After one of the best and most tiring weeks, Dylan and I needed to take a bit of a breather this week 🥱. Although we ended up seeing a lot of things during the week, we took everything really slowly and we didn’t try to do any big excursions. However, we ended up seeing two national parks, one state park, and plenty of waterfalls as we continued our drive through Northern California.
We have spent a total of six weeks in California this year in the van, which has been amazing. Until you travel throughout the entire state, it’s hard to comprehend its vast size.
As we drove North, Dylan and I continued to marvel at how many different ecosystems and climates are in one state: from dry, arid deserts to the lush forests up North. It’s truly incredible and we were so lucky to have seen so much of it this year. I’m sure we will be back again one day, but for now read about our very last week in California this year!
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Table of Contents
What we did In Northern California
First, we started off our week by getting our life back in order. I’m sure that you have felt this after vacations or trips, but sometimes you just need to take a day or two for errands, cleaning, and getting back to routine. We spent Dylan’s last day off of Memorial Day Weekend doing laundry, going to Planet Fitness, and deep cleaning the van. It was much needed and felt relieving to start the work week on a fresh note.
That next day, we drove to Dylan’s cousin’s place for a quick visit. He has a wonderful home in Sacramento where he cultivates multiple projects including 3-D printing, gardening, raising chickens, and building things. It was really nice to see him, sit on his back patio, and chat about life. We even got to stay on his street and used his house during the day to work. It was a sweet, short visit but we wanted to continue moving further North.
Redwoods National Park
After leaving the Sacramento area, we drove immediately to the beautiful redwood forests 🌳 that line the coast of Northern California. There are numerous state parks that are run cooperatively with the national park. It’s hard to even tell when one of the parks ends and the other begins.
We began by driving through the Avenue of the Giants in Humboldt State Park, where you’re surrounded by Redwoods on either side of you. That night it began to rain and it continued on into the next day. So, we decided to take it easy on our explorations of Redwoods National Park. (NP #35) We did a couple short trails at Trillum Falls and Lady Byrd Johnson Grove where we were surrounded by Redwoods on either side. We loved being amongst these tall giants, but we also just wanted to keep moving.
Unfortunately, on our way out of Redwoods National Park, we realized that we were very low on Gas. We barely had any service, but Google told me that there was a gas station 30 miles away. So, we made our way up a very mountainous and scenic road, until we got to the point where Google told us to turn. At the turn off, there was a spray painted tree with an arrow down the road. We were a little sketched out, but decided to risk it.
Luckily, the majority of the road traveled down the mountain, so we just kept our foot on the brake. We didn’t touch the gas pedal once! There was absolutely nothing around us until we turned a corner and came upon a huge black bear 🐻! As soon as the bear heard us, it sprinted away. By the time we made it to the gas station, our fuel was so low that it didn’t even say the mileage range. But we were able to get fuel and continue on our journey. It was a very close call!
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Unfortunately, the rain continued into our visit to Lassen Volcanic National Park (#35). This park is one of the few places in the world where you can see all four types of volcanoes and is home to the famous Lassen Peak. This volcano is one of the largest Plug volcanoes in the entire world! We were hoping to see a lot of the landscape but things got in our way. It was incredibly rainy, most of the park was still snow covered, and much of it was closed due to the effects from the Dixie forest fire last year.
Luckily, we were still feeling a bit tired from our last week, so it was a good excuse to rest. We drove the scenic road through the park 🚗, stopping along the way at the geothermal sights, and taking a quick stroll to Manzanita Lake. Although, we were incredibly impressed with the things we did see, we both agreed that we would need to make a return trip under better circumstances and later during summer time.
We continued our drive further into Northern California towards the Mt. Shasta. This area is well known for the towering mountain and the gorgeous natural landscapes that surround it. Because it was still very rainy, we decided to focus on visiting the waterfalls in the area. We knew that these falls would all still be beautiful even on a gloomy day.
First, we went to Burney Falls, one of the most beautiful waterfalls that I have ever seen. This falls streams over a lush cliff edge and forms multiple streams that run in various directions towards the bright blue pool below 💦. It was so nice to be able to walk just a few feet and be met by this remarkable sight. I felt the mist collect on my face and it felt so good. I would love to go back again just to hang for a whole day.
Then, we went to visit McCloud Falls, which is a series of three falls: Upper, Middle, and Lower. These falls are connected along one river. So, you can easily see them all by driving to the three parking areas. This was a great way for us to see new things without making a lot of effort.
After a long day of driving to sights, we decided it was time to call it a night and we searched for a place to stay. Luckily, we found a beautiful campsite ⛺️ secluded in the forest overlooking a rushing river below. It felt like the ideal location to sleep for the night, with only the river making noise. We ended up watching TV to wind down, which was the first time we had watched anything in more than three weeks! It was a great way to allow our brains to just unplug.
Faery Falls & Hedge Creek
That next morning, we woke to continue our journey North and see a couple more waterfalls along the way. We started by visiting Faery Falls, which is one of the quieter ones to visit. When we went, we had the entire area to ourselves, although I worried about bears. Don’t worry, we didn’t end up seeing any. Then, we drove to Hedge Creek Falls, a waterfall that trickles over a ledge. We were able to walk behind the falls and feel its mist on our faces.
Spending the weekend seeing gorgeous sights that took minimal effort was perfect for us. We needed the rest and were feeling recharged for the work week and crazy summer ahead of us. For now, it was time to head out of Northern California.
Where We Stayed
- Sacramento Cracker Barrel
- Outside Dylan’s cousin’s place
- Behind the Eureka Target by a river
- Walmart outside of Redding, CA
- Forest Spot in Shasta (41.29226,-122.36796)
Let me know in the comments if you enjoyed this van chronicles entry!
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