With New Year’s looming, myself and five of my friends decided to start the new year right with an adventure, so we packed up and set out to have one of the best road trips ever. We knew our end goal was to surf the famed waves in Tofino, Canada, but how we got there and what we saw was still up in the air.
Car fully loaded, we left Huntington Beach, California at 11:30 P.M. and drove non-stop to Redding, California. We arrived in Redding just before 8am, just in time for sunrise at the Sun Dial Bridge. The bridge was still frosted over from the cold night before making it extremely slippery. We were running and sliding down the bridge trying to warm up and loosen the legs. We grabbed some breakfast in town at a local cafe diner then were on our way to get a lakeside view of the famous Mount Shasta. When arriving at Lake Siskiyou, we were greeted with an amazing view of the top of Mount Shasta fully covered in fresh snow.
Lava Beds National Monument
We jumped back in the car to drive a few more hours to Lava Beds National Monument. This National Monument is truly underrated and deserves the National Park Title in my opinion. After you check in at the visitor desk, you’re cleared to go lava tube exploring. I highly recommend bringing a flash light as your cellphone won’t help much. The brighter your flashlight, the better opportunity you have for taking crisper images. If you’ve thought about visiting, definitely add it to your list!
Crater Lake National Park
We found a random motel for the night near the California/Oregon border in Klamath Falls. It was inexpensive and and the quaint town was very interesting. We had a neighbor in the motels who’s dog kept trying to break into our door, but other than that it was cozy. We set our alarms and awoke to leave at 5 A.M to catch the sunrise at the spectacular Crater Lake.
Crater Lake was everything I expected it to be. There was no one around at this hour and all you could hear the water in the lake below, and the wind was whipping hard! After spending a few hours here, we made our way north towards Olympic National Park to visit the Hoh Rain Forest.
The Hoh Rainforest is an incredible location. This was my 2nd time visiting the National Park on a road trip. I visited previously during the fall, so seeing it during winter was completely different. I loved the way the snow contrasted with the green moss, it seemed like an eerie dream. As cool as it was to experience this place in the fall, during the winter gives it a whole new aesthetic. I still prefer the look in the late summer/fall because everything is so green, damp, and foggy, but visiting this winter wonderland was still incredible.
Crossing the Border: Ferry To Victoria, Canada
The next morning, we woke early to catch our ferry from Port Angeles, Washington to Victoria, Canada. The sunrise was incredible and felt like it lasted for hours. Being this far north, in the winter months you are gifted with these long golden hours that pretty much last the whole day except a few hours at lunch. We stopped along the way to visit the Cathedral Grove forest. It was similar to the Hoh Rain Forest, but much denser. After Driving for a few more hours we finally made it to our final destination, Tofino!
I’ve been to Tofino, Canada numerous times in the summer for the Rip Curl Pro Tofino surf competition, but this was my first winter excursion. Snow was covering the nearby mountains, the waves were pumping, and the days were much shorter compared to the 12+ daylight hours during the summer months. Once we were settled in we went and surfed Cox Bay and Long Beach area, before visiting the local Tofino Hot Springs.
This spontaneous winter road trip through some of North America’s most beautiful settings reminded me that there is never a bad time for a road trip. Warm, cold, sun or snow, a road trip is always about connecting with your friends, and more importantly, connecting with yourself. And for me, there was no better way to start off a new year full of possibilities and new friendships and adventures.