Lost Coast
First resort district in California turns 50
Shelter Cove, the only settlement on the Lost Coast,  1the longest stretch of undeveloped shoreline in California, began officially in the spring of 1965 as the state’s first resort improvement district. The rare designation, now the only one remaining, allowed town founders to develop homes, manage a greenbelt and operate an airstrip. Five decades later, this smattering of boutique inns, vacation homes, fishing boats and curio shops is the primary gateway to the wildest coastline in the continental United States.

Boasting the hemisphere’s steepest coastal range, few roads penetrate the nearly 100-mile long beachfront wilderness, which attracts free spirits of all kinds. Hikers take three-day beach trips without seeing another person. Surfers search for a legendary surf spot known for perfect waves. Anglers find fish hauls, like 100-pound halibuts, usually reserved for big Alaskan trips. Mountain bikers zoom along one of the nation’s ten best single track trails, Paradise Royale.

Closer to town, Black Sands Beach offers colorful beachcombing. Secluded coves have secret abalone picking spots. And everywhere, from hot tubs and cafes to a golf course and retired lighthouse, sports front-row, cliff-side seats to the big ocean view.

To celebrate, Shelter Cove will host a weekend party May 1-2. There are plans for an antique car parade, athletics and arts activities, historic photo display, time capsule, commemorative coins and pins, and an aerial acrobatics show, appropriate, considering the airstrip runs through the center of town.

For some, the allure of the region is the geology that shaped it. The King Range National Conservation Area, the 70,000-acre federally managed wilderness that surrounds Shelter Cove, is home to the Mendocino Triple Junction, a collision of three tectonic plates that created the fastest growing mountain range in the hemisphere, which forced the builders of coastal Highway 1 to flee inland.

For others, the draw is more spiritual. Our Lady of the Redwoods Abbey, a cloister of nuns in nearby Whitethorn that produces and sells delicious creamed honey, has received guests to their old growth redwood estate for decades, including Thomas Merton, one of the most influential spiritual writers of Twentieth Century, who would have turned 100 this year.

Merton, who dreamed of establishing a monastery near a coastal crag called Needle Point, mused that “the Lost Coast is one of the most beautiful places on Earth.”

Information here provided by the Humboldt County Convention and Visitors Bureau. For more about the anniversary, Shelter Cove, the Lost Coast, things to do and lodging options, phone 707-443-5097 or email richard@redwoods.info.
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