Saturday, July 30, 2011

CALIFORNIA-NORTHERN

(includes limited Bay Area; does not include Big Sur-Monterey Coast, Marin County, Mendocino Coast, Napa Wine Region, Oakland, Point Reyes, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Silicon Valley, Sonoma Wine Region or Stinson Beach)

AMADOR & CALAVERAS COUNTIES
Amador City
Hotels
Imperial Hotel – 14202 Old Highway 49; 209-267-9172; imperialamador.com; historic brick hotel turned B&B in quaint Gold Rush town; dates to 1879; many California Shenandoah Valley wineries within 13-mile drive; 6 simple yet elegant rooms feature original brick walls & high-stud ceilings, plus Wi-Fi access & private bathrooms; some offer access to covered balcony overlooking main street; nearby cottage offers 3 period suites with fireplaces & either Jacuzzi tubs or private patio; full hot breakfast included; dinner (Tues-Sun) & lunch (weekends); storied saloon bar serves local wines.

Angel Camp
Hotels
Best Western Cedar Inn & Suites – 444 South Main Street; 209-736-4000; bestwesternangelscamp.com; reasonable area choice with pool; not great.

Mokelumne Hill
Hotels
Leger Hotel – 8304 Main Street; 209-286-1401; hotelleger.com; 1st hotel built in California during 1851 Gold Rush; antique filled rooms, rustic restaurant & lively saloon.

Mountain Ranch
Sights & Sites
California Caverns State Historic Landmark – 9565 Cave City Road; 209-736-2708 (Sierra Nevada Recreation Corporation) or 866-762-2837; caverntours.com/california-cavern-state-historic-landmark; in 1849-50, Captain Joseph Taylor target shooting on rocky outcropping & noticed targets being moved by breeze emanating from rocks; investigated & discovered entrance to cave; soon after it’s discovery, enterprising miners opened cave for public tours, making it California’s 1st show cave; early visitors included Bret Harte, Mark Twain & John Muir who wrote about his visit; for 150 years, visitors have enjoyed unique delicate beauty of cavern’s crystalline formations; some speleothems, such as beaded helictites found in Middle Earth area are very rare; others are so numerous as to be spectacular, such as “Jungle Room’s” array of stalactites.

Murphys
Hotels
Murphys Hotel – 457 Main Street; 209-728-3444; murphyshotel.com; in converted stagecoach stop dating from 1856; quaint hotel with 2 modern annexes; rooms in main building are named after famous guests & feature antique furnishings & shared bathrooms; rooms in annexes offer private facilities, flat-screens & complimentary Wi-Fi; suites & upgraded rooms add minifridges, microwaves, sofas &/or private balconies; parking, charming restaurant & Wild West–style saloon with patio & regular live entertainment.

Vallecito (includes Arnold)
Services
Cave & Mine Adventures – 5350 Moaning Cave Road; 209-736-2708; caverntours.com.
Sights & Sites
Calaveras Big Trees State Park – 1170 California Highway 4 (Arnold); 209-795-2334; parks.ca.gov/?page_id=551; preserving two groves of giant sequoia trees.
Moaning Caverns – 5350 Moaning Cave Road; 209-736-2708; gocalaveras.com/moaning-cavern; solutional cave in heart of state’s Gold Country (discovered in modern times by gold miners in 1851); gets its name from moaning sound that, at one time, echoed out of cave; opening’s expansion (to allow access for public disrupted sounds); portion developed for tourists consists of spacious vertical shaft 165' tall, descended by stairs & unique 100' high spiral staircase built in early 1900s; open to public for walking tours, rappelling, spelunking & ziplines.

Volcano
Sights & Sites
Black Chasm – 15701 Pioneer Volcano Road; 209-736-2708; blackchasmcavern.com; dissolution cave, formed by carbonic acid eroding subterranean bedrock; considered Calaveras Complex part; many lakes make up lower levels; formations include stalactites, stalagmites, columns, flowstone, draperies, ribbons, angel’s wings, cave bacon, soda straws, helictites & false floors.



DEL NORTE COUNTY
Crescent City
Sights & Sites
California Redwood Birding Trail – extends south of Klamath River, along Smith River (contact is Crescent City Chamber of Commerce, 1001 Front Street); 707-464-3174 or 800-343-8300; californiaredwoodbirdingtrail.org; this tiny county on state’s wild redwood northwest corner has recorded more bird species (419 as of 2006) than 18 entire states and 9 Canadian territories and provinces; over 50 miles pristine coastline and 10Ks acres public lands; Castle Rock National Wildlife Refuge protects state’s 2nd largest seabird colony; Lake Earl Coastal Lagoon is West Coast’s largest estuarine lagoon (outside Alaska), providing major migratory stopover during peak Pacific Flyway times; Redwood National & State Parks protect some of world’s tallest trees and includes 75-miles of trails for exploration; Smith River National Recreation Area showcases nation’s longest wild and scenic river; Six Rivers National Forest contains unmatched geologic complexity & immense plant diversity; Klamath River borders county’s southern entrance offers steelhead and salmon fishing; Crescent City, with its outlying ranch and farmlands, hosts several museums, 2 lighthouses, etc.



HUMBOLDT COUNTY
Arcata
Sights & Sites
Mad River County Park – 150 Mad River Road; 707-445-7651; humboldtgov.org/1447/Mad-River-Beach-County-Park; Sandy beach with grassy dunes offering opportunities for swimming, beachcombing, boating & fishing; worth special trip.

Eureka
Bakeries, Coffee, Ice Cream, Juice & Tea
Old Town Coffee & Chocolates – 11 F Street; 707-445-8600; oldtowncoffeeeureka.com; one other location.

Shelter Cove
Hotels
Oceanfront Inn – 26 Seal Court; 707-986-7002 or 800-824-1614 sheltercoveoceanfrontinn.com; beautiful tidal pools.



SHASTA COUNTY
Anderson
Hotels
Gaia Shasta Hotel – 4125 Riverside Place; 530-365-7077 or 877-778-3977; gaiashasta.com; 9½ acre property; 120 rooms; eco-conscious.

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