Monthly Archives: August 2006

Hot August Nights…?

Brrrr…it is mighty foggy this August! Pack a sweater, because the redwoods are misty these days. This summer we’ve met a number of families escaping the heat in their hometowns (in Texas, Southern California, Germany, etc.). It’s hard to imagine the rest of the country under sweltering heat.

HI-Redwood Hostel is directly across from the Pacific Ocean in a little cove called False Klamath Cove. We’re only a few miles from the Klamath River’s real cove, so it’s only fair to assume that over the years at least one exhausted ship captain made a wrong turn. Abraded driftwood, the loose logs rubbed between the ocean’s palms, piles up in the wintertime. But now, the choicest pieces have been picked, domesticated in backyards. I like to stand near the bridge, close to where Wilson Creek runs into the ocean, and watch birds, knowing I’m only five miles from the inland heat but feeling, on this edge of an ecosystem, feeling like I’m standing in another world.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a hostel?

We welcome many first-time hostellers and so aren’t surprised when this question pops up. Perhaps you’ve made a reservation because this is the cheapest lodging in the region, but you aren’t quite sure what to expect. Where do I sleep, you may ask. Where do I eat? Do I get to shower in private, or will I be sharing my shampoo with a family from France?

Never fear, for the answers are here. Yet this first answer is the most difficult to define, because a hostel is many things. It’s inexpensive lodging with a complete self-service kitchen, saving you the expense of eating out. It’s a place to learn about the local area and meet travellers from all over the world (in any given month, we welcome people from Ireland, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Canada, Germany, Denmark, Australia, Poland, South Africa, Scotland, the United States and everywhere in between).

A hostel has usually had many incarnations. Redwood Hostel used to be the home of the De Martin family, who raised sheep and goats on this land more than one hundred years ago. Other hostels used to be mansions, lighthouses, military outposts, farmhouses and even castles.

Fun fact: there are roughly 110 hostels in the United States and 4,000 hostels in 60 countries worldwide. We are members of the largest organization of hostels, Hostelling International. To be precise, we belong to the Golden Gate Council of Hostelling International-USA.

Coming and Going

When can I check in?

From 4 – 10 p.m.

When must I check out?

By 11 a.m. on your final day.

Does the hostel close during the day?

Not anymore! Beginning June 1, 2007, registered guests have 24-hour access to the hostel.

Can I check-in early?

If you’re with a group of 10 or more people, then you can rent the hostel for day-use at the rate of $100 for a full day (11 a.m.-4 p.m.) or $60 for a half day (1:30 p.m.-4 p.m.). Keep in mind, however, the hostel will also be open to registered guests during that time.

Another way to arrive early is by bicycle or bus. We understand that folks traveling by bike or on public transportation have less control over the time they arrive at the hostel. Please call to make arrangements for an early bike/bus check-in.


Where do I sleep?

In a shared or private room. We have four shared rooms: Hupa, Wiyot and Chalula (6 beds each) or Yurok (8 beds). There are two private rooms: Karuk has one queen bed, while Tolowa comes with a queen bed on the bottom and a single bunk bed on top, ideal for families with young children or up to three adults. We can also convert a shared room into a private room for your group, if you pay a small surcharge.


Where do I eat?

In our kitchen. It features 2 new stoves and ovens, a microwave, 2 toasters, pots, pans, utensils, cutting boards, plates, bowls, cups, glasses, can openers, graters, peelers, Tupperware, kitchen towels, cutting knives, etc. Not to mention ample spices, cooking oil, salt, pepper, and often an orange or tub of butter left behind by another traveller.

In short, our kitchen has everything but the groceries. Stock up in Crescent City if you’re coming from the north (Safeway, Harvest Natural Foods, Ray’s Supermarket, Rainbow Grocery Outlet, Shop Smart) or in Klamath if you’re coming from the south (Klamath Market, Woodland Villa).

But what if I’m hungry and don’t feel like driving?

Glad you asked. While we support local businesses and are glad to see hostellers buying jugs of milk at the Klamath Market, we also have some goodies available at Snack-quoia Sempervirens, our little store.


Is there a bathroom in my room?

None of our rooms have private bathrooms; however, the bathrooms and showers are just a few steps down the hallway.

Do I get to shower in private, or will I be sharing my shampoo with a family from France?

You get to shower in private. We have three showers, each with a lock for privacy.

Do you have Internet, cell phone reception, and TV?

