Northern California Road Trip: Point Reyes National Seashore, Lassen Volcanic National Park, Redwood National Park, Pinnacles National Park
For my milestone birthday, I decided to take an spur-of-the-moment adventure to explore Northern California. That's how I like to roll sometimes. Some of my most memorable trips are those trips that are unplanned and when I depend on locals for their advice. I've never ventured up to visit this part of California so it was exciting for me to take this road trip to see beautiful places along the Redwood Coast. During this road trip, I got to check off the remaining national parks on my California bucket list.
There was an abundance of wildlife during my trip up north. I saw tule elk, countless deer (especially at night along and on the road), elephant seals, and coyotes.
I've always wanted to try the local oysters on the coast in this part of the state, so we headed up to Fishetarian Fish Market in Bodega Bay for dinner since the Marshall Store was already closed for the day. They had an awesome craft beer selection including Pliny the Elder on tap.
I've always wanted to make the pilgrimage to Russian River Brewery (one of the best breweries in the world) so since we were staying in Santa Rosa, we stopped by for a craft beer tasting and dinner. We had a margherita pizza and chicken wings for dinner. The food was not out ordinary. It was all about the beer. This was a craft beer lover's dream come true.
The park ranger recommended Fern Canyon as a must see at Redwood State and National Park. The road to Fern Canyon at times was single lane so it might be a challenge for some drivers. To get to the lot at the end of the road, you'll need a high clearance vehicle. If not, park when you see the first creek (there's 2 before you reach the Fern Canyon parking lot) and walk to the end of the road.
One of the newest national parks is Pinnacles National Park. It's on the smaller side with about a 3 mile road I was told.
I decided to do the recommended cave hike where you will have to squeeze through tight spaces and will need a flash light or headlamp.
During my hike, I experienced a 4.7 earthquake. The park is located near the boundary of the Pacific Plate and the San Andreas Fault. It was quite scary to hear the loud rumble then a jolt. I wasn't sure if it was an earthquake, but confirmed it was at the Nature Center. Fortunately, I wasn't inside of the cave when it happened.
The park gets hot so I planned to do another couple hours of hiking after the cave hike. I did the nearby Condor Trail which hooks up to the High Peaks Trail. I recommend this hike earlier in the day when it is cooler. I took frequent breaks in the shade and ran out of water. Bring plenty of water. In the summer, the temperature can reach over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
It was an action packed 9-day road trip and I had an unforgettable experience. I was able to do so many things and saw parts of California that not many people get to see such as hydro thermal activity at Lassen Volcanic National Park, observe plenty of wildlife, and the hike the rugged beauty of the unique Northern California redwood coast.
I bought an America the Beautiful annual pass while I was in Pinnacles National Park to explore even more National Parks, National Forests, and Bureau of Land Management areas. I'm already looking forward to my next National Parks road trip.
Until next time...
Hello, I'm Anne.
I was born and raised in Los Angeles, and I love exploring Los Angeles like a tourist. I have as much fun in my hometown as I do traveling in another country. I live to eat (good food) and travel!