GAR: Day Seven – Eureka CA to Salem OR (386mi)

This morning, it was early to rise, and off toward Oregon. Our first stop was the Redwood National and State Park.

We got to the Kuchel Visitor Center right as it opened, and started asking questions about what to do in the park. We were pointed to Elk Meadow, and true to its name, we saw a dozen elk feasting in the meadow. They were beautiful to see in their natural habitat. Of course, we have these at Lone Elk SP at home, but the addition of the vistas in the park made viewing them spectacular.

Having been told by the rangers about Davison Road, we headed up it to Gold Bluffs Beach and Fern Canyon. However, before heading up the dirt/gravel road, we took the front tops off, and set off through the dense forest. The road was clear, but canopied with the tallest trees I’ve ever seen, with ferns of all types covering the forest floor. This place was green, green, green, and beautiful to drive through, especially with the tops off. We could look skyward — right through the missing roof — and enjoy the majesty of these giant trees.

Once we cleared the big hill, we descended to the beach, where we found a couple of large elk. I’ve never thought about elk being near the beach, but in this environment, that must be pretty normal. The beach was beautiful to drive along. As we continued down the path, there were a couple of small stream crossings… the Jeep finally had its toes in the water! Nothing deep, but fun nonetheless. Darla even got out and shot its first crossing.

Once we got to the end of the trail, we came to a walking trail into Fern Canyon. This canyon was mammoth, with walls that were more than thirty feet tall, and covered from top to bottom in ferns, with a small creek running in the bottom of the canyon. The rangers told us that some of this area was used to film one of the Jurassic Park films — the second one, I believe — and I could certainly see how that could be. This area looked prehistoric, and you could imagine a velociraptor cruising down the canyon pretty easily.

We doubled back, and continued north on the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway. This is the old road through the park, and was lined with giant redwoods on either side, with plenty of turnouts to stop and enjoy them. After that drive, we had ended up spending just under four hours in the park, with the biggest part of the day’s drive ahead of us.

We continued up toward Crescent City, and found a little turnout next to a beach covered in rich, black sand. This little cove had loads of dark rocks jutting from the water, and I’m sure the wearing of those rocks by the waves created the sand we walked on. It was here that Sio finally got to dip her toes in the Pacific Ocean… it was cold! We played on the beach for a while, and continued on up the beach.

Once we got to Crescent City, we stopped on the shore, and ate at a little place called The Chart House Restaurant. This was a classic seaside dive — you could almost imagine the fisherman coming here to celebrate their catch. Their claim to fame was a beer battered fish, and it really lived up the billing. Really, really tasty and light. I could’ve eaten two orders easily!

On up the coast we went, crossing from California to Oregon, watching the redwoods dwindle, and the landscape change as we moved inland. We finally got to Salem — late — did our laundry, and crashed … late.