A scenic turn off Hwy 101 northeast onto Route 162 will bring you to one of California’s prettiest pockets of nature. The drive takes you along the old Northwestern Pacific Railroad and the ancient waters of the Eel River into a land that Native Americans venerate to this day. Covelo and the Round Valley, with its breathtaking mountains, the majestic Eel River, and groves of conifers and valley oaks, offer a rare glimpse of the wilderness to share and remember. The air is fresh, crisp and clean, and the view is literally panoramic.
The oldest known inhabitants of Round Valley were members of the Native American Yuki tribe, who lived there for thousands of years. Tragically, in the late 1850s they were driven onto a small remnant of their land that had been designated an indian reservation, and eventually seven other California tribes were forcibly relocated there as well. Over the past century, the area around the reservation became populated with small settlements. Industry did pass through briefly, but today the natural beauty of the landscape is essentially unscathed, as over time many of the scars slowly healed. Even the old railroad line with its turn-of-the-century designed trestles and tunnels now seems almost a natural work of art.
Today the little town of Covelo at the middle of Round Valley is a unique cultural enclave set in the heart of the natural world. Close to half of its population is Native American. The town has a vibrant artistic community and a Community Radio Station, KYBU 96.9 FM. With a large number of talented artists who specialize in a many different media including ceramics, basket-making, drumming, photography, painting, Japanese textiles, quilting and sculpture, Covelo is one of the most culturally rich and artistically exciting towns in Mendocino County. It is an exceptional place to stop for gallery-browsing and purchasing unique local items.