Explore Dunes and Wildlife Habitat at Humboldt Coastal Nature Center

The Humboldt Coastal Nature Center is the gateway to the Redwood Coast’s Manila Dunes, and over 1,000 acres of coastal wildlife habitat. It lies between the Manila Dunes Recreation Area to the south and the Ma-le’l Dunes Cooperative Management Area and Lanphere Dunes to the north. The fragile habitats of these dunes offer unique experiences for beachcombing, picnicking, hiking, birding, horseback riding, nature study, and more. The Humboldt Coastal Nature Center is about a half hour drive from the Redwood Riverwalk Hotel in Fortuna, a great vacation location for nature lovers visiting the Redwood Coast.brown and green grasses on dunes along white and gray surf

Home to Friends of the Dunes, the Nature Center’s trails, programs, and exhibits “combine experiential education, conservation-minded recreational access, and hands-on restoration activities” to increase understanding and stewardship of the local coastal environments. The interpretive center is open to the public Wednesday through Sundays from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm.

There are ten different designated trails through the dunes and along the beach, shown on a map on their website. The trails (and restrooms) are open during daylight hours, and self-guided brochures are provided. Some of the trails also are designated for equestrian use. Dogs on leashes are welcome to enjoy the trails with their human companions.

Friends of the Dunes offer guided walks and programs at various coastal locations around Humboldt Bay. The majority of these take place at the Humboldt Coastal Nature Center, and the adjoining the Manila Dunes Recreation Area, and the Ma-le’l Dunes and Lanphere Dunes in the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Friends of the Dunes also hold several special events during the year, including the Lupine Bash in February, a Get Outside Gear Sale in April, Ocean Day and the Sand Sculpture Festival in June , and Wine by the Sea, scheduled this year on Saturday, October 5, 2019.

The Friends of the Dunes website also provides extensive information about the cultural history and natural history of this area, dune geology and ecology, and the physical geology and ecology of Humboldt Bay. The variety of dune habitats created around Humboldt Bay result from winter storms and floods that carry sand from the Mad and Eel Rivers to the ocean, ocean waves during summers that push these sands onto the nearby beaches, and prevailing summer winds from the northwest that shift these sands across the low landscape and among the vegetation.

Visitors to the Humboldt Bay area have many choices of beaches and dunes to explore. The Local section of The Redwood’s website includes a map highlighting the parks, recreation areas, wildlife habitats areas from the Eel River to Moonstone Beach where you can enjoy the Humboldt Bay Area beaches and dunes including descriptions of the services and facilities available at each of them. You also will find The Best of The Redwood Coast – a list of 25 Great Things to See and Do in Humboldt County.

Humboldt County is full of wonderful places for nature lovers to enjoy and The Redwood is your best base camp (hotel) on the Redwood Coast. So, give us a call (yes, we have real people waiting to speak with you) or write us a note (you guessed it, we have real people responding to emails as well) and let us help you plan your next vacation.

Photo courtesy of Humboldt Lodging Alliance

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