Northern California May 09, 2021
The Ultimate Northern California Hidden Gem Road Trip Will Take You To 10 Incredible Little-Known Spots In The State
Are you ready to uncover some of Northern California’s greatest hidden gems? We sure hope you are, because this road trip is not messing around! Spanning 870 miles for a total trip time of 18 hours, this road trip is perfect for a long weekend (or an entire week if you want to take your time.) It will take you to caverns, waterfalls, bridges, beaches, mines, and so much more. There’s something for everyone, so gather the family and hit the road for this epic adventure.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life. While we continue to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, please take proper precautions or add them to your bucket list to see at a later date. If you know of a local business that could use some extra support during these times, please nominate them here:
For an interactive map of the road trip that you can customize to your liking, click
1. Fern Canyon
First up, we're starting off our adventure at the magical destination that is Fern Canyon. Tucked away in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, this lush canyon never ceases to amaze. From the fern and moss-covered canyon walls to the elegant stream of water that flows through the narrow canyon, Fern Canyon is one of Northern California's greatest natural wonders. It's the perfect place to start this unforgettable adventure! Learn more about it
2. Battery Point Lighthouse
Next, we're headed north to Crescent City where we'll visit the incredible Battery Point Lighthouse. Constructed in 1856, Battery Point was one of the very first lighthouses on the California coast - pretty impressive, right? It even survived a tsunami caused by the 1964 Alaska earthquake, the strongest earthquake ever recorded in the northern hemisphere. The lighthouse is open to the public daily from April through September and on weekends only from October through March. The lighthouse even includes a museum where you can get a glimpse at what life was like for a lighthouse keeper back in the day.
3. Lava Beds National Monument
For the next stop on the trip, we're headed to the northeastern corner of the state to visit a vastly underrated national monument. Located in Siskiyou and Modoc counties, Lava Beds National Monument is a fascinating treasure that's worth going out of your way to explore. Home to more than 800 lava tubes, 25 of which have marked entrances and developed trails, this is a great place to explore a side to Northern California that few have seen. Additionally, you'll find Native American rock art, historic battlefields, and high-desert campsites all waiting for you at this remote national park. Learn more about this geologic wonder and what you'll find here by checking out our
4. Faery Falls
After Lava Beds, we'll start heading south towards Mount Shasta to see the incredible Faery Falls. This waterfall may not be as well-known as some others in the area, but it's a beautiful attraction that does not disappoint. You'll find it tucked away in Ney Springs Canyon, where you'll also find the long-abandoned remnants of a hot spring resort! The short, 1.5-mile hike is a relatively easygoing hike that's suitable for all skill levels. At the end, you'll be treated to a front-facing view of this brilliant cascade as it plummets 50 feet into the pool below. Read all about the hike
5. Lake Shasta Caverns National Natural Landmark
After enjoying the tranquil views of Faery Falls, we'll head straight to one of the most unique landscapes that NorCal has to offer. Lake Shasta Caverns is located in the foothills of Mt. Shasta. As the West's newest National Natural Landmark, this is a one-of-a-kind adventure that a lot of people don't even know about! The two-hour tour of the caverns is like three adventures in one, as it consists of a boat ride across Shasta Lake, a scenic bus tour, and a guided tour of the mindblowing caverns underneath the surface. Read more about this bucket list experience
6. Turtle Bay Exploration Park
After all that excitement at Lake Shasta Caverns, we're ready to take it easy with a visit to Turtle Bay Exploration Park in Redding. This 300-acre park and museum boast a scenic location along the banks of the Sacramento River. The different activities at the park bridge the relationship between humans and nature through a variety of educational exhibits. You could spend a whole day exploring the art exhibits, wildlife exhibits, Native American history, and California's largest North American butterfly house. Be sure to walk across the world-famous Sundial Bridge and enjoy a meal at the Turtle Bay Café, too. For more information about this family-friendly park, click
7. Empire Mine State Park
Now it's time to explore what California is most famous for: Gold! Empire Mine State Park is home to the oldest, deepest, and richest gold mines in all of California. Located in Grass Valley, the mine was in operation for longer than a century and extracted millions of ounces of gold before closing in 1956. At the park, visitors can explore old mine buildings, the owner's home and gardens, and the entrance to 367-miles of abandoned mine shafts. For a unique hike in the park that showcases the park's greatest relics, visit our previous article
8. Navarro River Redwoods State Park
No road trip through Northern California is complete without a visit to a redwood forest. On this trip, we're headed to Navarro River Redwoods State Park. As far as redwoods go, this is a lesser-known park where you can enjoy the majestic beauty of these giant trees in peace and quiet. Explore the rolling hills of Anderson Valley and enter an 11-mile-long "redwood tunnel to the sea." along Highway 128. Then, take your time picnicking, camping, hiking, or just soaking in the otherworldly beauty. There's no place like the redwoods!
9. Manchester State Park
After getting our fill of redwoods, we'll head to the beach for some much-needed coastal beauty. Manchester State Park is located in Mendocino County and it's a magnificent place to relax and enjoy the view of ocean waves. Featuring a beach, sand dunes, and flat grasslands, it's easy to lose track of time in such a scenic destination. The park is popular for its variety of coastal wildflowers and excellent steelhead fishing in both Brush Creek and Alder Creek.
10. Sonoma Canopy Tours
Finally, we'll end our road trip with a bang at Sonoma Canopy Tours in Occidental. This adventure park is an absolute blast and it's bound to get your adrenaline pumping. Take on zip lines, sky bridges, and spiral staircases to explore the treetops. They even offer a Night Flight Tour for an unforgettable experience underneath the starry sky! Check out our
to learn more about Sonoma Canopy Tours and the adventures they have to offer.
What do you think? Are you ready to tackle the Ultimate Northern California Hidden Gem Road Trip? Let us know what stop looks most interesting to you in the comments below!
Address: Fern Canyon, California 95555, USA Address: 235 Lighthouse Way, Crescent City, CA 95531, USA Address: 1 Indian Well Hqts, Tulelake, CA 96134, USA Address: Faery Falls, California 96067, USA Address: 20359 Shasta Caverns Rd, Lakehead, CA 96051, USA Address: 844 Sundial Bridge Drive, Redding, CA 96003, USA Address: 10791 E Empire St, Grass Valley, CA 95945, USA Address: Elk, CA 95432, USA Address: 44500 Kinney Rd, Manchester, CA 95459, USA Address: 6250 Bohemian Hwy, Occidental, CA 95465, USA