The Inn at Newport Ranch: The Jewel of the Mendocino Coast
Encompassing seven different microclimates along the Mendocino coast, a visit to The Inn at Newport Ranch feels like a several adventures in one. In December, another member of the team and myself were able to visit the ranch, one of our favorite partners and friends of All Roads North. The 15-room property enjoys a captivating perch on the Mendocino coastal cliffs, facing down against the endless, blue Pacific horizon. But the coastal views are just one of the ranch’s many facets.
On our first full day at the property, Otis took us on an ATV tour of the grounds.
“It’s like having your own private state park,” Otis said. Having worked at the property for many years, Otis is an Inn at Newport Ranch legend and pretty much an encyclopedia of local information. From the the legacy of the local Indigenous peoples, to tales of area’s history as the small logging town of Newport, to stories about the property’s wildest past guests– each story was more fascinating than the last.
The Rocky Mendocino Coast
Our ATV expedition began at the main lodge, set on cliffs overlooking the sea on a bluff of coastal prairie. Cattle graze in their pastures beyond the accommodation structures. Aside from the main lodge, where the dining room and three guest rooms are located, there are four other stand alone cabins for guest lodging. Most are clustered closely together, but the owner’s house, Sea Drum, offers more seclusion and an unbelievable view of the ocean. The name of the four bedroom house pays homage to the waves hitting the cliff just below.
We skirted along the property’s 1.5 miles of coastline. The cliffs gave way to pristine, turquoise ocean, to secret beaches, and according to Otis, the watery home of seals, kingfish, king crab and even 18-foot great white sharks. Set against the drastic edge of one vista, there was a vast kettle suspended by chains over a fire pit, the perfect setting for the Viking themed wedding that had recently taken place there. During certain seasons, humpback whales swim to the foot of the cliffs and rub barnacles off their backs. Leatherback sea turtles, orcas, and gray whales are just a few other visitors known to pass through.
Foraging in the Forest and Planting Redwood Trees
We left the ocean behind and turned our ATV to the riparian forest. Less than a mile from the coast, we found ourselves in a different environment entirely. The tree cover dimmed the light, the earth smelled damp, and everything was verdantly green. The trees in this new microcosm– including douglas fir, alder, and big leaf maple trees– can handle the salty ocean air, and serve as a barrier between the iconic redwoods we would encounter later on.
We searched for mushrooms along the forest floor. Otis showed us which fungi to look for, how to cut off the dirt and debris with a harvesting knife, and gather them in wicker baskets. Those wishing to dive further into the experience have the opportunity to inoculate their own mushroom log, which they can then bring home and enjoy for days to come.
Heading further along the winding trail through the forest, towering redwoods began to come into view. Otis caught sight of wild bay leaves, which we added to our baskets for the ranch chef to use, then took a nibble of some redwood sorrel. It looked like clover, but had the tart-sweet tang of sour apple. Dining at the property often includes whatever foraged ingredients such as these that are brought into the kitchen.
Guests are invited to plant redwood seedlings to grow for future generations to enjoy. Of course, we didn’t pass up the chance to leave our mark with our own baby trees. Otis said that kids particularly enjoy this experience, with one rambunctious young lad naming his seedling “Destroyer of Carbon.” Planting redwoods, and the mushroom foraging for that matter, are both part of Otis’ weekly routine. Activities at The Inn at Newport Ranch aren’t gimmicks devised to entertain guests. Rather, visitors are invited into authentic ranch undertakings. I think that is what makes any experience incredibly rich: people can always sniff out what is orchestrated on their behalf and what is genuine.
After ascending to a mountainous high point overlooking the coast and forests we had just journeyed through, Otis pointed out how much farther the property’s boundaries stretched. We had barely scratched the surface of The Inn at Newport Ranch’s 2,000 acres. Next, it was back to the sea, where we enjoyed a turkey, brie and fig jam baguette at one of the property’s 15 picnic spots. As we nibbled on the sandwiches that Ranch staff had so kindly packed for us, the sun slowly sunk into the ocean and painted the sky in soft pinks and oranges. It was incredibly peaceful– not another person in sight and only the sound of the crashing waves as a backtrack.
Food and Family
Every day at The Inn at Newport Ranch ends with a complimentary happy hour by the lodge’s roaring fire, followed by an indulgent dinner in the redwood-accented dining room. The menu features local ingredients, including the mushrooms that we had foraged mere hours ago. There was even a candy cap mushroom-infused Old Fashioned on the menu! The minimal number of rooms means a minimal number of guests. As you recount your day by the fire or chat over breakfast, you quickly get to know the few other people who are staying. An easy sense of camaraderie quickly develops over the course of your stay– both with other guests and the staff.
In addition to the truly stunning scenery and diverse landscapes the property has to offer, that is probably how The Inn at Newport Ranch drew me in most. You leave truly feeling like you became a part of something special, if only for a short while. You become part of the family.
A stay at the Inn at Newport Ranch pairs well with: Sonoma and Mendocino: A Farm to Table Road Trip
Reach out to a Destination Specialist today to book your stay at the Inn at Newport Ranch, complete with customized experiences along the Mendocino coast with expert guides at the lead.