Sublime scenery on Highway 101? Absolutely, in Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, where the tarmac passes through forests of colossal redwoods. In May, pink rhododendrons light the way. In June, orange “tiger” or Columbia lilies brighten your ride. Later in the summer look for the red berries of false Solomon’s seal and the blue berries of Clintonia.
For a more leisurely look at the coast, as well as the Klamath Estuary, drive west on Requa Road, just south of the park. In September salmon are running and there’s always good birdwatching. More than 400 species of birds have been recorded in Redwood National and State Parks.
Or try the 9-mile-long, mostly unpaved Coastal Drive Loop just south of the Klamath River Bridge on national park land. To get there, exit Highway 101 on West Klamath Beach Road. Turn left on Alder Camp Road, which later veers north and merges with Coastal Drive, which is now a one-way road. Coastal Drive eventually merges back into West Klamath Beach Road to complete the loop. Interpretive signs along the coast point out 1) High Bluff Overlook, a good picnic or photo stop 1.2 miles south of the mouth of the Klamath River; and 2) a World War II radar station disguised as a farmhouse. Near the mouth of the Klamath, check the sky for enterprising osprey. It’s not unusual to see these sea hawks toting fish they’ve plucked from the estuary. The route is narrow and winding; motor homes, RVs, and trailers are prohibited.