Mendocino County, California

By | December 9, 2022

The wild and impetuous Pacific coast of Northern California with the mighty redwood trees excites Central Europeans with great enthusiasm, because here a feeling of vastness, closeness to nature and violence of the mightiest ocean on planet earth really comes into its own. There is much more to see here than just that. Hardly any region in California is more diverse than Mendocino Country: hundreds of kilometers of hiking trails, lakes, meadows, forests and last but not least – a first-class wine country that invites its visitors, the noble ones tasting drops.

So what’s happening north of San Francisco can hardly be more different. And that although the small fishing village of 900 souls is named after the whole district, it is hard to imagine what is hidden here.

According to TOPSCHOOLSINTHEUSA, Mendocino’s Founding Fathers arrived from New England in 1852 and built hamlets based on East Coast architecture. Therefore, the stretch of coast is often referred to as “California’s New England”. However, the county is named after Cape Mendocino, which is no longer located in this district, but already belongs to Humboldt County to the north.

Location and size
The approximately 10,000 square kilometer Mendocino County – on the Pacific coast – is located in northern California and borders Sonoma County in the south and Humboldt County in the north.

Getting there
Road 1 is along the coast, road 101 is inland. Both cross the county in a north-south direction. The nearest international airport is Oakland (OAK) about 3 hours drive away. San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is also about a 3 to 3.5 hour drive away.

Mendocino has a cool Mediterranean summer climate. Summers are characterized by frequent fog and highs. In winter, frost and snow is possible due to the proximity to the Pacific Ocean. It can rain in autumn, winter, spring and possibly early summer.

Average temperatures in Mendocino County, California
Month Jan Feb March Apr May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Max 12 16 17 22 27 31 35 33 31 26 17 13
Min 3 5 6 8th 10 13 15 14 13 10 6 3

Sights along the coast

Gualala: Bordering southern Sonoma County, this coastal community of 2,000 is a home to numerous artists and is also known among kayakers for paddling along the Gualala River. Secluded Anchor Bay is surrounded by dense forest and has the best climate in the county. The Anchor Bay Campgrounds, opened in 1925, lie behind the 800 meter wide beach.

Point Arena: With a population of around 450, Point Arena is one of the smallest cities in the USA. The lighthouse worth seeing in the town of Point Arena Lighthouse is the point on the American mainland (excluding Alaska) that is closest to Hawaii. The distance is 3,787 km. From the lighthouse you have a breathtaking panoramic view of the area. Worth seeing is the Point Arena-Stornetta National Monument – with its pristine coastal landscape. If you like hiking with experts, contact Unbeaten Paths Toursand is guided to the most interesting parts including geological hotspots as well as top photo motifs. If you like diving, you’ve come to the right place: Arena Rock Underwater Preserve offers divers not only insights into the living underwater world, but also a real shipwreck.

There are other state parks along the coast – such as Manchester State Park with a large and long beach or Greenwood State Park near the popular wedding town of Elk at the mouth of Howard Creek. Albion is dominated by two bridges – one over the Albion River (which is actually the last wooden bridge on all of Route 1, and the other over Little Salmon Creek.

The small hill on the north side of the small bay in Little River offers great panoramas . Here, where the big waves break, divers bring the highly sought-after abalone (abalone) ashore – and in season, migrating whales can be spotted. There are seals all year round.

Mendocino: Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this small town that still retains the charm of a fishing village sits on a rocky plateau high above the Pacific Ocean. Numerous historic buildings have now been converted into small accommodations. Also worth seeing are the beautiful gardens of the cute little houses from the 19th century and the old red church with the stained glass panes. The Point Cabrillo lighthouse has stood on the coast between Mendocino and Caspar since 1909. The small town of Caspar with its two beaches – Caspar Beach in the south and Jug Handle Beach in the north, was named after the German farmer Siegfried Caspar, who settled here in 1857.

Fort Bragg & Noyo Harbor : Fort Bragg, with a population of around 7,000, is by far the largest coastal settlement in Mendocino County. The town was founded in 1857 as a military post office and opened to white settlers almost ten years later. In 1889 it was elevated to the status of a city. Worth seeing here is the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens , which is sure to delight botany enthusiasts: 19 hectares not only have numerous wildflowers and primeval forests, but also gigantic rhododendrons. A whimsical attraction is Glass Beach: large quantities of glass shards from a former landfill, worn away by wind and surf, have washed up here and enchant the beach into a colorful jigsaw puzzle. In the small town of CleoneA path leads to MacKerricher State Park – the former Mendocino Indian Reservation. Today, this park is very popular with nature lovers because of the good whale watching opportunities. Numerous species of seabirds and seals are also native. North of Fort Bragg begins a sparsely populated stretch of coast that extends to the northern border of the county.

