Most Del Norters know the lofty trees that surround them and the rugged coastline they live next to are pretty special. It turns out, others feel the same way.

After receiving feedback from travelers, authors and its own staff, Lonely Planet has ranked California’s Redwood Coast No. 1 in its Best in the U.S. 2018 list.

This designation encompasses the area from the southern Humboldt County line to the Oregon border and includes Redwood National and State Parks’ Lady Bird Johnson Grove and Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park’s Stout Grove.

The Redwood Coast’s No. 1 designation also coincides with the 50th anniversary of Redwood National and State Parks and the 100th anniversary of the Save the Redwoods League, said Lonely Planet writer Alison Bing, who penned the supporting article that was included in the travel guide’s Top 10 list.

“It was kind of a historic moment for the Redwood Coast, not only is it 50 years of the national and state parks and 100 years of preservation that underpinned that effort, but it’s always been the case that independent thinkers have headed north to the upper reaches of Northern California,” Bing said Friday.

In her article, not only does Bing describe redwood trees’ shallow root system, which form “a network of mutual support and subterranean communication that helps them stand tall through storms,” she also mentions recent movements to legalize marijuana as well as efforts to curtail illegal cannabis grows.

“There’s been a lot of focus on California this year in terms of travel and places where people can go (explore) wine country,” she said. “But also pot travel is certainly up and coming.”

Bing also noted recent wildfires as well as the drought have made many realize that despite its technology and entertainment sectors, tourism is a significant driver for California’s economy.

Bing said she didn’t need to do much research for her article, having married her husband at Lady Bird Johnson Grove. She said she and her husband spent their honeymoon at the Curly Redwood Lodge before exploring Stout Grove.

“It’s a really special place in the world and was recently carbon dated,” she said. “Some of those ancient trees are among some of the oldest redwoods. You’ve got something really special up there.”

Sarah Caron, interim executive director for the Crescent City-Del Norte County, said Lonely Planet’s designation gives “amazing exposure” for Del Norte County.

“I really do think that Lonely Planet nailed it with saying that we are No. 1 of the Top 10 ‘underrated rejuvenated out of this world spots to visit’,” Caron said. “The exposure that we’re going to get from this, I believe, is going to increase interest in our area.”

For Crescent City Mayor and Visitors Bureau Committee Chair Blake Inscore, being included in Lonely Planet’s Best in the U.S. 2018 list gives Del Norte County a credibility it wouldn’t have by simply marketing itself.

“It’s kind of like the difference between a restaurant running an advertisement versus you calling and saying, ‘Hey, Blake, you should check out this place,’” Inscore said, adding that Lonely Planet offers guidebooks for a variety of destinations from Antarctica to Africa. “That’s the big deal about having something like Lonely Planet saying this is a place you should go. It’s not just marketing, it’s like a referral, a reference. I think that’s the neatest thing about it.”

The Del Norte County Visitors Bureau signed a $100,000 contract this week with Bend, Oregon-based Vertigo Marketing to provide tourism promotion for the area, Inscore said. He said he was happy with the work Vertigo Marketing did to promote Port Angeles, Washington, also a small coastal town, and thought it would be a good fit for Del Norte.

Representatives with Vertigo Marketing will visit the area toward the end of the month, Inscore said.

“They’ll probably spend 3-4 days here,” he said. “We run them through everything. (We’ll) take them on a jet boat up the Klamath to the top of Trees of Mystery. They need to see what Del Norte County is all about because it’s an amazing place. We take it for granted.”

California’s Redwood Coast beat out Boise, Idaho, Chattanooga, Tennessee and Florida’s Space Coast for the No. 1 spot on Lonely Planet’s Best of the U.S. list this year. To find out what other destinations made the list, visit lonelyplanet.com/best-in-us.

Reach Jessica Cejnar at jcejnar@triplicate.com .

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