Parks.

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Clear Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake within California, is the oldest lake in North America and possibly the world.
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Amy Meredith/Flickr
Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.
John Muir
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Kodiak Greenwood

Spotlight: Mendocino

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Discover a coastal paradise with ridiculously fresh seafood, amazing wine, and craft beer

With its dramatic ocean-bluff setting overlooking a steel-blue sea, this coastal hamlet is an obvious magnet for artists, romantics, and lovers of...

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Harriot Manley/ Sunset Publishing

North Coast Wine Country

Slip away to some of the state’s most peaceful vineyards

From quiet vineyards bounded by lush redwood forests along the Mendocino Coast, to the sun-drenched rolling hills of rugged Lake County, the North...

Clear Lake, California
Courtesy of County of Lake

Clear Lake

Explore a burgeoning wine scene and cool off with a summery splash in the lake

Take a deep breath the next time you’re in Northern California’s Lake County. That’s some of...

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Wine & Dine in the North Coast

Sample hyper-local foods from land and sea, plus amazing beers and wines

The North Coast might just be the perfect place to eat. Few other places in the world can offer such a harmonious blend of chefs, farmers,...

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Follow celebrated routes to iconic vineyards and tucked-away surprises

With more than 4,000 wineries statewide, California lets you sample award-winning wines almost anywhere you go. These classic and up-and-coming wine roads—some too packed with wineries to tackle...

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Celebrate the seasonal bounty and quirky art-fueled character of the North Coast

You can learn a lot about a place at its local festivals. Consider the Kinetic Grand Championship, a cosmically silly three-day battle between human-powered works of art (imagine a speeding dragon...

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The Humboldt County Fair began in 1896 and is the oldest running county fair in California.
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Courtesy of Humboldt County CVB

Ferndale

Visit a Victorian village where time stands still

A fairytale come to life, this remote village features carefully preserved Victorian-era century homes, a visual and architectural feast. On a...

May

Creativity, contraptions and costumes—those are the mantras for this wacky three-day Memorial Day weekend (last weekend in May) event on a wild stretch of the North Coast. Dubbed the 'triathalon...

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Erik Fitzpatrick/Flickr
California's North Coast
The Skunk Train on California's North Coast
Courtesy of Skunk Train

Skunk Train

Ride a historic train through soaring coastal redwoods

Originally built in 1885 to transport redwood logs from the rugged countryside to the coast, the...

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Courtesy of Humboldt County CVB

Eureka

Nature and culture merge in an art fuelled Victorian seaport

This lively seaport town, the largest coastal city between San Francisco and Portland, Oregon, has a split personality charm: a sense of history...

The rocky coast off Fort Bragg, California
Lucas Himovitz

Fort Bragg

Rough-and-tumble lumber town morphs into a top coastal find

With its original roots as a military garrison and then a gritty lumber town, Fort Bragg skirted under the radar of most visitors. But now—perhaps...

November

Winter rains signal the beginning of the North Coast’s astounding mushroom season. Celebrate the harvest of one of the region’s most loved bounties—and a few other products of the liquid variety—...

Chefs at work at Feast Mendocino
Brendan McGuigan
The North Coast region of California
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While now a beautiful coastal treasure, Glass Beach initially began in the late 1940s as a place where locals would toss their trash, including glass bottles.