Here in the West, sand comes in every color …


Green. Green Sand Beach, aka Papakolea Beach, Big Island, HI. One of just two this shade in the U.S.

Rainbow. Glass Beach, Fort Bragg, CA. Waves have polished the glass at this former dump into a sea of colored pebbles.

Black. Black Sands Beach, Shelter Cove, CA. Dark as night, on the longest undeveloped stretch in the lower 48.

Pink. Ruby Beach, Olympic National Park, WA. Pink tiger streaks at low tide—like the northern lights of sand.

Christopher Morrison

Finish your journey on Northern California’s Highway 20 with a stroll on Glass Beach


Chase the Sun

West of Interstate 5, the transition into the rolling hills of lake country is gradual. The road takes on a gentle grade, and I see more oaks and fewer farms until the steel blue expanse of Clear Lake appears. It’s enormous, spanning 44,000 acres, with Mt. Konocti looming behind. The road hugs the water’s edge, and I can hear waves batting at the piers.

Beyond the lake, a detour to Fife Redhead Vineyards rewards with a key picnic ingredient. The tasting room has a glorious view of shining Lake Mendocino, set off by the dusty chaparral all around. It’s a quick drive down the hill to the water, where winding Shakota Trail leads to another winery, this one abandoned and overrun with wild grapevines.

Highway 20 ends a mile short of Fort Bragg, but I continue north to Glass Beach, where there’s no road left to drive. As the sun sinks, I follow a path to the sand, stepping over limpet-covered rocks and dried sea palms. The sun, screened by fog, slips below the horizon. Waves fling themselves at my ankles, marking the limit of their eastward journey and the end of my travels west.

You May Like