‘Tis the season when the winter storms start to roll in from the Pacific. There’s something utterly thrilling to watch (or be caught in) a whirlwind of rain and bluster that, at its finish, brings a sense of calm. With coastline galore and the rugged mountains of the Mendocino Range, the county is just the place to watch the storms take shape.
We have some favorite places to ride out the storm… where are yours?
The Inn at Newport Ranch
Just north of Fort Bragg is the Inn at Newport Ranch set on 2,500 acres of clifftop, ranch and forest land. On stormy days, settle in next to the giant boulder-clad fireplace and sip on local wines while watching the waves crash against the shoreline. For the ultimate storm watch experience, venture outside to the 360-degree view hot tub perched on top of the main house. When the storms subside, check out the surf from the back of a horse with a tour from Ricochet Ridge Ranch or simply relax in the Fireside Spa… ah!
Orr Hot Springs & The Redwoods
Essential to the magnificent redwood groves that dot the Mendocino County landscape are the winter rains and fog that shrouds the landscape. And one of the loveliest redwood “cathedrals” is Montgomery Woods, just a short drive from Orr Hot Springs located between Ukiah and the coast on Orr Springs Road. When the rains start to fall, the springs start to rise filling the resort with the soothing sound of running water. Check in for a night or two and brave the rains in one of the stargazing tubs perched atop the Bathhouse building. When the night skies clear, the views are incomparable!
Point Arena Lighthouse
With a 360-degree view of the ocean, coastal meadows, and mountains to the east, the top of the Point Arena Lighthouse is a truly exhilarating place to ride out a winter storm! Standing 115 feet tall, this iconic beacon has been shining through rain, wind and fog since 1908. Intrepid isitors with an eye for adventure can visit in the rain, climb the 145 steps to the top, and revel in nature’s fury! Once the winds have subsided, return to ground level and take a hike on the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands, the only land-based portion of the 1,100-mile California Coastal Monument.
Van Damme State Park
The coastal area of the county is rich with parks with a diversity of landscapes. From the Ecological Staircase at Jug Handle State Park to the waterfall at Russian Gulch, visitors can explore environments ranging from coastal beaches to redwood groves and fern canyons, which are almost prehistoric when dripping with rain. For a day of exploration and experience, park the car at Van Damme State Beach and take in the wind-whipped ocean. Then cross Highway 1 for a walk through the park’s Fern Canyon to the Pygmy Forest. A new area to explore is Spring Ranch, perched on the cliffs just north of Van Damme Beach. Bed down for the night at the Glendeven Inn or cozy up at Ole’s Whale Watch Bar at the Little River Inn.
Raging Waves from the Inn at Newport Ranch
Stargazing Tubs at Orr Hot Springs
Van Damme Walk in the Wild