Heart of the Redwood Valley
The beautiful Redwood Valley runs parallel to
Highway 101. This is a high valley which favors
grape-growing. Five major wineries are located here.
Twenty-three miles north of Ukiah, in Mendocino
County, the town of Willits was famed chiefly as the
eastern terminus of the Skunk Train, an old
logging railway which takes tourists on a 40-mile trip
between Willits and Fort
Bragg on the Pacific Coast. Willits is also noted as
the site of the transplanted archway which used to
announce Reno, Nevada as the "Biggest Little City in the
World" and now hails Willits as the "Gateway to the
Redwoods." It has recently become a popular place to
visit because of the popularity of the "Seabiscuit" book
and movie. The famed little race horse spent his last
years on his owner's ranch in Willits.
The Mendocino County Museum on East Commercial
Street is open Wednesdays through Sundays with an
excellent collection of Pomo Indian artifacts and
displays on early pioneer life in the county. This is a
rural town and the Frontier Days Rodeo, held each
July 4th, provides residents and visitors with a
midsummer country celebration. It's the oldest rodeo in
Lake Mendocino is located 18 miles south of
Willits, on Highway 101. Created in 1958 by the
construction of the Coyote Dam, the lake is a widening of
the Russian River which provides flood control and water
supply in addition to many recreational opportunities.
The recreation area has two boat launching ramps, three
swimming and picnic parks and more than 300 campsites
around the lake. The Shakota Trail is 3.5 miles in
length, and the Kayeo Trail is 7 miles long.
Several overnight places have a distinctive
ambience. Brooktrails Lodge (707-459-1596) is
nestled in the redwoods on Sherwood Road, 3.5 miles north
of town. There are 20 motel units and 10 cottages with
one and two-bedroom accommodations. There's a cafe, a
swimming pool, tennis courts and a nine-hole golf course.
Old West Inn (707-459-4201) on Hwy. 101 is all
done up in Wild West decor, pretending to be a recreated
western town. It's near the Skunk Train depot.
Campers and RV owners stay at two private campgrounds.
The KOA is on Highway 20, 1.5 miles from the Highway 101
junction, with full hookups, tenting sites, a summer pool
and store. For information and reservations, write to
P.O. Box 946, Willits, CA 95490 or phone (707) 459-6179.
Hidden Valley Campground is on Highway 101 north of
the town center with hookups, showers and laundry. For
reservations write 29801 North Highway 101, Willits, CA
95490 or call (707) 459-2521 or 800-458-8368 (CA only).
© 1997/2005 - Fraser Bridges