The Avenue of the Giants off Highway 101 in Humboldt State Park is a ride not to miss if you can. These tall, gnarly trees look beautiful from every angle whether standing or lying on the forest floor, roots on display to the world in a fantastic twisty show of earth, ferns and organic matter. The road trails through the most stunning forest of redwoods you are ever likely to see along the side of the Eel River. You will see open alluvial plains and meadows but it still a road so there is the hum of traffic .
Rockefeller Forest is the largest remaining old growth redwood forest in the world which is less than 17,000 acres with one of my top runs of my trip along the Bull Creek Flats South trail straight from the Albee Campground about a 11 mile round trip through a mesmerizing landscape of chunky trees that will hopefully outlive all of us. The bumpy, narrow Mattole Road leading to the campground follows the flat through five miles of old growth and is one of the world’s best redwood drives. The largest trees in the park are found here; of the world’s ten tallest trees, three are on Bull Creek Flats, although their exact location is a secret.
Not only so you get to see some of the tallest in the world but you are also very close to the “Lost Coast”.
The Lost Coast was one of few areas along the California coast that the highways people thought they ought to leave alone and not build a road through it, subsequently it is a wild piece of coastline with a few access roads and lots of hiking trials. The most famous is the Lost Coast Coastal Trail which is about 64 miles with camping and water along the way. Unfortunately the amount of wild fires in the area made this a less than desirable hike for us! You don’t have to hike all of this and can break it down into smaller hikes of course. There are also mountain biking trails which are due to be ready by autumn 2008 too.
How to get there
This is 45 miles south of Eureka and 20 miles north of Garberville off of Highway 101.
Where to Stay
We loved No.33 in Albee Campground. This campground is much more remote than the others in the park and has tonnes of trails straight from the campground. This site looks out across a meadow which has a little apple orchard in it – a favourite of the local black bears in late season.
For a place that has alot of songs about it Albuquerque is not much to shout home about. The town is a bit of a sprawl and I was unimpressed by the historic old town which was a handful of streets selling all that damn turquoise jewelry and bad clothes. However, the sunsets were pretty amazing and the full hook-up High Desert RV park we parked up at was cheap at $18 a night and backed onto desert scrub which made for some great sandy jogging. So after a minimal sampling of the town’s delights we hot the road to go and see the much more dramatic and beautiful Sante Fe.
Sante Fe, nestled in the foothills of the Sangre Christie mountains seems to have everything, a stunning landscape, access to great hiking, biking and ski trails and endless sunny days. This is a city that looks like no other due to the zoning codes of 1958 that rules that all new structures are based on the pueblo style adobe structures which are essentially mud and straw. So the center of the city and the structures up into the mountains are for the most part beautiful organic, natural structures that just sit in the landscape beautifully. This is a green city with tree lined streets and a beautiful European style feel to it where people hangout having coffee, go to the museums and check out the endless art galleries lining the streets. We happened upon the Lisa Kristine Gallery with some of the most evocative photo’s I have ever seen of indigenous people from all over the world in dramatic landscapes and settings. Sante Fe still has it’s sprawl and speaking to one of the locals it seems that those that live in the zoned area boast about never ever going down to Cerrillos Road which is the pure americiana with mall after faceless mall. But having spent a week there I found it to be one of the few places in the US that I think I could live. We camped up in the pine forested mountains in Black Canyon Campground which is only 8 miles up the mountain from the plaza. It was a treat to be out of the RV parks and into the forest campgrounds where you have space to breathe, watch the light sparkle through the pine, make campfires and be a little closer to the wildlife. The campground is situated really close to the trails, in fact there is a great 1 mile loop out the back of the campground that served as a great jogging trail (if you did a few loops). The Chamisa trail which is a 5 mile round trip was a real treat too for either hiking, biking or jogging but unfortunately for us some cold weather weather came in for a few days. There is so much to do around Sante Fe, with Bandelier National Monument only an hour away if you want to see some pre-historic cliff dwellings that are some of the oldest remains found in the US today.
I can see why the iconic Georgia O’Keefe adopted New Mexico as her home and painted the landscapes, the bleached bones and the hearts of flowers for many years out at Ghost Ranch just north of Sante Fe. New Mexico with it’s history, the colour and shape of the land, the trees, the flowers, the light and the big starry nights do start to take a hold of you. And from the words of Georgia herself…
“It is not a country of light on things. It is a country of things in light.”
How to get there
You can fly to Albuquerque and hire a car to drive an hour north on the I-25
Where to Stay
We stayed at Black Canyon Campground however there is a bunch of camping and accommodation options to chose from from boondocking in Walmart to these campgrounds http://wow.gosantafe.com/campgrounds/