Want to feel like you are on the surface of the moon without ever leaving the Earth? Head to Ten Mile Dunes. The stunning, 130-foot-high sandy dunes are nearly a mile wide and look like you are on another planet.
The dunes have been here for centuries, and are considered to be one of the most pristine coastal dunes in California. Decades of wind and storms have made the dunes drift over the haul road trail toward the forest. A closer look reveals that these unearthly sand hills are not a desert, as they appear to be at first glance. They are teeming with flora and fauna, some endangered and protected, like the Snowy Plover. This is a rare and special place.
Despite the name, the dunes are not ten miles long, though they are one of California’s longest dune systems. The name comes from the Ten Mile River on the dunes’ northern boundary, and the river’s mouth is ten miles north of the Noyo River in Fort Bragg. To reach the Ten Mile Dunes, drive north of Fort Bragg on Highway 1, past the entrance to MacKerricher State Park. You’ll find a large pullout on the left-hand side of the road. At the northern end of the pullout, there is a trail marker and a trail to the dunes.