No, no and no. Because the hostel is situated in a remote area on the North Coast, there isn’t access to reliable Internet, cell phone signals and cable TV. During the rainy season we’ll bring out a DVD/VCR player and show some
movies and documentaries, but that’s about the extent of high technology in these parts. We do have a payphone and have phone cards for sale.

If you have your own laptop, there are several places in Crescent City that have free Wi-Fi, including a coffee shop (The Coffee Corner), a diner (Glen’s), a deli (Chomperz), and breakfast/lunch restaurant (Good Harvest Cafe).  If you don’t have your own computer, the Coffee Corner and the county library are your two choices for finding a computer or kiosk.

Is the hostel clean?

Maybe you aren’t asking this question, but you’re probably thinking it. Yes, the hostel is immaculate! During our most recent inspection by Hostelling International, in February 2007, we scored 103.3% overall. We’re one of the highest-scoring hostels in the country. And as part of the hostelling experience, we gladly say “yes” whenever a hosteller asks if they can help out with a chore.

This is definitely not a party zone. In fact, alcohol isn’t allowed and smoking is relegated to the parking lot below.  HI-Redwood Hostel is a quiet, safe place to get away from everything (everything except the beach, forest and lagoon, that is.)

Can I do laundry at the hostel?

Sure. We have a washer and dryer, and sell laundry soap at the office. Please limit laundering to the evening hours of 4-10 p.m. (so last load should be started by 8:30pm). The machines are located next to a sleeping room, and we don’t want anyone to have to fall asleep to the sounds of your jeans going through the spin cycle.

Does the hostel recycle?

We recycle plastic, glass, tin cans, aluminum cans, paper, cardboard, batteries, and food waste (we practice vermiculture, or worm-composting). The bins are located under the dining room side of the countertop and under the sinks. Please thoroughly rinse and flatten these items or they will mold, smell and attract bears when placed outside for pick-up.

Did you just say you practice worm composting?

Yep. Well, technically I didn’t say it, I wrote it. (Pardon us, the current managers were both English majors). It’s a great way to turn leftover food into high-quality soil that gardeners like to call “Black Gold.” To learn more about vermiculture, visit We currently have 4 pounds of the little guys living in worm bins, which are kept inside a locked shed at the top of the hill, so as not to attract bears.

Should I be afraid of the bears?

Black bears do live in this region, but they are much more afraid of you than you are of them. Before embarking on a hike from the hostel, read the posted notices that offer tips for avoiding bears and mountain lions (and what to do in the event of an encounter). You can also print bear tips from the Internet.

Last Fall, one particularly pesky bear raided the hostel´s Dumpster a few times. He managed to perform a few belly flops on the lid, causing a complete cave-in. The kindly folks from the National Park Service ordered us a brand new, bear-proof Dumpster, and the bear retreated to the woods. If more ursine neighbors should happen to visit the hostel, we will make sure everyone is well aware and take precautions.

How do you heat the hostel?

We have a pellet wood stove in the common room that keeps the hostel toasty. For additional heat, each sleeping room has an electric heater which is quiet, efficient and safe.


Do I have to be young to stay at a hostel?

Not anymore. The first official hostel, back in 1909, was begun by German schoolteachers looking for an inexpensive place for the kids to stay on backcountry trips. Hostels were geared towards young travellers in the early decades, but today we welcome everyone and there is no age limit.

When you say everyone, does that include families? I have a young child.

This is a common concern for parents. The hostel is ideal for families–it’s clean, quiet and safe. Just ask us. Our 21-month-old son likes to crawl up and down the stairs and “reorganize” the pots & pans cabinet every morning. And all the while, he’s surely safe.

Is Redwood Hostel accessible to disabled travellers?

Certainly! The hostel has ramps, first-floor sleeping rooms, and an ADA-approved bathroom and shower with a fold-out bench and adapted shower nozzle. Please let us know when you are coming, and we’ll ensure your needs are met.

Are pets allowed?

Sorry, but only service animals are allowed at the hostel. Please call to make arrangements.

Going Outside

What’s the weather like?

Expect a little of everything. The wet season runs from November through April, more or less, and it’s cool and sunny the rest of the year. Afternoons get windy, as we’re near the ocean, and summer mornings are foggy. Want to be prepared? Find the weather outlook

How far are you from the ocean?

Three minutes. (And that’s walking–not driving).

Miscellaneous Questions

What if I forget something?

