A new hostel within Redwood National and State Parks is on the horizon, but the location has yet to be determined.
Park officials held an open house Wednesday to gather public input on the building sites under consideration. Three sites are on the gently sloped field east of Enderts Beach Road and one is in the Mill Creek Addition near the site of the old Miller-Rellim Lodge.
There were a few gripes about breaking ground in an undeveloped area within the park, but for the most part, the preferred sites were the ones adjacent to Enderts Beach Road, all with ocean views and on the California Coastal Trail.
Site maps adorned the walls of the Lighthouse Inn conference room, displaying where the buildings might go. The maps showed how each site was outside of the flood plain expected to exist in the year 2100.
The State Coastal Conservancy funded the majority of the project’s planning and design phase that included site selection, environmental review and preliminary building design.
The conservancy used funds from a 2006 bond, and the project fits nicely with a conservancy goal of promoting access to and enjoyment of coastal resources.
“It can be very expensive to stay on the coast, especially with a family, but things like hostels make trips affordable,” said Peter Jarausch, conservancy project manager, at the open house.
Hostelling International USA operated the previous hostel, which was in the historic DeMartin house across Highway 101 from Wilson Creek Beach. The hostel had to be closed when it was found that the repairs needed to bring the building up to code where financially unfeasible. That site is not being considered due to historical uses by local Indian tribes.
Danielle Brumfitt, director of Hostelling International USA’s Northern California region, said that the hostel at the old DeMartin House was “without a doubt, one of our most popular hostels” and she is excited about having another hostel within park boundaries.
“As far north as we go right now is Point Reyes so there is a massive expanse where there are no hostels, and we would love to have hostels all up and down the California coastline,” Brumfitt said.
Nostalgia for the old hostel was a common theme at the open house, tempered with hope for the future.
Barbara Salonius, who worked at the hostel during the last three years it was open, was wearing a Redwood Hostel T-shirt. After living in Del Norte just a couple years, she wasn’t familiar with the hostel in her backyard until her son took a summer job there. Soon after, she quit her job as a pharmacy technician to work for the hostel.
The currency exchange for Euros to dollars was high during her tenure, so she met many European travelers and drank lots of tea.
“There were people backpacking that came on foot and people coming in Mercedes, but it didn’t matter — they were all the same when they came under the roof of the hostel,” said Salonius. She is looking forward to another hostel that offers an affordable option for folks to come and see what Del Norte has to offer. “I think it’s wonderful, I’m excited to have it come back.”