Mendocino County is a picture-perfect destination with stunning ocean vistas, green grapevine-filled valleys, shaggy sheep snoozing under ancient oaks, and massive redwoods soaring into the sky. Join us on our journey around the county for some of the top spots to capture yourself (and friends and family) in the outstanding natural beauty that is Mendocino County!
Point Arena: B. Bryan Preserve
Watch out when you snap a shot with the Rothschild Giraffes at B. Bryan Preserve! These rare critters have a habit of sneaking a kiss with visitors who “ooh and aah” over their elegant beauty, and with a tongue that’s 18 inches long, that’s quite a face-washing! The entire preserve is the perfect place to pretend you’re on safari in the African veldt… and not in southern Mendocino County! Take a tour in a vintage Land Rover with the opportunity to get an up-close view of the majestic animals that roam the ranch. For a bonus, stay in one of the picture perfect cottages on-site.
Hidden in a valley between Ukiah and the coast lies a most majestic spot. Wend your way on Orr Springs Road, east from Ukiah, pass the resort by about two or so miles and pull into the car park just over the bridge. Inhale the forest as you start to walk the slight uphill climb alongside Montgomery Creek. A quick descent and all at once you’re in a cathedral of redwood trees so tall they block the sun and dull the soundtrack. Trek around this grove of ancient giants past the goose-pen trees, pose in the hollow of a burned ruin or before the naked root structure of these behemoths. Selfies galore await your every turn.
The Apple Farm
Head to the Apple Farm when the trees are bursting with blooms in the spring or heavy with ripe apples in the fall. The honor system farm stand offers heritage apples and pears grown on the farm, as well as homemade jams, chutneys, cider and other assorted goodies to enjoy at home. Strike a pose among the apple trees or in the French-style garden that has surprises at every turn. If you love to cook, this is just the place for a mid-week “stay and cook” getaway! Find the Apple Farm on the Philo-Greenwood Road just off Highway 128.
Roosevelt Elk ©Mendocino Land Trust
The Lost Coast
Head up Highway 1, past Fort Bragg and then inland toward Leggett. Look for mile marker 90.88 and turn north on a dirt road that snakes into the Lost Coast. You’ll hit the Peter Douglas Trail, a 2.3-mile extension of the Lost Coast Trail, that showcases ancient redwoods shaped like candelabras by wind and salty air. Instead of growing into massive straight columns, stressors caused these trees to sprout branches near the ground that droop like velvet ropes in a theater. Snap yourself showcased by dramatic views of the rugged Lost Coast, get photobombed by a majestic Roosevelt elk, and seek out the plants and critters who live in this isolated pocket. The adventurous can continue on to the primitive campsites in Sinkyone Wilderness State Park at Usal Beach Campground.
Solar Living Center
The first stop in Hopland on Highway 101 is at the Solar Living Center. Since 1996 SLI has been a showpiece of sustainable living, rising like a phoenix from the debris of a former highway dump site. With its ponds, lavender labyrinth, the deliciously cool central oasis, statuary, and the rusty car forest, there are literally dozens of places for a cameo appearance! You can even enjoy an overnight stay in the Tiny Tumbleweed House. While in Hopland, check out the bocce scene at Brutocao Cellars and learn about olive oil at Terra Sàvia.
Elk Sea Stacks
Head south of the Navarro River on Highway 1 and the first stop is the tiny town of Elk, the town with two names! Originally dubbed Greenwood, the town changed its name to Elk when the first post office opened in 1887. Stay at the Elk Cove Inn where selfie spots abound in the gardens, gazebo, and cliffs. Make sure to capture the sea stacks off Cuffey’s Cove that give the coastline here its distinctive look. Visit the Elk Store for a fine selection of locally made goods, wines, and great lunchtime sandwiches for a picnic on the beach.
City of 10,000 Buddhas
Just to the east of Ukiah is the tranquil oasis of the City of 10,000 Buddhas, one of the largest Buddhist centers in the U.S. Stroll the grounds where resident peacocks strut their stuff and you might find yourself at the crossroads of Patience and Bodhi (which means “enlightenment”) or other of the Buddhist inspired street signs. This is a place to observe and drink in the atmosphere. Step into the Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas where handmade Buddhas line the walls from floor to ceiling. Top off the day with a visit to Vichy Springs Resort and soak your cares away in the “champagne” baths.
Top of the Light!
For the ultimate 360-degree selfie with a view, climb the 115 feet to the top of the Point Arena Lighthouse, the tallest lighthouse on the West coast of the United States. From your perch above the cliffs, on a clear day you can see forever — the lighthouse is the closest location on the mainland (excluding Alaska) to Honolulu, HI at a distance of 2,353 miles! While you’re here admiring the view, call Unbeaten Path Tours for a hiking tour of the Point Arena-Stornetta Lands. Margaret knows all there is to know about the area, its geology, biology, and the very best place to take some selfies!
Skunk Train (Willits)
Photo opps are all around when you climb aboard the back of the Skunk for a ride through the redwood forest! Make your debut in the outdoor viewing car for the best views. As the train climbs the steep slope to the top of the line, take a selfie with the Train Singer, Greg Schindel, whose repertoire of train songs is limitless! Get ready with your flash for the ride through Tunnel No. 2. The train then descends into the Noyo River Canyon with a stop at Northspur, where you can pose with an ancient redwood tree!
Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree
The ultimate selfie spot is in Leggett in northern Mendocino County.A legend for more than 80 years, the Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree provided selfie moments for families before we even knew what a selfie was!! Drive into the park and admire this giant specimen that stands 315 feet high and whose girth measures 69.5 feet! Most vehicles will fit in the 21 foot diameter opening but if yours doesn’t, park and take your pic. While you’re in the top of the county, stop in at Confusion Hill to experience a shift in gravity!
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