We’ll keep it in our Lost & Found for one month. Please call and we will send it to you, although we may ask you to cover shipping costs. After a month, we need to clear out the Lost & Found, and unclaimed items are donated to charity.

Is the hostel privately owned?

No. HI-Redwood Hostel is one of nine hostels in northern California operated by the Golden Gate Council, which is a non-profit, membership organization affiliated with Hostelling International. Our mission is “to help all, especially the young, gain a greater understanding of the world and its people through hostelling.”
And though Hostelling International runs the hostel, the building and land are part of Redwood National and State Parks.

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Top 10 Things To Do


Our Top 10 Things to Do

1. While the tide is low, walk to Battery Point Lighthouse in Crescent City. It’s the oldest continuously operating lighthouse in the U.S., and a 200-foot sandbar between the mainland and lighthouse makes it inaccessible except at low tide. Supposedly a ghost haunts Battery Point, which turned 150 this year. Open April-September.


2. Take a hike. Just a stone’s throw from the hostel you’ll find dozens of trails zig-zagging hundreds of miles through redwood forests, marshland, prairie, coniferous forests and woodland. Here are a few of our hostellers’ favorites:

a) Hostel to Trees of Mystery and beyond (4-7 miles, fairly easy): Climb the steps next to the hostel and hike 2 miles to the Trees of Mystery (see #3). Cross the road and continue .5 miles to Hidden Beach—tucked out of sight from the World—and on your way back, the trail meets up with the Coastal Trail.

b) Tall Trees area: Drive 17 miles south to Redwood Information Center, just past Orick, and grab a free permit to Tall Trees Grove (only 50 vehicle permits are issued each day). Hike Tall Trees Trail (1.2 miles, moderate) to see the world’s tallest trees on the alluvial flat formed by Redwood Creek. The trails connects to Emerald Ridge Trail (2.8 miles, moderate), which meets Dolason Prairie Trail (4.75 miles, moderate) and leads to a back country camp in the middle of the wilds.
c) Damnation Creek (2.5 miles each way, strenuous): Drive a few miles north on Highway 101 to milepost 16 and park in the turnout, then walk down a steep trail that drops 1000 feet—yes, it’s also a 1000-foot climb back up, but folks say it’s worth every laborious step. Old growth meets the sea, spectacularly.

d) Fern Canyon (various trails, easy-to-moderate). This lush, deep canyon near the coast is decorated in seven fern species, lining the walls like a Jurassic landscape. From the hostel, drive south on Highway 101 through Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, and turn right at Davison Road. Follow the gravel road to Gold Bluffs Beach, and continue another 15 minutes to Fern Canyon. Day-use fee of $6 per vehicle.

e) Lady Bird Johnson Grove (1 mile loop, easy): Herein lies the spot where President and Mrs. Johnson dedicated Redwood National Park in 1967. This loop is a nice old-growth walk with detailed ecological information. Drive 15 miles south of the hostel on Highway 101 to Bald Hills Road, turn left and follow the signs.


3. Ride a gondola into the Trees of Mystery (707-482-2251). Excellent for families and anyone else who love the trees, but doesn’t want to work too hard reaching them. It does cost money and the gargantuan statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox strike some as kitschy, but everyone needs a little kitsch now and then. Don’t miss the Native American museum (free!) and gift shop (also free, unless you buy something).

Just 1.5 miles south of the hostel. Look for gargantuan statues on the side of the road.


4. Visit injured seals and sea lions at the Northcoast Marine Mammal Center in Crescent City. Harbor seals, endangered Stellar Sea Lions and other critters live outside in pens and can be visited anytime; read below for gift shop hours and the feeding schedule. The center is a working hospital and not designed as a tourist attraction, so it’s low key, but visitors are welcome.
Daily feedings at 8 a.m., noon, 4 p.m. & 8 p.m. Take Highway 101 North, left on Front Street, left into City Park, right onto Howe Drive, which runs parallel to the ocean, and center is at the end. Donations accepted. (707) 465-6265.


