If you want to see some of the most spectacular, diverse outdoor settings, you should plan a visit to Northern California. Far from the glitz of LA and the excitement of San Francisco, the north part of the California Coast is blissfully free of development, giving you plenty of room to wander and explore.
A California coast vacation is a great way to take in the majesty and remote beauty of Northern California. Along Highway 1, there are dozens of state parks with beach access and campsites. Towards the west, Northern California really shines. If you're taking a scenic drive down highway 1, be prepared to be awed.
If you're driving south on Highway 1, you will experience the most heart pounding moment of your driving career on the California Coast. On your left, you have oncoming traffic and sheer cliff walls. On your right, occasionally you will see a strategically placed guardrail, which is the only barrier between you and a long fall down to the cold waters of the Pacific. Trying to focus on the road while you pass the stunning views of the Pacific is a feat. This is definitely one of the most exciting parts of a California Coast vacation, for both the driver and the passenger.
Some of the mountain passes in Northern California can be just as scary. If you're smart, you'll have planned when to go. Many of these roads are closed in the winter but are fair game in summer, and there is still some snow around if you really want to see some. Adventurous types might see a new road going further up the mountain. Only the boldest drives would dare to tempt fate and test these logging roads, which are often covered in debris like sticks and small rocks. The lack of guardrails, logging trucks filled with enormous trunks, and thousands of feet of nothing on side might make you turn around and get back on the main road. The mountain passes are just as hair-raising as California Coast travel south on Highway 1.
The north part of the state has remote backcountry areas where you can explore areas like Mt Lassen Volcanic Park, which has sulfurous pool and steaming vents. Set in the Lassen National Forest, you can grab a map at the visitor center that will show you the route for the scenic byway. Mt Shasta has an interesting reputation among area locals and the native tribes who ascribe mysterious powers to the mountain. Mt Shasta is not actually part of the Sierra Nevada, it is considered part of the Cascades Mountain range, most of which is in Washington. Shasta is not extremely active one, but it is a volcano.
There are tons of National Parks and Forests in Northern California. On the California Coast, the Mendocino Forest drapes the highway in a deep green cloak that begins to block the suns rays early in the afternoon. Near the border with Oregon, you can explore the beauty of the Klamath National Forest on the State of Jefferson scenic byway. This is a great opportunity to see the over 100 types of mammals that live here.
California coast travel can take you through Giant redwoods, through marine sanctuaries, and along the country's best beaches. Northern California has some of the most pristine, secluded areas of the state, so this will definitely be one of the most spectacular, thrilling, parts of California Coast travel.