After last year’s excursion to Southern Utah, Lisa and I decided to continue our explorations of the American West in 2022. After plugging a few random travel dates and locations into Travelocity I came up with round-trip non-stop flight prices from EWR airport to SFO for $280. With that value pricing, a one week trip to see the coastal Redwoods and Yosemite National Park was born. Lisa hadn’t been to California previously and I had yet to explore north of San Francisco.
I proceeded to complete our airfare purchase through Travelocity (Alaska Airlines departing NJ and then JetBlue for our return flight). Lisa also quickly began researching rental car rates out of San Francisco International and we eventually settled on Alamo rentals based on price and reviews. We booked a mid-size class car to the tune of $426 all-in for a 7 day rental.
Lisa and I were told by a friend that Point Reyes National Seashore is not to be missed and Lisa also researched Humboldt Redwoods State Park as a major nature attraction nearby to the Pacific Coast Highway. We wagered that spending our first few nights near the coast and then transitioning to lodging nearer Yosemite would lend to a diverse natural sightseeing itinerary. Google Maps also indicated that a quick stop in Napa Valley could be easily pieced into our driving route.
We had a smooth and uneventful trip from EWR (Newark Liberty International Airport) to SFO (San Francisco International Airport) via Alaska Airlines. ⬇️ Big Thanks to Jonboy for getting us to the airport.
We scored a very economical “mid size class sedan” from Alamo car rental and we certainly averaged well over 50+ mpg for the many hundreds of miles we drive around the PCH and Yosemite. Two thumbs up on the 2020 Hyundai Ioniq hybrid “blue edition”. The integrated Apple CarPlay also served us well for navigation purposes. ⬇️
What trip to San Francisco is complete without an obligatory touristy walk around Fisherman’s Wharf? ⬇️
Nice view of the marina near Fisherman’s Wharf and I believe that Sausalito provides the distant background. ⬇️
Heavy Metal and boating = perfect together? ⬇️ I also appreciated that the guy working on this vessel was rocking out to seminal West Coast punk band Agent Orange! 🤘
Located a few blocks from Fisherman’s Wharf, Cilantro Taqueria filled the belly of 2 hungry tourists ⬇️
Lisa enjoyed driving us down scenic and winding Lombard Street in San Fran. ⬇️
So long San Francisco, we barely knew ya. We had to reach our airbnb in Manchester CA which lies every bit of 135 miles North on the same day! We drove across the Golden Gate Bridge and set our GPS for a short stop at Golden Gate National Recreation Area. ⬇️
Just a small sampling of the varied scenery at Golden Gate National Recreation Area ⬇️
Amenities and food stores seemed a little sparse as we continued our drive North on Route 1 towards the Point Arena / Manchester area. We grabbed a few groceries at Diekmann’s Bay Store to bring to the airbnb ⬇️
Arrival at airbnb #1 “Private Tiny-House in a Grove of Large Redwoods” on the evening of May 9th was a comforting sight to our tired eyes. Accommodations were very clean and modern and Jed and Emilie clearly take great pride in ownership ⬇️
Within the state park’s visitor center I found the story of conservationist and naturalist Charles Kellogg very inspiring.
Below is a small sampling of the natural sights we enjoyed at Humboldt Redwoods State Park ⬇️
As we departed Humboldt Redwoods an unexpected snow squall (not pictured) blew across both Route 1 and 101. Our brave Hyundai Ioniq pushed onward heading south through Ukiah as we circled back towards airbnb #1 in Manchester. Lisa and I stopped at Ukiah Brewing Company for a bite to eat and to taste the local brews. ⬇️
We began the day with a short morning drive South on Route 1 out of Manchester. I wanted to see the unique geological features to be seen at “Bowling Ball Beach” at Schooner’s Gulch. Lo and Behold the “bowling balls” are not exposed during high tide. Dang! I still enjoyed stretching my legs at Schooner’s Gulch ⬇️
Next we stopped in at Gualala Point Regional Park to see the sights. The adjacent range of sheep with young lambs made for fun “wildlife viewing”.
