Driving the Redwood Highway

Going to California is one of the concepts I have for my annual week long vacation with my sister. What kind of a drive / how long is it from the Bay area to Redwood Park. Is late fall even a good time to visit California? I’d spend a few nights in some suburb in the Bay area so I could see Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge too.

Fall is a great time to visit California, we get a nice indian summer in the Bay Area. From below the city you could drive north and be in the redwoods in a few hours, but I wouldn’t try to make it a day trip.

Let’s say five hours from the bay up to Fort Bragg, which is lovely and right on the coast so you get mountains and sea and trees all right there. Take hwy 128 if you want the best redwood forest experience. Some nice little places to stay for the night or the weekend. Great hiking fishing, lazing around.

Enjoy your trip!

Do this:


But, you would be much better off doing it on a bicycle rather than a car. It is a magnificent ride that should be enjoyed to its fullest.

When I did it on bicycle it was one of my most memorable rides ever, and there have been a lot of them.

Rush hour traffic in the bay area is brutal. Take into consideration for when you leave / arrive.

A nice stop is the Golden Gate Bridge visitor’s center on the Marin side just as you get off the bridge. Great photo op and you can take a walk on the bridge if you like. Look carefully, it’s easy to miss as you drive by.

Late fall should be a great time to go. The Avenue of The Giants is a good 4 hours from San Francisco, with some nice scenery along the way. There are some fine redwood forests in the Santa Cruz Mountains, but the old growth, really big trees are up north. Then there are the even more massive Sequoias in the Sierras, which are about the same distance away.

Kind of what I’m thinking is stay someplace in the Bay, drive to Euraka one day, stay overnight, visit Redwood national park, stay a second night in the area and then drive back. I’m hoping to time it so the drive through San Francisco is a weekend (when I visited the Florida Keys I timed it so I was driving through Miami on a Saturday. I have driven in big city traffic- Miami, New York, Chicago, but I obviously don’t like it.

Maybe getting into IMHO territory but I’m looking for an area to stay in the bay area where I can 1) take the train into the city one day, 2) drive through the city to get to the Golden Gate Bridge for the excursion north. I don’t mind driving to a train station and parking if it’s safe, I did that to visit Boston. I don’t need a specific hotel recomendation, I’m a Holiday Inn / Days Inn type, just a general area to think about staying in.

Moving from GQ to IMHO.

General Questions Moderator

We live in Nevada and drive over to Eureka and then north every couple of years. Everyone should to do San Francisco once but we found once enough. We stayed East of the bay and took the train over, spent a day there and took the train back east. Saw the bridges and ate Korean food then scurried back east.

We tried to drive the coast highway from the Oregon State Line to San Francisco.

It WAS gorgeous. The trees were magnificent.

It was the curviest highway I’ve ever been on in my life. Some of the curves, I swear, were 270 degrees. All four of us were getting whoopsy, even my husband, the DRIVER.

We saw The Trees of Mystery and LOVED it. And we made sure we drove through a redwood and got pictures.

Just THINKING of that highway, though, makes me nauseous.

7-8 hours in my experience. You can take the 101 all the way up if you want to - it’s a long drive though.

Great time to come visit. Northern California has some of its warmest, calmest days in September/October.

Trains into San Francisco are easy to find if you’re willing to take either BART (in which case you could stay in the East Bay - Oakland/Berkeley/Fremont/Concord) or south of San Francisco proper (Daly City for BART access, San Mateo/Palo Alto/Sunnyvale/even San Jose for CalTrain access.) You may also want to think about taking ferries - you could stay in Oakland/Larkspur/Sausalito for easy ferry access into San Francisco as well.

Many of these places are a long ride from San Francisco, though, so most tourists stay in San Francisco proper or an adjacent town. I would not want to visit, stay in Fremont, and ride BART into the city to do anything, for example.
You may want to think about Sausalito for easy access to the Golden Gate Bridge, easy ferry rides into San Francisco proper, and easy access to the 101 for the drive north to the Redwoods.
Also, consider visiting Trinidad in northern California when you visit the Redwoods. Beautiful little town.

I’m thinking about driving all the way to the Oregon border since we’ve not been in that state yet. As for the drive back, what about

  1. Just calling it a trip and going back on 101
  2. Going back on 1. Just looking at a map it looks to be long and tedious but scenic?
  3. Driving over the mountains on 199 to Grants Pass, then back on I-5. Looks to be long and fast once we reach 5?

See my post above.

You won’t be able to see the coast from much of the highway. You’ll see TREES up close and personal. And curves. And maybe even a back seat of barf. It is a truly TWISTED highway. When even the DRIVER starts complaining of carsickness, you know the curves are bad.

It IS beautiful, though. The sunlight filters through the trees, and it’s almost a mystical quality. You feel like you’ve gone back to the beginning of the world.

We DID stop once, and let my daughter get out and try to screw her semi-circular canals back to where they belonged. Unfortunately, the great clouds of mosquitoes smelled the fresh meat, and we were completely enveloped in bloodthirsty critters.

You ride out the curves, stay in the car, windows rolled up, and keep the barf bags handy!

For some reason I thought your above post was referring to the Redwood Highway, not the Pacific Coast Highway. But yeah, I think I will pass on PCH. We don’t have an ocean in the midwest but we have lots of trees.

Just got back on Thursday from Ave of da Giants. Plan on six hours getting there taking 101. Do not attempt travel through Santa Rosa during commute hours. For highway 1, plan on 12 hours. Do take highway 1. It is the most beautiful road I have ever traveled. Take your time, it is winding. 1 south to Los Angeles is also stunning, winding and time consuming. Take the GG Bridge to Marin County and then 1 over to the coast to the various little villages, Point Reyes Station, Bodega Bay, etc. Stop for the afternoon and stay the night in Mendocino.

I REALLY doubt the Midwest has ANY trees like the redwoods. Seriously.

DO make sure you spend some time with the redwoods while in California.

I have driven in all parts of California, but one of the most memorable was a trip from Lassen Volcanic Park straight west to the coast, all in one day. I forget the season, but I started in cold alpine snow with bubbling, hot springs, drove into the valley where it gradually became very warm (Redding), into the foggy, cooler coastal mountain redwood country, then down to the sea, ending on the chilly beach. Like travelling thru 4 climate zones in a matter of hours.

No, you have over-achieving bushes.

North of Willits 1 and 101 follow the same route. And if you have never seen a 300 foot tall redwood, you might as well have never seen a tree. To see a whole endless forest of them at noon where the forest floor is almost dark and the trees disappear into the heights of the crowns where light peeks through is jaw dropping. You have not lived until you’ve walked in a redwood grove. The only other sight as stunning in California is Yosemite valley.

Or if you want the same vacation for a lot less money, drive on through Mendocino, cross the bridge, and stay in Fort Bragg. It’s five minutes up the road, same trees same coast and half the price.

Mendocino is a lot prettier than Ft Bragg. I stayed at the hotel on Main street last Mon night for $59 with an ocean view. Shared bathroom. Ft Bragg is a neat little town, but Mendocino is one cute little hippie village.