California Redwoods: The Soul of Mendocino
California’s redwoods are more than local celebrities– they are the lifeblood of the Mendocino region in Northern California. There’s no question the trees are physically impressive. Standing as high as 379 feet, California redwoods are the tallest trees in the world. These peaceful giants have watched hundreds of generations go by, living as long as 2,000 years, making them the oldest living organisms on earth. But no amount of factoids or photos can prepare you for the sense of awe felt when you encounter them in person. Walking through a redwood grove, there is a peaceful, transcendent sense of stepping outside of time. Many even describe time among redwoods as a spiritual experience.
The Legacy of the Redwoods
Traveling throughout the Mendocino region of Northern California, the California redwood legacy can be seen and felt intimately everywhere you go. For thousands of years, the trees were an important part of the cultural and spiritual identity of local Indigenous communities. For example, some tribes believed that the trees had the power to heal and protect them, while others saw them as the dwelling places of powerful spirits or deities. Generations of wisdom passed down in these Indigenous communities resulting in an intimate connection to the land and a deep understanding of the redwood forest ecology.
Redwoods also fueled the beginnings of Western development in the area, through logging communities. At one point, redwoods covered over two million acres of California, but logging and development have reduced their range to less than 113,000 acres. However, conservation efforts in recent decades have helped protect and preserve many of the remaining redwood forests. Save the Redwoods League is one of the most prominent non-profits you can support in pursuit of this cause. Since 1918, the league has worked to protect and restore redwood forests, as well as connect people to their peace and beauty. If not for this organization’s advocacy, it is likely that several protected redwoods forests that we enjoy today would have been fully logged.
The Inn at Newport Ranch, a boutique accommodation perched on the Mendocino cliffs, is a beautiful picture of this transformation in redwood stewardship. Before The Inn at Newport Ranch, there was Newport– a small town that sprouted around a logging community in 1865. Ships would brashly navigate the rocks and pounding waves against the cliff to empty new residents onto the shores and load timber for trading. The logging industry left town two decades later, and farmers took their place. Now, the bones of an old farmhouse form the core of the main lodge at this newly-constructed inn. The property, comprising 2,000 acres, plants redwood seedlings daily to do their part in restoring the redwood forests. In fact, guests are offered the unique opportunity to plant their own baby tree for generations to come during any excursion into the redwoods.
Unique Ways to Experience the Redwoods
Ever present in these northern regions, All Roads North can curate several unique ways to experience the California redwoods during your journey. For foodies, we’d recommend enjoying a Michelin-starred fine dining experience in a former redwood showroom at The Harbor House Inn. Inhabiting an enchanting cove of the Mendocino coast, the dining room of the 11-room boutique inn is paneled with redwood. The house was built in 1916 by the Goodyear Redwood Company as a place to entertain buyers and showcase their product. The menu invites guests to experience the region through local flavors, with all of the produce sourced either from the on-site garden or a farm just 25 minutes away.
For those more prone to active adventure, we’ll arrange a private guide to lead an excursion snowshoeing through the redwoods. The contrast of the red bark and white snow and the added layer of wintery quiet only amplify the forest’s awe-inspiring timelessness. If you’d rather get out on the water during more temperate months, we’ll arrange a paddle on Big River in a redwood outrigger canoe, made by a local artisan who has been handcrafting the outriggers for 30 years. You’ll likely share the tranquil, misty morning with not a soul but the local wildlife: river otters, harbor seals, and a variety of birds from ospreys to herons.
You can also further tap into the healing aura of the California redwoods and focus on your wellness with Shinrin-Yoku, or a privately guided forest bathing experience. Shinrin Yoku is the Japanese practice of healing and wellness through immersion in nature, leading to reconnection with our environments and ourselves. For this experience you will be guided into the forest, using walking, visual and breath meditation to activate your senses. Not only is the experience calming and restoring, forest bathing has been shown to boost immunity and reduce stress.
Whether you are interested in experiencing the iconic California redwoods through the lens of history, fine dining, wellness or adventure, there are endless personalized experiences our Travel Specialists can dream up to create a truly special experience suited to your interests. Reach out today to start planning your dream journey to the Mendocino coast.
Mendocino Itinerary Inspiration: Sonoma and Mendocino: A Farm to Table Road Trip