The Newton B. Drury Parkway is a ten-mile-long scenic alternative to Highway 101 that takes you into the heart of Prairie Creek’s old-growth redwood forest. It’s named for the San Francisco advertising executive who, starting in 1919, was executive secretary of Save the Redwoods League. Over the next several decades, Drury helped the League protect 135,000 acres of redwood forest (an area the size of 11 Manhattan islands) in 30 redwood state parks. In 1940 he took time out from his work with the League and as chief of California State Parks to serve as head of the National Park Service.
Many worthwhile stops beckon along the Drury Parkway, including (from north to south) Ah-Pah Interpretive Trail, the Zigzag Trails, Rhododendron Trail, Brown Creek Trail, Big Tree Wayside, Prairie Creek Visitor Center, and Elk Prairie Campground, along with a resident herd of Roosevelt elk. Signed exits—one 6 miles north of Orick and one 4 miles south of Klamath—lead to the route.
The mostly unpaved, seven-mile-long Davison Road takes visitors from the park’s shady redwood forest to sunny (or foggy) Gold Bluffs Beach, which features campground and picnic areas, a section of the Coastal Trail, and the popular Fern Canyon trailhead. Along the way, the chances of seeing elk are excellent. Also be ready for cliffs, ponds, waterfalls, and a swift transition to wind-sculpted, salt-sprayed Sitka spruce and coastal scrub. The turnoff to Davison Road is 2.5 miles north of Orick on Highway 101. Motorhomes/RVs and trailers are prohibited.
Negotiating the Cal-Barrel Road’s unpaved curves earns you a look at colossal out-of-the-way coast redwoods. For maximum enjoyment, combine a drive on this 1.5-mile-long road with a walk on the intersecting Rhododendron Trail, which is sure to be accented with bright pink blossoms in May and June.
The Cal-Barrel Road takes off from the park’s Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway; the turnoff is 1.5 miles from the south end and 8 miles from the north end of the parkway. Alhough the road once led to California Barrel Company’s logging camp at the top of the ridge, you’ll halt at a fence before you get that far today. Motorhomes/RVs and trailers are prohibited.