Next we enjoyed a stop at Stewarts Point Store for a cup of coffee and freshly baked pastries ⬇️
Goat Rock at Sonoma Coast State Park proved also to be a very scenic stop along Route 1 ⬇️
Our primary destination on May 11th was to be Point Reyes National Seashore. With sparse amenities along the way we turned off the highway and explored the same town of Bodega to refill on snacks and soft drinks. Lisa and I both enjoyed the various small historic downtown shopping areas we stumbled on throughout our trip ⬇️
More sights at Point Reyes ⬇️
May 12th was not only my birthday, it was also time to bid the Tiny House in the Redwoods a fond farewell. Lisa and I were driving through Napa on our way to airbnb #2 in the Oakhurst/Bass Lake area ⬇️
Though we did not stay long the scenery was impressive at Lake Sonoma Recreation Area. The hiking trails also seemed challenging and noteworthy ⬇️
My internet research on visiting Napa advised that Oxbow Public Market is a must-visit so who were we to object? ⬇️
Lisa and I were a bit surprised to learn that the vast majority of Napa Vineyards require advanced reservations. We were thankful that Artesa Vineyards and Winery were able to accommodate us without reservations on a most informative wine tasting. Be sure to request host Jesse Galvan at Artesa! ⬇️
After a short but enjoyable and calorie-rich visit to Napa we hit the proverbial pedal to the metal to check into airbnb #2, Chuck’s Lost Pine Cabin ⬇️
On the morning of May 13th 2022 in the wee hours of the morning we drove North out of Oakhurst on Route 41 for our introduction to Yosemite National Park.
Having heard the walk up to Vernal Falls was “easy” we decided to give that a go. Turns out a steady steep ascent on hard asphalt can be a little tough on the feet and ankles. ⬇️
Lisa and I were extremely relieved to get off our feet and back in the car after a long day at Yosemite. We did catch some nice last day light at Tunnel View as we made our way out of the park and back to Lost Pine Cabin. ⬇️
Following another pleasant sleep at Lost Pine Cabin, Lisa and I brewed our morning coffee and prepared for another adventure day. Utilizing wifi at the cabin, I booked 10AM tickets for a tour of Boyden Caverns. ⬇️
We stopped at Grant Grove Restaurant along the way for breakfast.
With no time to spare we arrived at the Gift Shop at Boyden Cavern to embark on the 10AM guided tour. We found Stella our guide to be informative and enthusiastic ⬇️
After seeing such massive dead trees it was time to press onward and see the splendor of The Giant Forest sequoia grove. We were quite tired and the trails were crowded by the time we reached the largest tree in the world, The General Sherman Trail. ⬇️
After another long day of adventuring and sight-seeing (we didn’t sleep much this trip) we grabbed a late dinner at Visalia Brewing Company. We observed some seedy characters emerging on the dark streets in the city so we wasted little time in returning to the Lost Pine Cabin. ⬇️
On the morning of May 15th we drove from Oakhurst towards the town of Mariposa to see what we could see. Overall we found the stores in Mariposa underwhelming though we had decent coffee at The Pony Express. ⬇️
After breakfast we continued driving up the harrowing narrow roads of Highway 49 and chanced upon the wonderfully preserved gold mine town of Coulterville. Coulterville has a feel of a quasi-ghost town with some businesses operating in structures built in the late 1800. Gritty and authentic is how I like my Wild West sightseeing. Lisa and I spent quite a while inside the Coulterville museum appreciating the period artifacts. ⬇️
From Coulterville we ventured onward to Columbia. Columbia is also a gold mining town and home to several bustling family-friendly restaurants and shops. I did not enjoy this stop nearly as much as Coulterville though the 90F weather was also beginning to get to me. ⬇️
From Highway 49 (Golden Chain Highway) we turned east on Highway 120 back towards Yosemite National Park. We stopped for iced coffee in Groveland at FireFall Coffee Roasting Company. The drinks could have been better though our young barista insisted I give this Zombie‘s album a listen. ⬇️
As we drove south through Yosemite heading towards Oakhurst we enjoyed dynamic evening light and a beautiful view of the the Blood Moon rising. ⬇️
On the morning of May 16th we had to bid adieu to The Lost Pine Cabin in Oakhurst. Due to morning traffic en route to SFO our drive time was nearly four hours. Lisa and I boarded JetBlue flight 1982 at 2:15 Pacific Standard Time. We touched down at Newark Liberty International at approximately 11PM EST. We were both very thankful for our travel experiences and airbnb accommodations but now it was time to go home and get back to the grind.
I will be updating this trip report with interactive links and descriptive photo captions as my schedule allows.
Let me know if you have any questions on our itinerary.