Craggy cliffs tower over timber-strewn beaches and hidden rocky coves along California’s North Coast. Land of spotted owls, timber wars, flannel shirts and Christian rock, this is the antithesis of Southern California in almost every way. Think Hitchcock, not Baywatch. You don’t go north to get a tan, not even in July - especially not in July, when you’re lucky if you see the sun at all. Why? The fog. Once you get over its icy chill (carry a sweater), you’ll come to appreciate the fog’s brooding beauty and graceful, ghost-like swirls.
As you head northward through Sonoma and Mendocino counties, luxury sedans with babies on board give way to pickup trucks with gun racks. Welcome to the Redwood Empire, where Hwy 1 ends its long trek from Southern California and cuts inland to join Hwy 101. The land along the Pacific - called the Lost Coast - is too steep and rugged to support a major highway. Working your way northbound through Humboldt County, you’ll wind beneath towering redwoods, the tallest trees in the world, as you approach the small harbor-side Victorian cities of Eureka and Arcata, where ‘heavy traffic’ means a five-minute delay. Lagoons and marshes yield to giant trees and roaming elk, and you’re back in the woods, twisting and turning your way toward Del Norte County, the beginning of the Pacific Northwest and the northernmost end of California. Disneyland couldn’t feel further away.