Day 4: Northern California

Stop 1: Sacramento Downtown

Our plan was to see the downtown and start driving home. We parked next to the State Capitol and started our walk. This is the State Capitol:

Sacramento State Capitol

Sacramento State Capitol

Next stop was the Cathedral of Blessed Sacrament:

Cathedral of Blessed Sacrament

We continued walking in the Old Town for some time and then headed back to our car to drive to our next destination.

Stop 2: 17 Mile Drive

17 mile drive is a scenic drive ($10 entrance fee) on the Monterey Peninsula that is considered one of the most beautiful drives in the world.  It goes to Pebble beach through the Pacific Grove and Del Monte Forest. At the entrance you are given a map with the main landmarks clearly marked. There are many signs along the road so you won’t miss your turn or stop. It is possible to spend the whole day there to see everything, but you can also drive through it quickly depending on your time limit. Of course it is worth driving along all PCH and spending there several days, but if you don’t have that much time then you can do 17 mile drive only to get a feel of what PCH is.

17 Mile Drive, PCH, California

Lots of fat little cuties there 🙂

17 Mile Drive, PCH, California

This picture shows that money can actually buy anything. Large territory of the peninsula is actually a golf course, some of it is on the beach. I’m wondering what’s in these people’s heads? “Let’s go and throw some golf balls into the ocean?” (we actually saw several ball going straight into the ocean).

17 Mile Drive, PCH, California

17 Mile Drive, PCH, California

17 Mile Drive, PCH, California

Famous more than 250 years old Lone Cypress:

17 Mile Drive, PCH, California, Lone Pine  17 Mile Drive, PCH, California

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Day 3: Northern California

Other than our camping area by Summit lake, we wanted to visit Bumpass Hell and Cinder Cone in Lassen Volcanic National Park. However, Bumpass Hell was closed due to snow in the area thus we visited Cinder Cone only. Also, we had some car problems in the morning which cost us 3 hours of time and limited our options.

Bumpass Hell is the largest thermal area in the park, however we’ve been to Yellowstone earlier and we didn’t regret of not seeing it. But we definitely wanted to climb a volcano so we headed to Cinder Cone.

Stop 1: Cinder Cone

First complication is 7-mile gravel road leading to the hiking area. Big cars can make it easily but we were driving 25 mph max – this was the boring part.

Cinder Cone hike is 4 miles round trip and takes you to the top of the volcano. Estimated hike time is 3 hours, but we made it in 2. This is what you’ll see from the top:

Lassen Volcanic Cinder Cone

Lassen Volcanic Cinder Cone

Lassen Volcanic Cinder Cone

Lassen Peak:

Lassen Volcanic Cinder Cone

Lassen Volcanic Cinder Cone

Prospect Peak and Snag Lake:

Lassen Volcanic Cinder Cone

The Fantastic Lava Beds and the Painted Dunes are clearly viewed:

Lassen Volcanic Cinder Cone

It feels really cool walking on the edge of the volcano. Even though it was very hot you don’t feel it due to the height and wind.

Lassen Volcanic Cinder Cone

Now, the challenging part is going up on a steep loose volcanic gravel trail. See that small dots at the top? Those are tiny little people. It took us approximately 20 min to crawl up with several stops to catch up breath. We were the fastest among all other people, but even small kids were able to go up. I would say that most people can make it up in an hour.

Lassen Volcanic Cinder Cone

Lassen Volcanic Cinder Cone

Lassen Volcanic Cinder Cone

This is how the first mile of the hike looks like:

Lassen Volcanic Cinder Cone

Stop 2: Sacramento

As we wasted 3 hours and 200 miles on our car problem fixing we arrived later than planned and decided to rest and save some energy for our last day.

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Day 4

4 Days in Northern California: Pacific Coast Highway, Redwoods, Lassen Volcanic, Sacramento

Fern Canyon, CaliforniaDuration: 4.5 days
Mileage: ~2000
Starting point: Irvine, CA
States: CA
Budget for 2 people: $450 ($65 for 2 nights in camps, $45* for 2 nights in hotels, $200 gas, $120 food, $20 other)

  • Day 0: drive to San Francisco after work
  • Day 1: drive to Redwoods National Park along Pacific Coast, explore Glass Beach and Avenue of the Giants (420 mi, 10 h overall)
  • Day 2: explore Fern Canyon, Big Tree of Elk Creek Prairie SP, Newton B. Drury Scenic Pkwy, Crescent Beach, Enderts Beach, Howland Hill Road; drive to Lassen Volcanic National Park (400 mi, 9 h overall)
  • Day 3: hike to Cinder Cone; drive to Sacramento (300 mi, 6 h overall)
  • Day 4: explore Sacramento; “17 mile drive”; drive home (600 mi, 10 h)

* We used our Wyndham rewards to book hotels, one night price was $15, second $30