I have been wanting to visit Prairie Creek for a long time now, so you can imagine how excited I was to finally be in the park!! We saw Elk feeding in the meadow as we drove down to the Visitor’s Center and to check out the campground in the park. I had wanted to camp here, but as it’s a popular destination, there were no campsites available at the time we were visiting. This is a rather large park with 2 entrances off 101. (Naturally, we were confused by this and made a large circle back to the Visitor’s Center later on when we were trying to find the road for Golds Bluff Beach.) The center of the park where the Visitor’s Center and Campground are located opens up into a large meadow with many roadways and lots of parking. The other roadways leading away from the meadow had a more confined and forest feel.
We were interested in visiting Golds Bluff Beach and walking through the Fern Canyon so we stopped into the Visitor’s Center to get directions. It turns out the drive out to Golds Bluff Beach was a bit bumpy and 4×4 wheel drive was recommended. Wow! What a drive. It was indeed bumpy, windy, narrow at times which made perfect sense why trailers and other large vehicles were not allowed.
We had brought a picnic lunch and enjoyed lunching at the tables provided. The kids played a bit on the beach and then we were ready to drive further on to the entrance to the trail head for the Fern Canyon. Luckily there are vault bathrooms out here as we were quite a ways now from the Visitor’s Center. We also passed the campground for tent campers.
Since dogs are not allowed on trails, hubby and I took turns enjoying the beach with Lady while the other parent and kids walked through the Fern Canyon.
Did you know that the movie “The Lost World: Jurassic Park”, the second in the Jurassic Dinosaur movies, filmed scenes here in the fern canyon? Well, now you know. I may have to watch that movie again to see if I can identify those scenes.
There are no words for how magical the walk through the Fern Canyon felt. Even with the severe drought conditions, a stream still existed and you could hear the water falling down the walls of the canyon and see the lush ferns and trees growing in this very cool place. The path gets tricky at times and you will need to climb over fallen trees and other large natural debris. It helps to wear sturdy, waterproof shoes.
Considering how hard it was for us to find this trail and how long and bumpy the road was out to this part of the park, it surprised me how many other people knew of it’s existence and how to find it. This is one popular place. I was even more surprised how quickly people moved through the space. Each hidden room along the grotto felt unique and deserved to be appreciated. Understandably, each person’s journey is their own and so we appreciated often being left alone in each new space. We moved slowly. The kids touched and climbed and skipped stones and hopped over bridges and crawled through tight spaces. They played games and imagined. It was a child’s perfect natural playground and we could have stayed for hours longer than we did, if it wasn’t for the knowledge that dad was still waiting patiently for his turn too. And lucky for dad, the novelty of the space did not wear off and the boys were thrilled to do it again with him.
We did not make it to the end of this trail. The kids had so much fun playing along the way that eventually we had to turn around to give dad a chance to see it too. I believe hubby and the boys made it even further than we did. I wonder how it looped back to the trail head? Perhaps we will visit again and find out.
Golds Bluff Beach
After driving all that ways on that bumpy and narrow road, it was puzzling to me that the road would eventually open up to this vast and very private beach surrounded on one side by the bluffs. How could there still be more land to discover?
The campground here was popular but down on the beach itself, we found it was just us girls.
What a beautiful day to have this private beach all to ourselves. We raced, danced and at least one of us barked into the wind before we fell to the sand and were left quietly to sit, dig and wonder. The boys did eventually find us.
So close together two spaces exist so differently from one another, yet each space is beautiful and amazing. Mother Nature is one creative gal.