Del Norte County California Vacation Guide

California’s 1,200-square-mile Del Norte County is the northwesternmost county in the state. Home to small towns, stunning scenery, and friendly people, Del Norte provides a wealth of attractions and active pursuits for the visitor to far Northern California. Appropriately, Del Norte means “of the north” in Spanish and, indeed, this county offers the best of Northern California all rolled up into one neat package. Situated just below the border with Oregon, guests will be thrilled and surprised by all there is to see and do in this county of about 28,000 residents, from watersport fun on the Smith River and Klamath River to wildlife watching in Redwoods State and National Parks.

Crescent City

The largest and only incorporated city in Del Norte County is Crescent City. Also the county seat, Crescent City is named for the beautiful crescent-shaped stretch of Pacific Ocean beach located just south of the city. U.S. Route 101 runs directly through the town, making Crescent City easy to reach from any other parts of the county and state.

Crescent City is a pleasant place to make a stop while exploring the beautiful redwoods that surround the town. Many guests enjoy visiting Crescent City harbor, where they can go pleasure boating and participate in other watersports.

Crescent City is also a good base for exploring the Smith River, considered one of the greatest recreational rivers in the northern portion of the country. Smith River National Recreation Area, which is located just east of Jedediah Smith State Park, features 300,000 acres of wilderness and is a paradise for the avid outdoorsman. Here you can hike a fine system of trails, go fishing, kayak or whitewater raft, or enjoy some wild mountain biking.

Also in Crescent City, at the base of A Street, is the Battery Point Lighthouse, accessible on foot during low tide. If you’re fortunate enough to gain entry, you’ll enjoy a small but interesting museum dedicated to the history of Del Norte County.

Also visible from Crescent City is the magnificent St. George Reef Lighthouse, built in 1892 and active until 1975. Situated on an exposed rock just off the coast, this is one of the most photographed of all lighthouses in the U.S. and an important part of Del Norte County history.

Visitors might also make a stop at nearby Fort Dick or head to the Lake Earl Wildlife Area, considered to be one of California’s most productive wetlands areas. Lake Earl lies in the Smith River plain and, combined with neighboring Lake Tolowa, is actually considered to be a coastal lagoon, not a lake. More than 300 bird species have been spied here, along with 250 types of plants, 40 different species of mammals, and about 20 varieties of fish. The Lake Earl Wildlife Coastal Lagoon area is eco-touring at its best and a favorite with nature aficionados.


Smaller than Crescent City but worth a stop is the pretty town of Klamath. Touted as the place “where the redwoods and the river meet the ocean,” Klamath is a favorite stop for those traveling along Highway 101. Klamath is home to miles of rugged, picturesque beaches, the Klamath River – the second largest river in the state, magnificent giant redwoods, and plenty of great salmon and steelhead fishing. It’s also an ideal place for campers to stay, with about 1,200 campsites situated in the vicinity. Don’t miss the opportunity to jet boat or whitewater raft on the Klamath River, drive through a giant redwood, or visit the Trees of Mystery.


Lovely Gasquet, California is small but nevertheless a gem in Del Norte County’s crown. Located on the pristine Smith River, Gasquet is surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery in the state. A tiny but friendly town, Gasquet was founded in 1853 by a miner who recognized the need to provide other miners with a place they could call home. Located along Highway 199, a trip to Gasquet will provide an opportunity to explore the Middle and North Forks of the Smith River. This little town is also home to a number of local events and festivals, like town-wide BBQs, annual raft races, dances, and much more.

Next door to the Redwoods National Park, visitors can head to Six Rivers National Forest, one of Del Norte County’s other gems. Just as the name hints, six wild rivers – the Smith, Klamath, Trinity, Mad, Van Duzen, and Eel – flow through this picturesque forest. Most visitors agree that the Siskiyou Wilderness is the highlight of a trip to Six Rivers National Forest. Here you’ll find high peaks, pretty glacial lakes, and pristine meadows. Try the Clear Creek National Recreation Trail for good luck at this magical area.

Because large portions of Del Norte County are protected land, those looking for quiet, picturesque towns away from the crowds have begun to recognize the joys of living in this northernmost county. The real estate market in Del Norte County is sound and starting to grow as the advantages of raising a family in this picturesque and peaceful setting become evident.

Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park

Seven miles south of Crescent City, on Highway 101, you will find Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, which is a World Heritage Site and Biosphere Preserve

This park was established in 1929 and covers over 6400 acres with an abundance of old-growth coast redwood and approximately 8 miles of wild coastline. .

