The village of Caspar is almost invisible from the highway, and that’s the way its 500 or so residents like it. Casparados, as they call themselves, are fiercely independent individualists who pride themselves on caring for this special piece of the coastline. They came together to preserve their town’s headlands and other natural resources from development when the town’s lumber mill closed down. The headlands are now a state park, and Caspar residents can be seen removing invasive plants by hand on the fourth Saturday of each month, rain or shine.
Located between Fort Bragg and Mendocino, Caspar was one of the busiest mill towns in northern California for almost a century, churning out 45,000 board feet a day in its heyday. The only traces of this timber history are the ruins of some mill pilings that can be seen on Caspar State Beach, a pretty sandy beach fringed with wild grasses and windswept trees, which is a popular local surfing spot.
Despite its diminutive size, Caspar boasts no fewer than three state parks: Point Cabrillo Light Station, Caspar State Beach, and Jug Handle State Reserve. Just across the highway is Fortunate Farm, a biodiverse, sustainable farm with a weekly farm stand selling their fresh produce. Look for yoga classes in the garden during the summer.
There’s no real “downtown” in Caspar, but the historic schoolhouse is now the Community Center, and the Victorian-era Baptist church is now the Jewish Community Center and Shul. Both of these distinctive buildings can be glimpsed from the road and are the heart of this small, close-knit community. Nearby is the Caspar Inn, one of the oldest – and some say, the oldest – roadhouses in northern California, reimagined as a British pub by a charming couple from Yorkshire, bringing English specialties and hospitality to the Mendocino Coast. Staying true to the Inn’s heritage, live music is on tap on the weekends.