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Redwoods driving tour

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Jan 10th, 2007, 01:56 PM
  #1
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Redwoods driving tour

Greetings!

My husband and two kids (7 and 4) are planning a week-long driving tour from our home in Portland, Oregon in early August. We'd like to travel far enough south to see the redwoods in Northern California, then travel up the coast as far as Newport, Oregon, then home.

We'd like to do the BIG driving over the course of two days, then stick to short-ish (2-3-hour) hops for the rest of the trip.

I'm ashamed to admit, though, that I have no idea of where to start. I know we'd like to see Bandon and the Oregon Dunes, but the California part of the trip absolutely stumps me.

So! I'd love to get opinions about the best route, the best places to stay, the off-the-beaten-path must-sees along the way, good eats, etc. Thanks for any suggestions!

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Jan 10th, 2007, 09:24 PM
  #2
 
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There are two major state parks of redwoods that I know of...both are North of San Francisco. One is Muir woods, just across the bay from SF. The other is further North by Healdsburg.. The Armstrong Woods in Guerneville. The Armstrong woods are lovely and less known than Muir woods. If you come into California along Hwy #101...you'll drive through some lovely spots on the way to San Francisco. It sounds like with only a week, you won't be going into SF itself but keeping North of the city. You could drive Route #5. I think its about 6 hrs from Ashland to SF.. and then swing North and return by #101. Depends on how much driving you want to do with two children
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Jan 10th, 2007, 09:37 PM
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kleroux: The main redwood state and national parks are much farther north than that.

miamatusow: If I were you I'd probably head down I-5 to Redding and cut across to the coast on 299. But that will miss the Avenue of the Giants.

So another option would be to go a bit farther south on I-5 and cut across on hwy 36 to Albion/Fortuna. Then it is just a short detour to the south to drive through the Avenue of the Giants which is between Garberville and Fortuna. From there it is ocean and/or redwood scenery all the way up the N CA and S OR coast

But from Portland to Red Bluff (or Redding) and on to the coast is a looooong slog - so I'd break the journey somewhere like Mt Shasta.
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Jan 10th, 2007, 10:03 PM
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Thank you both! We definitely want to see the Avenue of the Giants, so it sounds as though Hwy. 36 is the one for us. Any recommendations for lodging down there? (Or anywhere else on the way back north?)
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Jan 11th, 2007, 10:47 AM
  #5
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If I were doing this trip, I would drive Portland to Shasta and spend the night. We've stayed at the McCloud Guest House, an historic B&B in nearby McCloud, and enjoyed it very much. I would then drive to Klamath on the coast north of Eureka via 299. My husband & I have stayed at the Requa Inn on the Klamath River. It is a charming old roadhouse with a restaurant serving in-season specialities. Ask for rooms with a view of the river. They have a very good website. From the Requa you can explore the Redwood National Forest which, in my opinion, is much more scenic and less "touristy" than the Avenue of the Giants. The Fern Canyon is especially lovely. You can hike to the canyon from the Prairie Creek Campground. Another nice hike is through the Lady Bird Johnson Grove. Go to the the website to see all that is available in this beautiful park. Do remember that the coast can be quite chilly during the foggy days of August so dress in layers.
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Jan 12th, 2007, 10:45 AM
  #6
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Jan 12th, 2007, 11:23 AM
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Oh, the California part is easy! Concentrate on Redwood National Park and the associated state parks-you can find lots of info at www.nps.gov/redw.
This area is close to the Oregon border, has the most beautiful and extensive areas of redwoods, and there is only one highway along the coast there. So while you can choose to take some short scenic detours on backroads (like the well marked scenic drive through Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park), there really is only one route option-Hwy 101.
I agree with 2d-Avenue of the Giants isn't really worth going that far south to, if you explore Redwood NP-it's more of a touristy thing. Plenty of giants further north, in the park! And 2d's post has other good suggestions-fern canyon, Gold Beach, Lady Bird Grove...the rangers at the visitor's center can be very helpful for off the beaten path suggestions, too (like fantastic swimming holes). It's a fantastic area, have fun!
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Jan 12th, 2007, 11:25 AM
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Oh, and I would drive south on I-5 to Grants Pass, then cut over to the coast. Not only is this the fastest way, it is also scenic and goes right by Oregon Caves National Monument. If you've never been, the cave tours are excellent. I'd highly recommend them (www.nps.gov/orca)
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Jan 12th, 2007, 12:36 PM
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Your kids would probably really enjoy a visit to the Winston Wildlife Safari (and so would you!) which is near Roseburg, OR very close to I-5. We went there when our kids were small (19 years ago!) and thought it was really neat. You drive your car through the park, and the animals are roaming free - although there are barriers seperating the more predatory species (like the lions and bears) within the park to keep all of the animals safe.There is also a safari village with a restauarant, shows, elephant rides, train ride, and a gift shop. Your tickets let you drive the loop through the park twice, so you can do one drive through, visit the village to see the shows, get a meal or snack, maybe do an elephant or train ride, then do you second drive-through. I remember this as being really fun and educational, in a beautiful natural setting. I just looked at their web site, and they still seem to be operating much as I remember. Here's their site, which has a lot of information:

http://www.wildlifesafari.org/

We also toured the Oregon Caves National Monument when on that same trip, and that was pretty cool, as well (I love touring caves). However, they require children to be at least 42 inches tall to take the tour, so it depends on your 4-year-old's height whether you can go there. Here's the web site for the caves:

http://www.nps.gov/orca/index.htm

Have a great trip!
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Jan 12th, 2007, 11:43 PM
  #10
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Thank you for the great suggestions! The Winston Wildlife Safari is already most definitely on our list - we've been there before (with and without kids) and thoroughly enjoy it. (Also on the list is the great ice cream at the Rice Hill exit off I-5 - mmmmm...)

