Imagine being transported back to the jurassic period where ferns cover high walls and water drips down from above into the creek below. There is such a place along the Northern California coast. Hidden within Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park is Fern Canyon. It’s no small wonder that Steven Spielberg used Fern Canyon as a location when filming The Lost World: Jurassic Park, it’s an amazing place. The canyon has also served as a location for Walking with Dinosaurs and IMAX’s Dinosaurs Alive!

An Amazing View of Fern Canyon

Walking into this canyon, you can’t help but feel like you have walked into another world. I have never seen anything like Fern Canyon. The walls envelope you, the smell of the forest and the earth fills your nose and the sounds of trickling water sets a musical background. One can only stand in the middle of it all and attempt to take it in. I felt so small in this place at the same time I felt so alive. Five types of ferns grow from the walls here as well as an assortment of mosses and other moisture loving plants, the walls are literally alive!

The View from the canyon’s dead end.

Fern Canyon is an easy 1 mile round trip hike along the flat canyon floor. During the summer months, foot bridges are installed, but you’ll still probably get a little wet. In the winter the trail is still accessible but you’ll need to be prepared to really get wet. Near the trail head there is a trail/staircase that climbs up and out of the canyon where you can return along the top of the canyon getting you a birds eye view from above. I went partially up that stair case, but my old legs just couldn’t take it so I came down. 🙂

On the way back from the canyon’s dead end, I turned my camera towards the smaller details of the canyon. I found this little Banana Slug hanging out on a log. Kinda cool, never seen one of these before. Don’t they typically live in rain forests? Well, they live here in the canyon.

Banana Slug on a log!

I loved this little twisty fern tendril, so I had to capture it and give it the dreamy art treatment.

A Twisty Tendril

So, you want to go right? To get there take Hwy 101 north from Orick, CA for 2 miles. Turn Left on to Davison Road and follow it through Elk Meadow and onto a dirt road (no motorhomes or trailers). Follow the road for 6 miles to the Gold Bluffs Beach Kiosk, you’ll need to pay the $8 day use fee. You’ll then follow the road for another 3 miles , where you’ll cross several small streams (doable by car) before you reach the parking lot. Fern Canyon is a short 1/4 mile trek from the parking lot.

Get out there and see this awesome place! So glad I got to spend a day in Fern Canyon.



Wear comfortable shoes that you don’t mind getting wet. Even with foot paths, you’ll end up crossing steams and scrambling over logs.

This place gets crowded, best bet is to get here early in the morning if you can.

Bring a snack. There are no facilities here, you’ll get hungry before you get back to town.

Here’s a handy MAP of the area.

Check out Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.

To see full sized photos from this story check out my Gallery.


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