The park is full of wildlife. Salmon and steelhead are found in Mill Creek, and it is common to see Bobcat, coyote, bear, deer, squirrels, and chipmunks. Varieties of birds include Varied thrush, Stellar’s jays, hawks, great blue heron and dippers.

It’s rocky sea coast basically inaccessible except by Damnation Trail and Footsteps Rock trail. A short stretch of sandy beach known as Wilson Beach or False Klamath Cove is unsafe for swimming but provides opportunities to explore tide pools at low tide.

Trinidad State Beach

19 miles north of Eureka, California in the town of Trinidad, you will find Trinidad State Beach.

Tucked in a secluded cove near the town of Trinidad, this small sandy beach is a pleasant retreat from the traffic of nearby Highway 101. It is a short hike through the woods, across open bluffs, and past seasonal wildflowers down to the beach. There is a natural arch near the north end of the beach. Low tide is the best time to visit.

The beach offers restrooms, picnic area, parking areas, trails, an open grassy area, and spruce forest. The 1/2 mile trail to the beach drops 120 feet. This is a day-use only area.

Lake Earl State Park Project

Two miles north of Crescent City is Lake Earl State Park which is over 10,000 acres. Located on the Northern California coast, just below the Oregon border the park is full of lakes, wetlands, wooded hillsides, grassy meadows, sand dunes, and ocean beaches. This unique area offers an array of opportunities for nature enthusiasts.

The Park has Hundreds of species of birds including the rare Canada Aleutian goose and the Peregrine falcon. Deer, coyote, and raccoons may be spotted along the many miles of trails. Beautiful displays of wildflowers can be seen in the spring and early summer.

Online the coast, sea lions and harbor seals can be spotted along with gray whales that migrate from Alaska to Baja California. Salmon and steelhead are found in the Smith River, and cutthroat trout and Starry flounder are found in Lake Earl.

Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park

Nine miles northeast of Crescent City, the park is named after the explorer, Jedediah Strong Smith who was the first white man to explore the interior of northern California.

Established in 1929, this 10,000-acre coastal redwood park has the Smith River running through it teeming with king salmon and steelhead trout

Other than redwoods you will find western hemlock, Sitka spruce, grand, and Douglas fir. Ground cover is dense with a wide range of species and varieties of shrubs, bushes, flowers, ferns, mosses and lichens common to the coast redwood environment.

Wildlife of the park is both abundant and varied, including such animals as black bear, deer, coyote, bobcat, mountain lion, skunks, fox, beaver, river otter, squirrels, chipmunks, and many others. Rare species of birdlife also include the bald eagle, spotted owl, pileated woodpecker, and marbled murrelet.

Klamath River

Two runs on the Klamath, the Upper (Hells Corner) and the Lower (Happy Camp to Dillon Creek). Hells Corner is rated Class IV+ and the Lower is rated Class II-III. Both rivers require a varying degree of whitewater rafting skills. Consider contacting a commercial whitewater rafting outfitter.

The Klamath River, approximately 250 mi (400 km) long, is a major river of the Pacific coast in southern Oregon and northern California in the United States. It drains an arid farming valley in its upper reaches, passing swiftly through the mountains in its lower reaches before emptying into the ocean. It is one of only three rivers that pass through the Cascade Range (the others being the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington and the Pit River in California), and one of the longest rivers in California.

Del Norte County Lodging

Battery Point Beach House
Crescent City CA
Vacation Rentals
One of only a handful of vacation rental homes in Crescent City actually on the Pacific, the Battery Point Beach House has a living room and deck views of the famous lighthouse and coastline that can’t be beaten! Access to the beach sand is just a few steps away. Three bedrooms and everything needed for a family getaway makes this the perfect rental for three-night or longer stays. The rates are quite reasonable.

Crescent City Redwoods KOA
Crescent City CA
On our 17-acre campground we offer sunny, full hook-up “pull-thru” RV sites, water-electric “back-in” sites in the redwoods and 1 and 2 bedroom kamping kabins along with a Kamping Lodge that is fully equipped with its own fenced and landscaped courtyard. We also have many wonderful and very unique tent sites located in our 10 acres of redwood forest. Wi-Fi access is available at most sites.

Aon8th – Crescent City Ca Vacation Home
Crescent City CA
Vacation Rentals
A on 8th Vacation Home Our Northern California Coastal Vacation Rental is a 1918 “Craftsman Style” Home which I restored in 2001. We have 2100 sq feet with 4 bedrooms,2 bathrooms and many amenities including TV/VCR, Satellite TV, Broadband, Local phone, all linens and dishes.

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