5. Go tidepooling. The nearest spot is just across the street at Wilson Beach, and at low tide you can scramble onto the rocks for a look at marine life. Also, Lagoon Creek is ¼ mile south of the hostel on the right and another good spot is Enderts Beach, a ½-mile walk down the Coastal Trail from the Crescent Beach Overlook, about 11 miles north of the hostel off Highway 101. Check our information board for the tide chart, or logon to plan your tidepooling. (Click on Crescent City at the bottom). Be careful near the sea. "Sneaker waves" have been known to pull unsuspecting tidepoolers into the ocean…


6. Play on your computer. While it’s not exactly wilderness trekking, we understand that sometimes the day is best spent whiled away with a laptop and a cup of joe. For the closest free Wi-Fi access, drive 6 miles south of the hostel to the Pem-Mey store/gas station in Klamath. Espresso, snacks, Subway sandwiches and an unsecured Internet connection await you. Must have own laptop. The other options are north of us in Crescent City (about 13 miles), and include a corner coffee shop (Coffee Corner on the corner of Highway 101 South and 5th Street, which also has a computer for rent); a bakery/diner (Glen’s on 3rd Street); a restaurant with some fine vegetarian options as well as good beer (the Good Harvest Cafe, in front of Home Depot); and a deli (Chomperz, off Northcrest Drive).  If you don’t have your o
wn computer, try the Del Norte County Library off Front Street in Crescent City (Tuesday-Friday 1-6 pm, Sat. 10 am-1 pm) or Tech Town Computers on Highway 101 North / 4th Street in Crescent City, next to Denny’s.


7. Watch the birds. Del Norte County is a migratory hot spot in the spring, with myriad species clamoring for space across the road from the hostel at False Klamath Rock, or off the coast of Crescent City at Castle Rock National Wildlife Refuge.  Follow the California Birding Trail ( or print a list of Del Norte County’s birdlist (


8. Swing. At City Park in Crescent City, you’ll find a public swimming pool and Castle PlayLand for kids and toddlers–with plenty of swings–as well as a fantastic view of the ocean, picnic tables, grass and the Crescent City Cultural Center & Chamber of Commerce. The library is across the street (Tuesday-Friday 1-6 pm, Sat. 10 am-1 pm).
From the hostel, take Highway 101 North for 13 miles, turn left at Front Street, and turn left at Play Street.


9. Drive a little…see a lot. We must admit, sometimes it does rain a bit. Okay, it can pour. This is an opportune moment to remind everyone that without 80-plus inches of annual rainfall, those glorious Redwoods filling the memory cards of our digital cameras would turn brittle from thirst, and their shallow roots would weaken into scraggly threads of rope, toppling tree after mighty tree. Just so you know.

For those soggy days, hop in the car and pick a route:

A) Drive 10 miles south of the hostel to Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway, which leads into Prairie Creek State Park (thick clusters of Redwoods, herds of Roosevelt Elk, creeks, prairie).

B) Drive south over the Klamath River and take the first exit to the Coastal Drive. This meandering crawl is an unpaved marvel. Stop when you spot two farmhouses below. These "houses" were actually a U.S. military outpost built after Pearl Harbor, when Americans feared a Japanese attack by sea.

C) Drive 10 miles north to Elk Valley Road, turn right and then turn right onto Howland Hills Road, which is 9 miles long and takes 60 minutes to drive (the closest you’ll get to driving through a tree without paying $5.95).

10. Get in the water! You can swim, surf, kayak or canoe the rivers, oceans & lagoons. Our most recommended kayak outfitter to the south is Kayak Zak’s (for lagoon kayak rentals or guided sea kayaking) at 707-498-1130 … and to the north is Lunker Fish Trips (for kayaking the Smith River) at 707-458-4704. Both outfitters are seasonal, usually from Memorial Day thru Labor Day. Our fave surfing outfitter is Noll Surfboards in Crescent City, at 707-465-4400. If you want to get crazy and charter a boat into the ocean for deep-sea fishing, try Tally Ho II at 707-464-1236.


3 Extras: If the above don’t keep you busy all day, try a jet boat tour up the Klamath River from May thru September (Klamath River Jet Boat Tours at 707-482-7775), tour the Redwoods in the Fun Bus (707-482-0227) or watch the sea lions and schooners at Crescent City Harbor.


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Back on the blog

We’re back!

 After two foiled trial runs at blogspot and blogomonster (popular blog hosting sites), we think the hostel has found a permanent virtual home.  So, the blog is back. A blog is basically an online journal, and our blog is geared towards future guests of HI-Redwood National Park Hostel in Northern California. Our official website has all the pertinent pre-reservation stuff (prices, accommodations, amenities). The blog, on the other hand, is more free form, with Frequently Asked Questions, the latest news, links to topics with a local interest, Our Top 10 Things To Do When You Can’t Be Here, etcetera–in short, all of the "happenings" that are happening in and near the hostel.

 Check back every week or so, and let us know what you think.



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