You've talked me out of Avenue of the Giants. Now I'm thinking about driving as far as Redding on Day 1, then cutting over to Eureka on Day 2. From there, we'd sloooowly head up the coast.

Does that make sense? Any other favorite accommodations (that would be reasonable for well-behaved children)?
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Jan 12th, 2007, 11:57 PM
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Driving as far as Redding is OK - but Redding is pretty much nothing. There is the Turtle Bay Exploration Park and sundial bridge - but you wouldn't get there until night and wouldn't have time to visit it on day 2 and delay getting to the coast.

I'd probably stop in Mt Shasta, Dunsmuir, or McCloud.
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Jan 13th, 2007, 08:44 AM
  #12
GP
 
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Hi Miamatusow

Here is what I would do. Forget 299 donít even think about 36. I am sorry but that is bad advice. I have driven all these roads many times. I live near Eureka and have relatives in Gresham.
If you really want to see the Ave. of the Giants it means backtracking. If you want I can lay that out for you too. However What I suggest will get you a BIG TREE experience without doing the Ave.
Day 1 Head south on 5 to 199 at Grants Pass head to Crescent city. Base yourself there for a day or two
Day 2 Explore Jed Smith State Park some of the nicest redwoods grow here. There is an easy hike for the kids at Stout grove. There is a nice (but watch the kids) swimming hole at Jed Smith.
Day 3 day trip down 101 as far south as Prairie creek state park. Once again there are some easy hikes along prairie creek. Here is a link for the parks http://www.nps.gov/redw/
Day 4 Crescent city to Bandon here is a link for places to stay http://www.sunsetmotel.com/
Day 5 explore the Bandon area
Day 6 Drive to Newport see the sights
Day 7 see the aquarium before heading home
Here is a hint
If you click on my name it will take you to some of my other posts about the redwood area. I love hiking the redwood in fact I going out today. Yea!

Have Fun
GP
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Jan 13th, 2007, 09:20 AM
  #13
 
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I agree with GP. Jedediah Smith has a 7 mile gravel road running through the very largest coast redwoods (Howland Hill Road). Many trailheads along the way for anything from short strolls through the tall trees to all day hikes. Stout Grove is along this route.

<http://www.virtualguidebooks.com/Nor...llRd_TOC.html>

Ave of the Giants has some *slightly* taller redwoods, but the difference is only a few feet, not noticeable from the ground. Ave of the Giants also has a lot of kitschy attractions, chainsaw carved redwood bears, amateur Hobbit town, and some old drive through trees held together with bolts and metal straps.

But the grandaddy of the kitsch is up in Redwood National Park, at Klamath, Trees of Mystery. A hundred foot tall Paul Bunyan with Babe the Blue Ox (anatomically correct). Paul will speak to you from his shirt pocket, commenting on your clothing and so on, to prove he can really see you (pay no attention to the man in booth behind you). There's also a more serious small museum on local American Indian artifacts on the premises, which is free.
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Jan 13th, 2007, 09:29 AM
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1 week isn't very long..we enjoyed heading for Jediah Smith park. Pacific Ocean & Crescent City with good hotel right on the beach ..hardly a mile inland Jed Smith PArk with wonderful bark lined trails and all the redwoods you would want.
Rumored that some of teh Star Wars film scenes were shot here...
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Jan 13th, 2007, 11:26 AM
  #15
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Wow - guess I'll start looking into Crescent City, Jed Smith State Park, etc. I know that a week isn't much; we may be able to squeeze out a few more days if it seems to make sense, but we're planning a winter trip to Australia and are trying to stay less-than-extravagant on this trip, timewise.
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Jan 14th, 2007, 11:19 AM
  #16
 
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That's pretty much the same advice I and at least one other poster gave you, by the way-we just didn't spell out the cities and names of the state parks. That northern coast area is definitely the place you want to concentrate on.
One week is a perfectly reasonable length of time for this trip-no matter how long you take, someone will ALWAYS post and tell you you aren't taking long enough...
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Jan 14th, 2007, 11:34 AM
  #17
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Very, very true. That's probably because there's always more to see.

Thanks to all for the great advice!
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Jan 20th, 2007, 07:07 AM
  #18
 
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Brookings is much nicer than Crescent City.
Portland to GP. GP to Redwoods and Brookings. Head up the Coast. Dunes and Sea Lions. I'd stay in Yachats one night, as you can park the car and walk the town, the beaches are accessible very easily, and it's beautiful.Then head into Newport. Bandon's too boring for me (and our kids). Golf and agates.
Don't forget Shore Acres. We usually average about 75-150 miles a day as we head up the coast.
Just an aside: Neskowin is our favorite beach to take kids to, as it's so protected from the wind and surf. Don't know whether you've ever hit it, and I know it's north of Newport, but it's a great Sand Castle building place.
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