‘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?
Whether you’re safely watching a storm roll in from your oceanview seat at Ole’s Whale Watch bar at the Little River Inn, cozied up next to your fireplace at Glendeven Inn & Lodge, or reveling in the elements on Van Damme State Beach, the north coast of Mendocino County is the perfect place to experience weather. There’s something exhilarating about the crash of waves on the shore and the wild sweep of the ocean.
The Inn at Newport Ranch
Just north of Fort Bragg, the Inn at Newport Ranch is set on 2,000 acres of clifftop, ranch and forest land. On stormy days, settle in next to the giant boulder-clad fireplace and sip a hot toddy 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 take a short drive to Pacific Star Winery, perched on the cliffs just outside Westport.
Orr Hot Springs & The Redwoods
Essential to the magnificent redwood groves that dot the Mendocino County landscape are the winter rains and fog that shroud 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!
Brewery Gulch Inn
Winter storms on the north coast can be epic. And where better to watch the forces of Mother Nature shape the rugged landscape than from the buttoned-up comfort of the Brewery Gulch Inn. Snuggle up by the fire in the Great Room with your current favorite read, or wrap yourself in an alpaca blanket and watch the rain. See first-hand what locals know … winter is the best season. Join the inn’s Stormchasers Club by signing up and in addition to receiving email alerts regarding approaching storms, enjoy special savings and perks available only to club members.
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 thrilling 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 visitors 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.
The town of Elk may be tiny but it boasts some mighty fine storm-watching spots from vantages ranging from clifftops to beaches. At the Elk Cove Inn, snag a front row seat in one of their oceanside rooms or venture down to the beach below. Browse the offerings at Matson Mercantile and the Artist’s Collective or pick up some snacks at the Elk Store before heading to the Michelin-starred Harbor House Inn where the calming atmosphere belies the storm outside.