Inland Attractions
(along Highway 128 and 101)

Redwood Corridor: The so-called Redwood Corridor follows the two state routes 128 through the Yorkville Highlands to the Anderson Valley or the north-south running 101 along the Russian River through Hopland and Ukiah , the cultural centers of the county. The region is very popular as a camping and excursion destination because of its climate. The district’s wine-growing region is also located here. The preferred variety is the Pinot Noir.

Hopland: Worth seeing in Hopland is the Solar Living Institute – a non-profit center for renewable energy with a children’s playground. In the surroundings of Hopland there are not only numerous wine cellars – with tasting possibilities – but also olive oil and sparkling wine.

Ukiah: The administrative center of the county is located here in the largest city with around 16,000 inhabitants. Ukiah was once called California’s best small town – and is still considered one of the most livable cities in the Golden State. Worth seeing is the Grace Hudson Museum and Sun House – which offers an insight into the life story and work of the artist Grace Carpenter Hudson. In the surroundings of Lake Mendocino is the trek to the Buddhist center City of the 10,000 Buddhas (City of 10,000 Buddhas).

Known since the days of adventurer and writer Jack London, Vichy Springs are to the east of Ukiah. The only hot springs of this type in the USA have been in use since 1854. A hotel and resort is located here.

In the heart of Mendocino County lies Willits , the gateway to the redwoods”. The small town houses the Medocino County Museum with around 10,000 objects on the history of this part of the country. In the Roots of Motive Power museum , historic steam and diesel-powered machines that were used here in wood processing are being restored and exhibited. Willits is an excellent starting point for excursions along the Eel River . The almost 320 km long Eel River, which flows from the Coast Ranges to Humboldt Bay, offers untouched river landscapes at its finest. Willits is also considered the starting point for drives to the redwoods.

Skunk Train: One of Mendocino County’s great attractions is the Skunk Train , which is more than 130 years old . The line was built in 1885 solely to transport lumber to the Fort Bragg Lumber Mill, and was then expanded in 1903 for passenger service. The steam-powered heritage railway between the towns of Fort Bragg on the coast and Willits inland runs first through Pudding Creek and after the first tunnel along the Noyo River, which it crosses several times. To date, there are hardly any parallel roads, so that the train journey actually leads through untouched landscape. The road connection between Fort Bragg and Willits on State Route 20 follows an entirely different route.

Sacramento River Train: The Sacramento River Train is a local, family business dedicated to preserving a piece of Northern California history. The approximately 22-kilometer-long railway line runs from West Sacramento to Woodland and travels at a maximum of 25 km/h. Various excursions with dinner and local wine or beer tasting are offered.

Laytonville, Piercy and Legett are small towns created by logging. Legget has a very special attraction here: The Chandelier Drive Thru Tree. In the 1930s, a tunnel that could be driven on by cars was cut into the 2,400-year-old sequoia, which is around 96 meters high. East of Highway 101 is the approximately 3,700 km2 Mendocino National Forest that stretches across the county line.

Food Festivals
January: Crab, Wine & Beer Festival – 10-day gourmet festival
February: International Alsace Varietals Festival – wine festival in the Anderson Valley
May: Legendary Boonville Beer Fest – beer and pub festival on the first Saturday of May in the village of Boonville; Pinot Noir Festival – in the Anderson Valley
June: Taste of Downtown Ukiah – music, wine and beer in Ukiah
July: World’s Largest Salmon Barbecue – on the first Saturday in July at Noyo Harbor in Fort Bragg
August: Blackberry Festival – blackberry crafts and delicacies
September: Winesong – Wine Auction at the Mendocino Botanical Gardens; Harbor & Seafood Festival – Fresh seafood in all variations; Beer, Bison and Bluegrass Festival – Music and Food
Fest October: Abalone Cook-Off & Festival – Abalone take center stage at this festival with stalls and live music at Noyo Harbor
November: Mushroom, Wine & Beer Festival – 10 day wine and beer festival

Mendocino County, California