Wildlife Viewing & Sealife in Crescent City & Del Norte County, California
Uncover a charmingly slimy banana slug. Admire the immensity of a migrating whale. Explore a zoo-like variety of wildlife but with the freedom of the raw outdoors. Here in Del Norte County, the wildlife is vibrant.
Sea Bird Watching
There are almost as many bird species as there are businesses – 431 species. Let your heart soar with the bald eagles, hooded mergansers, loons and cormorants around Klamath. After a crab lunch, wander the harbor to spy brown pelicans, murrelets, ospreys and surfbirds. As you paddle around Lake Earl, look out for hawks, herons and egrets. Explore the lagoons and Teal Point for owls, raptors and falcons.
Grab a kayak and glide just half a mile from Pebble Beach to bear witness to an animal enclave like no other. Castle Rock Wildlife Refuge is home to a jaw-dropping number of birds including thousands of Aleutian cackling geese and tens of thousands of common murres. The 14-acres habitat is closed to the public, but binos are all you need to ogle this amazing collection. You may also see gray whales, harbor seals, northern elephant seals with their pups and sea lions. The refuge is a highly-trafficked “rest stop” on their ocean travels.
I Spy Sea Lions
The bark of a sea lion always generates giggles and big smiles. Spy the sun-bathing loafs on the docks of Crescent City Harbor or in a sandy cove off Pebble Beach Drive.
It is not uncommon to spot whales from the shore, however overlooks often provide better views. As you watch the pods retire north March through May, consider mixing in some maritime history. One of the best spots in the area for whale watching is Brother Jonathan Cemetery, a memorial dedicated to those who lost their lives when the mail steamer Brother Jonathan wrecked off the coast in 1865.
Roosevelt Elk Spotting
Define your big outdoor experience with the biggest of them all – the Roosevelt Elk. Once on the verge of extension, they are now thriving giants, second only to the moose in species size. Bring your curiosity – and your camera – to Crescent Beach, Gold Bluffs Beach or Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park to spy these noble creatures. Or breath in the quiet of the prairie along Bald Hills Road near Klamath. You’ll find the elk grazing in beautiful open spaces.
A Hunting Haven
Beautiful and diverse, the Six Rivers National Forest has one of California’s highest deer-hunter success rates. Soak up the vistas and lush scenery of Patrick Creek while on your quest for blacktail deer. Quail, grouse, wild turkeys, pigeons and squirrels are also plentiful throughout the region.
Creatures Small & Mighty
Go on a sleuth’s safari to find small but mighty creatures that live exclusively in the region’s forests. Keep your eyes peeled for the California banana slug. They truly resemble the fruit and make for awesome photos. These terrestrial slugs thrive on the moist, damp floors of the redwoods. A little larger in size than a slug but perhaps even harder to spot is the Siskiyou chipmunk. Making their homes in hollow trees, and under fallen logs, these guys favor dense forests. Challenge your youngster to scan the trails for a glimpse of this furry critter.
Photo by Xiong Thao Photography
Wander With Us
Wander through the California redwoods, surf rugged coastline, hike the California Coastal Trail, or savor a craft brew next to a cozy campfire along the Pacific Ocean. Follow our Big Adventures journal (and tag your photos #VisitDelNorte so we can follow along!) for things to do and ideas for exploring all parts of Del Norte County — from the Oregon border to Crescent City to Klamath, California.