Willits, California Photos - Mendocino County

Willits, California or Gateway to Redwoods is located in Mendocino County, known for its rich wine growing regions and tall redwood trees. Willits is located approximately 45 miles from the California Coast and town of Mendocino over an hour's drive away on California Highway 20.


Willits is one of several departure points for Skunk Train, an historic California railroad excursion between Fort Bragg and Willits. The Skunk Train is one of three excursion trains operated by the Sierra Railroad Company in California. The other trains are the Sierra Railroad Dinner Train (Oakdale) and Sacramento River Train (Woodland and West Sacramento).


Except for the passengers' high-tech cameras and modern garb, a time traveler from the last century would feel quite at home riding California Western Railroads Skunk Train in the 1990's. The view from the restored rail cars is pretty much unchanged: towering trees, deer drinking from the Noyo River, an isolated fisherman's cabin peeking from the forest. With occasional whistles as it chugs through tunnels, over bridges and past open meadows, the train follows the coastal "Redwood Route" as it has since 1885.  For Skunk Train fares and schedule, call 866-45-SKUNK or visit www.SkunkTrain.com.


Other attractions in and around Willits include Black Bart Casino, Brooktrails Golf Course, Redwood Trees, Ridgewood Ranch - Home of 'Seabiscuit' and Redwood Valley Wineries.

History: Mendocino County was one of California’s original 27 counties, created in 1850 by the State Legislature. Because of its small population, Mendocino County was administered by the government of Sonoma County until 1859, when the government was established in a small building on Main Street in Ukiah. County officials moved into the first courthouse at the site bounded by Standley, Perkins, State and Schools streets on January 24, 1860.


Mendocino County derives its name from Cape Mendocino, which lies northward of its northern boundary. Cape Mendocino was given its name by a famous Spanish navigator of the 16th century, Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo. Cabrillo discovered it in 1542 while on a voyage of discovery along the Pacific Coast and named it in honor of Don Antonio de Mendoza”, the first Viceroy of New Spain (Mexico), and the patron of the voyageur.


The first permanent Spanish settlers came to the area in the middle 16th century. It was almost 300 years before the first permanent non-Spanish settlements in the county were made on the coast north of Big River in April of 1852. Mendocino County encompasses an area of over 2 million acres or approximately 3500 square miles. 

Willits, California Photos - Mendocino County

Willits photos

Willits is home of Frontier Days, Redwood Trees and Skunk Train

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