For the traveler looking to “get away from it all,” Shelter Cove, in the heart of California’s Lost Coast, is an ideal choice. Back in the 1920s, when engineers decided that the coastline from northern Mendocino County through the King Range in Humboldt County was too rugged for even a two-lane highway, road builders bypassed the entire area. This left it the most remote and undeveloped part of the California coast, making it perfect for those seeking peace and seclusion in a setting of breathtaking natural beauty.
A relatively flat point set amid a long stretch of sheer ocean cliffs, Shelter Cove gets its name from a gulf formed by Point Delgada to the south. It can only be accessed by boat, by driving for 23 miles along a winding mountain road from Redway, or by flying into the tiny Shelter Cove Airport. Shelter Cove features amenities for the traveler that include lodgings, restaurants, a cocktail lounge, a coffeehouse and markets.
Besides rest and relaxation, the village and surrounding environs also offer those who prefer more vigorous activities opportunities to fish, crab, dive for abalone, watch for whales, hike, and take stunning photographs of the scenery and wildlife. The thick redwood forests surrounding the village are home to bald eagles, Roosevelt elk, black tail deer and, if you believe the legend, Bigfoot.
The rocky shoreline makes Shelter Cove a refuge for seals and sea lions, and is home to some of the world’s richest tide pools. There are picnic areas that offer access to the beach or to the rocks below the bluffs.
Black Sand Beach to the north is deserted and picturesque, with spectacular views of the King Range. Although popular lore has it that the black sands are volcanic in origin, in fact they come from dark colored sandstone and older compressed shale.There are numerous campgrounds in the wilderness near Shelter Cove, plus a major trailhead that leads into the King Range. Hikers who want to trek the 25-mile long Lost Coast Trail can start their journey here.