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Driving route to and from Mendocino

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posts: 67
Driving route to and from Mendocino

We will be leaving South Lake Tahoe on 6/26 to Mendocino via 89, 80 and 20 all the way. Coming back down from Mendencio to SF, we plan to take 1 going south, switch to 128, then 101 to Healdsburg and 116 to Jenner where we will spend a night. After that we'll drive down 1 to Point Reyes for 2 nights before heading down to SF for another 4 nights. We want to take the 128 going down instead of 1 since we heard that 128 is real scenic. Do you agree? In doing so, are we missing a lot of the coast line along the south of Elk to north of Jenner? If the coast line between Elk and Jenner is not to be missed, may be we can make some chnage driving to Mendocino, going from around Clear Lake to 175 to 128 and then take 128 up to Mendcino thru Yorksville, Navarro. This way, we can drive the coast between Elk and Jenner,, but miss the drive along the Russian river unless we make a turn driving the river a bit the next morning. But going down 128 will allow us to drive the 116 along the Russsian river which I heard is also a nice drive.



10 replies to this topic
hollister, Ca
posts: 71
reviews: 23
1. Re: Driving route to and from Mendocino

The Russian River drive is beautiful but given the choice, I would always choose Highway 1 along the coast. It is very windy(meaning lots of curves....but its can also have a lot of wind...so both meanings work in this case), but absolutely beautiful. I wouldn't do the jog over to Healdsburg just to jog back over to the Jenner. I would just drive directly to the coast and take the coast all the way to San Francisco. I love that drive though....so I am partial to it.

San Francisco...
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
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2. Re: Driving route to and from Mendocino

The coastal drive from Mendocino all the way to Bodega Bay in parts rivals that Big Sur and it has less crowds -- parts remind me of the Europe and it is to be savored. So I agree with the previous poster

posts: 67
3. Re: Driving route to and from Mendocino

Ok. If I understand correctly, we should drive hwy 1 all the way down to SF from Mendocino. If so, Going to Mendcino, I will take 20 around the north west side of Clear lake to 175, then 128 (south of Yorkville) to hwy 1 to Mendcino. I believe 128 is a worthwhile drive as well. Thanks

posts: 67
4. Re: Driving route to and from Mendocino


Napa, CA
Destination Expert
for Napa
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5. Re: Driving route to and from Mendocino

Hwy 175 is a fairly slow road with lots of twists and turns. Many people don't care for it very much but it does have some nice views. 128 is also quite twisty between Hwy 101 and Boonville. Hwy 20 is a more direct route and shorter driving time to get to Fort Bragg. 128 is nice if you want to stop at the wineries in Philo or Navarro or if you want to spend some time at Hendy Woods State Park. Otherwise, I would take Hwy 20.

Also, it's quicker to go from SLT down 50 to Sacramento and then up to 20 on I-5. However, the 89/80/20 route is probably more scenic but 89 can be pretty slow driving during the summer.

Santa Cruz...
Destination Expert
for Santa Cruz
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6. Re: Driving route to and from Mendocino

Driving down Hwy 1, there is a lighthouse at Point Arena. Gualala is an artist colony. There are a few galleries in town, but there is a beautiful Arts Center at the south end of town. It is a little off the highway so watch for the sign. Its members show paintings, water colors, fiber arts ceramics and sculptures.


You should stop at the Timber Cove Inn for a coffee or just to admire the architecture AND the incredible views.


Three miles south, stop at Fort Ross Stale Historic Park, if only for the great photo op of the small wooden Russian Orthodox chapel from the early 1800's.


The Russians had a colony here where they traded otter furs (and, incidentally, kept their influence in the New World.)

The next 10 miles contains the "rivals Big Sur" part of the journey, high on cliffs, down into coves,gorgeous scenery. There are pullouts you will want to use to view it all. The waves may be doing their exciting crashing against the cliffs.

Then you are in Jenner You may want to pull over to watch the Russian River enter the ocean.

The next. 10 miles, to Bodega Bay is just driving along the coast. There are several State. Beaches you can walk on, but watch your back. "rogue" waves often come in unexpectedly.

Hwy 1 goes inland from here, later skirts Tomales Bay (oyster beds) passes Point Reyes National Seashore, and then does some more cliff driving before coming into Hwy 101 just north of the Bridge.

It is a great trip.

Edited: 8:40 pm, June 11, 2014
Fort Bragg...
posts: 129
reviews: 1
7. Re: Driving route to and from Mendocino

Take 20 to 101 go south to Ukiah just a few miles at the south end of Ukiah is the Boonville Road I think it is 154, not sure of the number but it goes over the hill and comes out just east of Boonville at 128 then just follow it to the coast thru the valley and the redwoods.

posts: 67
8. Re: Driving route to and from Mendocino

I think I like going to 20, south on 101 to take 253 to 128 south of Bonnville and take 128 up to 1 then Mendcino. But according to Google map, it will take almost 8 hours just to drive. We will be driving from Mammoth to South Lake Tahoe for 2 nights before going west to Mendencio. Now we are wondering if we should stay at S Lake Tahoe for 1 night instead and may be another night along our way to Mendencio? What do you think? If so, where is a good suggestion to spend a night? Thanks

posts: 67
9. Re: Driving route to and from Mendocino

We are actually spending 2 night at Mammoth after our visit to Yosemite, 2 nights at South Lake Tahoe before heading west to Mendencio for 2 nights before going down hwy 1. Given the long drive from S Lake Tahoe to Mendencio, now I am wondering if I need to spend 2 nights at Mammoth and 2 nights at S Lake Tahoe. In other words, we have 4 nights in between going from Mammoth to Mendencino and I am wondering where we should spend the 4 nights now? Any suggestion? We are active adults who like sight seeing, doing easy hikes/walks/taking photos in scenic places. Thanks

Oregon Coast
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for Crescent City, Oregon Coast, Oregon, Redwood National Park
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10. Re: Driving route to and from Mendocino

>> It is very windy(meaning lots of curves....but its can also have a lot of wind...so both meanings work in this case), but absolutely beautiful. <<

LOL, 1survivorfan! It always bothers me when people write "windy" meaning "winding", mainly because I don't know if they mean 'whooosh' the wind will be blowing, or you'll be driving twisting, curving roads!

Anyway, be sure to drive Highway 1, SDtoSeattle.

You could spend a night in Clear Lake or Ukiah on your way.

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