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Discovering California''s Lost Coast

Sam Leash-profile-image
Sam Leash
November 21, 2020

TL;DR: Explore the Lost Coast's raw beauty, diverse wildlife, and historic significance. From rugged hikes to charming nearby towns, it's an RV adventure not to be missed!

Discovering California''s Lost Coast

When travelers think of California they often picture of Hollywood, surfers, Yosemite, the desert, San Francisco, wine country, or Silicon Valley. These well-known areas remain more popular than many lesser-known and less-frequented locations all over the state. Along the northern Pacific Coast, a very special section of California remains wild and untamed, called the Lost Coast. lost-coast-updated-1.jpeg

The famous California Route 1 spans from Orange County to Mendocino County and covers over 650 miles in distance. As you continue north, Route 1 joins U.S. 101. Where the two routes converge, the Lost Coast begins. To visit the Lost Coast, you will need to park your RV somewhere (unfortunately the nearest Harvest Hosts location is over 3 hours away in Calpella, CA, find more RV camping in California here), as The Lost Coast of California is a section of the coast with no access roads. The twenty-five-mile wilderness of forests and beaches has to be explored on foot or by passenger vehicle.

Things to do there

The Lost Coast is on many bucket lists for backpackers. Not only can you find the raw, natural beauty of the coast, but the Lost Coast is also home to the King Range Wilderness. These mountains offer easy, moderate, and strenuous hikes. Reaching the 4,000-foot peaks involves a three-day backpacking trip, but it’s absolutely worth it. Hikers are continuously in awe of the sweeping views. However, if you intend to do more than a day hike, a permit is required for safety purposes.view from the top of king range wildernessA more laid-back favorite activity on the Lost Coast is wildlife viewing. It’s not uncommon for visitors to see sea lions, harbor seals, Roosevelt Elk, and several bird species. A pro-tip is to bring some binoculars to be able to view all the available wildlife. Another great wildlife opportunity lies in the tidepools that are teeming with life. Starfish, sea urchins, crabs, and more little sea critters call these tidepools home. Most importantly, remember that no matter how small, wildlife should only be observed and never touched. 

There is one scenic drive that comes close to the Lost Coast but doesn’t actually enter it. This drive takes four hours round trip to complete and can be very bumpy, narrow, and windy in some areas. Beginning in Ferndale, California, you will want to take Mattole Road south through Capetown and Black Sand Beach, which is a great stopping point  for lunch. Next, continue on to Petrolia and Honeydew. Finally, continue north to Humboldt Redwoods State Park, which is your access back to U.S. 101. This is a great place to park your RV if you intend on driving the scenic drive and have either a towed or tow vehicle available to you. If you stop at the Redwoods State Park, the drive is only two-and-a-half hours in total. beach view on the scenic drive

History Note:

The area is rich with Native American history, which is particularly fascinating to learn about when visiting the Lost Coast. Sinkyone, Yuki, Wiyot, and Mattole people lived in this area and in the King Range Wilderness for thousands of years. They crafted boats from the great Redwood trees to cross rivers and even canoe on the ocean. In addition, they also hunted salmon, elk, and seals, which were once plentiful in the Lost Coast area.

Nearby towns/attractions

Nearby Humboldt Redwoods State Park is filled with its own activities separate from the Lost Coast. Visitors can hike, walk, bike, ride on horseback, swim, and canoe their way around the beautiful area Most importantly, the park is home to 300-foot-tall Redwood trees and has the largest expanse of old-growth Redwoods in the world. vertical view of redwood treesThe scenic drive begins in historic Ferndale, California. This charming town is filled with Victorian-era architecture that will make you feel like you have stumbled into a time machine back to the Gold Rush days. One of the popular attractions of the area is the Eel River, which is appropriately named due to its winding shape. Visitors love fishing, canoeing, and kayaking on this historic river. After a day on the water, head to Eel River Brewing for a craft beer.

Eureka, California is about twent-five minutes north of Ferndale. This small town has a delightful Old Town and Waterfront section that is waiting for discovery, much like the Lost Coast. Eat like a local and purchase crabs and other seafood fresh off of a boat to prepare in your RV. Less than fifteen minutes away is the town of Arcata. This sister town is tucked away with a stunning backdrop of Redwood trees. Go for a hike in the Arcata Community Forest or grab a meal at one of the local restaurants found here

Nearby RV camping

After a long day of exploring, RVers have multiple options for overnight accommodations. The real question is where you’d like to stay. We’ve compiled a list of five RV parks beginning in Eureka and working your way south.

Redwood Coast RV Resort

This RV resort is filled with amenities like games, a playground, mini golf, tether ball, kid’s bike rentals, a pool, a jacuzzi, and a dog park. For those who work remotely, this park also has high-speed fiber optic WiFi available. They’re within a close distance to grocery stores, lighthouses, beaches, shopping, the marina, farmer’s markets, and Redwoods.

Humboldt County Fairgrounds RV Park

This first come, first-served RV park with no frills is located in Ferndale. They offer water and electric hookups or dry camping. They provide showers and are pet-friendly location located just minutes from Centerville Beach and a short drive from the Lost Coast.

Riverwalk RV Park

This full-hookups campground offers WiFi, cable TV, a seasonal pool, a year round spa, showers, and a laundry room. They are pet-friendly and have a rec room with a pool table available. They’re also within walking distance to several restaurants in Fortuna, California.

Giant Redwoods RV and Camp

Located in Myers Flat, California, this big-rig-friendly RV park offers full hookups, fiber optic WiFi, games, playgrounds, laundry, a dog park, and a weekly outdoor movie theater. They are situated right along the Eel River, on their own private beach which allows swimming and fishing.

Shelter Cove RV Campground

The last RV park recommendation is in Shelter Cove, which is an access point to the Lost Coast. This no-frills campground is an excellent place to reconnect with nature. During the summer, they host tons of events and celebrations. They also have an on-site gift shop and deli. In conclusion, the Lost Coast is not to be missed when vacationing through Northern California. On a long road trip, it’s nice to stretch your legs for a while. Why not do that in this gorgeous section of untamed wilderness? 

The Decemberists said it best in their song “California One/Youth”:“

Take a long drive with me

On California 1.

Take a long drive with me

On California 1.

And the road a-winding goes

From golden gate to roaring cliff-side”.

Lost Coast on a sunny dayHave you visited the Lost Coast? If so, what was your favorite part? If you haven’t gone yet, what excites you the most? Tell us about it in the comments below!

About Harvest Hosts
Harvest Hosts is a unique RV camping membership that offers self-contained RVers unlimited overnight stays at over 5,658 small businesses across North America with no camping fees. Boondock at farms, wineries, breweries, attractions, and other one-of-a-kind destinations throughout North America, and you’ll get peace of mind knowing that a safe place to stay is always nearby!
Sam Leash-profile-image
Sam Leash
Sam is a seasoned traveler and RVer of 4+ years. She loves adventures of all kinds and spends as much time on the road as she can. When not exploring in her RV or writing about her travels, you can find her reading a good book, cooking a delicious meal, caring for her plants, or hiking with her dogs.