Skunk Train Willits Depot

Skunk Train Willits Depot

299 East Commercial St.
Willits, California 95490
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Local Phone: (866) 457-5865

Except for the passengers' high-tech cameras and modern garb, a time traveler from the last century would feel quite at home riding California Western Railroads Skunk Train in the 1990's.

The view from the restored rail cars is pretty much unchanged: towering trees, deer drinking from the Noyo River, an isolated fisherman's cabin peeking from the forest. With occasional whistles as it chugs through tunnels, over bridges and past open meadows, the train follows the coastal "Redwood Route" as it has since 1885.

Built as a logging railroad, the Skunk line began that year as a logical vehicle for moving massive redwood logs to Mendocino Coast sawmills from the rugged back country.

Steam passenger service was started in 1904, extended to the town of Willits in 1911, and discontinued in 1925 when the self-powered, yellow "Skunk" rail cars were inaugurated. The little trains were quickly nicknamed for their original gas engines, which prompted folks to say, "You can smell 'em before you can see 'em."

• Dogs welcome for a $10 fare. 
• Please keep your dogs on leash the entire trip.
• If your dog is spooked by loud noises, this is not a good trip for them., dog friendly, train, historic, redwoods, steam

Cooper - Photo Credit: @littlecooperbear
Cooper - Photo Credit: @littlecooperbear
The Mendocino Coast is rich in natural attractions, from beaches and redwood forests to vast networks of trails where you and your pup can hike to your hearts' content. And then there are the manmade attractions, from the dog-friendly Skunk Train to specially rigged outrigger canoes at Catch A Canoe in which dogs can ride with their paddling people, to the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardensmore »
Wednesday rides the Skunk Train, Fort Bragg <br/> Photo Credit: @wandering_wednesday
Wednesday rides the Skunk Train, Fort Bragg
Photo Credit: @wandering_wednesday
The chug-chug and urgent whistle call of an approaching train is always exciting, especially when a vintage steam engine leads the charge. How can you hear it and see it and not want to be on it? Several family-friendly excursion trains in California welcome dogs as well as parents, grandparents and youngsters aboard. Here’s a rundown. more »
All Aboard (Dogs, too)!
Excursion-train rides are fun for the whole family, and several lines in Northern California allow dogs to ride along, too. Our pick for a fall rail outing: Pumpkin Trains at the Western Railway Museum in Solano Countymore »
Photo Credit: Chandelier Tree, Redwood Coast (CC)
Photo Credit: Chandelier Tree, Redwood Coast (CC)
Drive north on Highway 1 from Fort Bragg, and you’ll soon turn away from the coast and enter the county’s “Inland Empire.” It’s about an hour to Leggett, where the road merges with Highway 101 and the Redwood Coast begins. more »
Kayla boards the Skunk Train
All Aboard!
One of the most entertaining ways to experience Mendocino County’s majestic redwoods is aboard the historic (and dog-friendly) Skunk Train, so named because the self-propelled, gasoline-powered “railbus” cars introduced in the 1920s stunk to high heaven. Today, four-hour, dog-friendly round trips out of Willits dive deep into the woods, while one-hour round trips more »
Spunky little dog near Lake Mendocino
Spunky little dog near Lake Mendocino. Photo: Swift Benjamin
Drive north on Highway 1 from Fort Bragg, and you’ll soon leave the coast and turn inland. It’s about an hour to Leggett, where the road merges with Highway 101 and the Redwood Coast begins. Leggett is home to one of the North State's most enduring roadside attractions, the Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree, a centuries-old coast redwood that was transformed into a tourist stop in the 1930's, when a 6-foot-wide tunnel was bored through it. Visitors ever since have been driving their cars into the opening and snapping photos with kids and dogs waving hands and paws out the windows. more »
dog boarding the Skunk Train
A tunnel collapse on Mendocino County’s dog-friendly Skunk Train line has inspired a new campaign titled Save Our Skunk to raise more than $300,000 needed to resume full train routes. The Skunk Train is one of Northern California’s most popular activities, and draws riders from around the world.

The Train is privately owned and managed, and has key historical significance. When San Francisco had to be rebuilt after the 1906 earthquake, the Skunk Train became the vital link to haul the lumber, people and supplies. Hundreds of thousands of travelers have enjoyed Skunk Train rides through towering redwoods. more »
Photo Credit: Mark Cosy (CC)
Photo Credit: Mark Cosy (CC)
Noyo Harbor BeachA mere glimpse of Mendocino’s gorgeously sculpted coastline is all it takes to turn urban angst into rural revelation. The scenery is so intoxicating you can happily spend a week along the Highway 1 corridor without venturing beyond sight or sound of the sea. more »
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