Why you should road trip from San Fran to California’s isolated, animal-filled Lost Coast … Immediately!
“Mom, mom – wake up!” I exclaimed. “Do you hear that? They’re out there!”
Sunrise was still an hour away as we pulled fleece jackets over our pajamas, grabbed cameras and two cups of crappy coffee and set out to spend the early morning hours with Shelter Cove’s most beloved, and sometimes noisy, residents, the sea lions.
As we soaked in the solitude, no humans – but dozens of sea lions – in sight, I fully absorbed just how unique the Lost Coast is.
Prior to this trip, I hadn’t heard about California’s Lost Coast, but when faced with the reality we’d have to change our Big Sur plans due to tragic wildfires, I quickly scouted out some equally epic alternatives.
Enter the Lost Coast.
The Lost Coast is a stretch of 25 uninhabited miles along California’s northern coast; when construction crews were developing Highway 1, they veered the road inland for 20+ miles as they deemed this area too tough to build on.
Today, the Lost Coast is left wild and free, with only one a few small towns – including Shelter Cove, which is one of the few spots accessible by car. (And by “accessible” I mean bumpy, winding, slightly terrifying roads.) Shelter Cove has a beautiful black sand beach you can hike and camp on, a few – and I mean few – restaurants, a general store, coffee shop, and out of this world wildlife viewing.
For you stargazing fans, the Lost Coast should be high up on your list; in just 30 minutes, I saw the Milky Way, constellations and at least a handful of shooting stars.
Sigh. I heart NorCal.
We took a four-hour road trip from San Fran to Shelter Cove (about 4 hours), which took us through wine country, Redwood forests, and, finally, our beautiful Shelter Cove hotel – Tides Inn – which has seals and sea lions literally in its back yard (and our backyard for that epic, animal-filled weekend). We actually slept with our deck door open so we could wake up to the sound of seals.
And perhaps the best part of all? Shelter Cove has almost no tourists. Somehow, this gem has remained mostly hidden – and I’m sure the hike it takes to get out here doesn’t hurt.
For a full look at all things Shelter Cove – the Redwoods, the seal gazing, the road trip – oh my! – check out my video recap below. And of course, if you have any questions as you (hopefully) plan your own little Shelter Cove adventures, please ask away!