Highway 1 – Wild Curves, Coastal Redwoods & Clifftop Camping

Highway 1 – Wild Curves, Coastal Redwoods & Clifftop Camping

It’s an invigorating driving experience, this cliff-hugging, twisting route along the northern coast of California. Its one of the worlds most spectacular drives sandwiched between rugged ocean views and towering redwood forests.

The scenes are so unbelievably striking we pinch ourselves to ensure we’re not dreaming. In all our years of road tripping, only the Icefields Parkway has captivated us this way.

coastal redwoods road trip

Highway 101 and highway 1 span the entire coast of California. It’s all beautiful but its this section of the Redwood coast that is one of our all time faves. Collectively over the years we have driven the entire coast of California and this trip to the Redwoods was our 4th.

The Redwood Forest is what sends my imagination whirling, my heart pumping and my soul soaring to the tops of the trees. It is home to the tallest living things on the planet! I love it all far more than I can express and this is the first time I have ever written about it.  Why?  Because how on earth am I supposed to put into words one of my favorite places on the planet?  I don’t think there is any way I can do it justice.

So, rather than try, we figured we would capture a small portion of the drive on video, share some of our favorite spots and then encourage you to go see for yourself what all the fuss is about. I do love it all but if I had to choose, I would say the stretch of highway from Klamath to Mendocino is probably my tops.

Klamath, California

This is a teeny tiny little town with not much going on. Its peacefully quiet and the coastal redwood trails and beaches are beautiful.  I especially love High Bluff Overlook for sunset.  Also check out nearby False Klamath Cove, because it is stunning!

newthiking coastal redwoodsklamath california

klamath claiforniahigh bluff overlookpacific coast highway road trip

Tall Trees Grove

This is one of my favorite hikes because it’s off the beaten path, limited to a number of cars per day and requires a permit (which you can get for free at Kuchel Visitor Center). It’s a beautiful (not rv friendly) 45 minute drive to get to the trail head and requires passing through a combination locked gate and a six mile dirt road…so you really feel like its a secret location!

tall trees hike in california

It’s best known for the Libbey Tree which at one time was the world’s tallest known living thing. Taller Redwoods have since been found but this is one you can actually see. Most of the other tallest trees locations have been kept secret.

Redwood National and state parkskipping through a redwood treeRedwood National and state park

Redwood National and state parkRedwood National and state park

a mossy filled fern forestRedwood National and state park

Trinidad, California

I just adore this charming little town! There is an RV friendly, ocean front day use area at the end of lighthouse road where we like to park while we explore.  We start at the Beachcomber Cafe for coffee and a pastry, hit the trails at Trinidad State Beach and finish our day off with cheap eats at The Lighthouse Grill. I dare you to go here and not fall in love. Oh, and if you decide to spend only a day here and need an overnight parking spot, we think the rest area just north of town is one of the best.

Beautiful coastal californiaTrinidad CaliforniaRedwood National Park

Beautiful coastal californiaTrinidad California

Westport-Union Landing State Beach

While this was our first time to stay at this state beach, I think the friendly shirtless host, never ending views and the drop dead gorgeous sunsets won us over.  We had no cell phone reception or wifi here but who cares!  We put any work we needed to get done aside and focused on the ridiculous beauty around us.  If we could have worked from this location, we may have never left.

clifftop camping coastal redwoodsWestport-Union Landing State BeachWestport-Union Landing State Beach

Westport-Union Landing State BeachWestport-Union Landing State Beach

There are too many gems along this route to mention, including a few Harvest Hosts stays, some great breweries and cute towns but hopefully this was enough to pique your interest. If you haven’t yet taken this road trip, do yourself a favor and add it to your bucket list now!  If you have experienced this epic drive please share your favorite stops with us.  We haven’t seen and done it all yet, but we want too and would love to hear your suggestions!

Road Report

Gear Suggestions – You will want a solid pair of hiking shoes, bug spray depending on the time of year and always be prepared for cool weather or rain. A good camera and a wide angle lens is a must if you plan to capture the trees or the vast landscapes.
Road Conditions – In places, the road has narrow shoulders and sharp drop-offs, so stay alert. This route can be tricky for larger RVs (over 35ft).
Best Time To Visit – Anytime! The temperatures don’t vary dramatically and its beautiful year round.  The summer is the busiest and I prefer to avoid those peaks.
Dates Visited – October 31 – November 7