above: Fern Canyon
Crescent City, CA, our final stop in CA!
From Redcrest, we headed north to Crescent City, but this time we made a side trip along our route. Usually we’ll find a destination and use Red to drive to various spots nearby; however, Mike really wanted to check out Fern Canyon, where parts of Jurassic Park 2 were filmed.
It’s inside the Redwoods National & State Parks so it’s not close to either our beginning or ending campgrounds. To visit it we’d normally make a day trip in our tow car from one of our campgrounds, but since our route took us nearby we decided to make it part of an extended lunch break. After some research, Mike found a large free day-use parking area with RV parking just off US-101, near the winding dirt road leading to Fern Canyon (no RVs allowed on the road). So an hour after we left Redcrest, we parked Rover at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, left the dogs in Rover since they aren’t allowed in Fern Canyon, and drove Red 20 minutes on a very bumpy dusty road to Fern Canyon. Since we had our National Parks Annual Pass with us, entry was free!
Fern Canyon was created when retreating seas carved a nice canyon through the area. Because of the humidity and constant flowing water, the walls of the canyons are covered in various ferns, some with ancestry of over 300 million years. You can walk through the canyon and gawk at the ferns covering the walls. The length is only about a mile round-trip but it can be tricky at times. There is a stream that runs through the canyon and the trail cuts across the stream multiple times. You can attempt to cross the stream using fallen branches that are haphazardly laid down, or wear waterproof shoes. There’s also one area where some huge trees have fallen and you have to scramble over and under them to continue forward.
The canyon is beautiful and peaceful, and we had a great time trying to cross the creek on thin branches and climbing on huge trees. It felt like a video game where you have to puzzle out how to get to the end without falling in. No waterproof shoes for me, so I did get damp socks from misplaced steps but it was totally worth it. After our little side adventure, we got back in Rover, ate some lunch, and continued towards Crescent City.
Before we rebooted, Mike and I were outstanding homebodies. While we would go out occasionally, we often preferred staying home and doing our own thing. That hasn’t changed at all this past year. At each stop, we’ll often plan for at least one “home day”, where we stay home and each person does whatever they want. Mike usually spends the day programming, while I’ll do some gaming, crafting, and reading (yes, Mike is the more intellectual of us). It’s having your own private time but in a shared space. It allows both of us to enjoy our own hobbies, recharge, and spend time “alone”.
Unfortunately since we weren’t at Willits or Redcrest very long, we didn’t get any home days. Between sightseeing, finding activities for Opie, and chores, we just didn’t have the time. By the time we got to Crescent City, both of us were jonesing for at least one home day. After our grocery shopping, chores, and cleaning the house, we set aside one full home day and loved it so much that we decided on a second! I think we both really needed that, and the cold (for us) and overcast weather made it even easier to stay inside.
Since Max has been feeling more energetic recently, we did end up taking the both dogs to Point St. George Beach. There are nice coastal bluffs overlooking the beach with dirt trails easy enough for Max to amble on. Although Max is getting older, the water still calls to his blood and he kept trying to climb off the cliff towards the beach so we figured we might as well bring them down to the water. The going is a bit rough with a lot of rocks but once on the beach, it’s a nice easy stroll with low waves, making it easy for Opie and Max to wade in the water.
Six miles off the point is the St. George Reef Lighthouse (inactive) which you can just barely make out from the coastal bluffs overlooking the beach. The lighthouse was built on North West Seal Rock and is completely surrounded by the ocean. Due to the location and treacherous waters, it is the most expensive lighthouse ever built (construction expenses came to over $700,000, equivalent to over $19 mil today). It took 11 years to build as each stone had to fit together with no more than a 3/16 gap to provide a solid wall against the constant ocean waves. It’s an impressive feat of engineering but it really must have sucked to pull lighthouse duty there. Currently the public cannot access the lighthouse but they are working on getting licenses to allow helicopter tours in a few years.
Crescent City has a number of interesting places to visit, including Redwoods National Park and Battery Point Lighthouse but for us, we just chose to bypass the sightseeing for some “me” time. That just means we’ll have to come back and visit again!
I know what you mean about “alone time,” even when sharing a 36″ motorhome. So glad to see Max made it out to the beach!
Question: do you book your campgrounds in advance or just “wing it?” We are heading out to Colorado sometime late summer-early fall. I don’t want to book ahead of time and be locked into a strict schedule. I’d love to know how and where you decide to stop.
Thanks! Safe travels.
Vicki, before winter in AZ, we were booking our campground about a week in advance. Then we found that state parks in AZ booked weeks in advance so we did book earlier then. We also found CA state parks booked up pretty quick, so we had about 2-3 weeks of bookings in advance. Now that we’re in Oregon, we’re just mostly about a week in advance. Currently we don’t even have any reservations and we leave this campground tomorrow! We’ll probably call today to find a spot but our usual M.O. is to book about a week in advance.
Most of the decisions is based on what is about 200-300 miles away from us. Mike has some rough plans of where we want to stop and does the trip planning constantly. Then chooses places based on things to do and distance from where we currently are. For our first year, we’re focused on finding national parks/forests, beautiful coast, and amusement parks.