Explore the Outdoors of Mendocino County
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Outdoor Adventures in Mendocino County California

Things to Do on a Rainy Mendocino Day

Favorite Things to do on a Rainy Mendocino Day

We are having another wet winter in Mendocino County and more rain is in the forecast. Don’t despair, rainy days are beautiful days!!! The air smells so fresh and clean when it rains. The trees and ferns glisten shine with sparkles of water. Watch out for rainbows - the sun often pokes out among our rain showers and gives us a colorful show.

Rainbow over a whitewater kayaker on Mendcoino County’s Eel River. Photo courtesy of Liquid Fusion Kayaking.

What do you do when it is raining in Mendocino?

Go for a Walk

Put on your rain jacket (and maybe rain pants) and go for a walk or a hike.  My favorite place to walk on a rainy day is in the forest.  If you don’t have a lot of time and want to experience the beauty of the redwood forest in the rain, check out Fort Bragg’s Otis Johnson Park.  Another nice rainy day walk is the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens.

Otis Johnson Park has a Redwood Forest that is walking distance from downtown Fort Bragg.

Go for a Hike

If you have a bit of time and want to go for a hike.  Van Damme’s Fern Canyon is spectacular during or after rain.  There are lots of waterfalls that cascade down the canyon into the creek.  (The creek is called Little River, but it isn’t much of a river).  If it is really windy, it is safer to stay out of the forest because wind will blow branches and trees down onto the trail.

Hiking Fern Canyon in Van Damme State Park on the Mendocino Coast. Photo by June Ruckman

Ride the Train

If you want to experience the forest but don’t want to brave the elements, take a ride on the Skunk Train.  On the train, you can see the beauty of the redwood forest from a dry seat in one of their cars.  If you are inland, you can ride the train out of Willits.  On the coast, you catch the train in Fort Bragg.

Go River Kayaking

Unless the rivers are flooded, the coastal rivers are fun to paddle on rainy days.  You will be surprised how serene it is to be on the water during the rain and amazed at how much wildlife you see.  Definitely check the river flows and tides before going.  If you don’t have your own kayak, kayaks can be rented from Subsurface Progression or Catch a Canoe.

Inland Mendocino County’s whitewater rivers flow in the late winter and spring when the ground is saturated, and we get an inch or more of rain.  Mendocino County has Class II-V whitewater.  The Eel River and Russian River are the primary rivers for whitewater river running.  If you are not an experienced whitewater kayaker, check out Liquid Fusion Kayaking.  They are the local Mendocino kayaking experts.  They teach and guide sea kayaking, whitewater kayaking, and surf kayaking.

Whitewater kayaking on the Eel River. Photo courtesy of Liquid Fusion Kayaking.

Warm up By the Oven

One of my favorite rainy (and foggy) day activities is going to Glass Fire on the southern end of Fort Bragg.  In the morning, they are often blowing glass and you can watch them make amazing glass creations like jelly fish.  Swing by and check them out.  If you have your rain jacket, the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens is right next door and is a good spot for a rainy day stroll.

The Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens are colorful on a rainy day.

Enjoy a Hot Cup of Chowder or Fresh Fish and Chips

I love Noyo Harbor during a storm.  If you are hungry after an adventure, you can enjoy a tasty bowl of clam chowder at Silver’s at the Wharf.  Or get some fish and chips and a fresh pint of craft beer at Django’s Rough Bar.  Both spots are right on the water where you can watch the river flow by.

Django’s Rough Bar is a great spot for fish and chips and a fresh beer.

Django’s Rough Bar is a great spot for fish and chips and a fresh beer.

Curl up with a Book

After playing about in the rain, I like to curl up in front of the fire with a cup of hot chocolate and a book.

The wood stove keeps us toasty warm on rainy days.

The wood stove keeps us toasty warm on rainy days.

Guide’s Tip - Buy a good rain jacket and rain pants.

About 10 years ago, I finally broke down and bought a good pair of rain pants.  Before buying the rain pants, I dealt with the cool chill of soggy pants.  With rain pants, I find myself enjoying rainy day hikes and walks so much more.  It is really nice to be warm and dry at the end of a hike.  If you are looking for rain gear, The Outdoor Store in Fort Bragg carries a variety of quality gear.  I don’t shop much inland but have seen a nice selection of rain gear at Pacific Outfitters in Ukiah.

Thanks Mom for the new rain jacket!!!

Cate Hawthorne