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Northern California

Calochortus, Calypsos and Coyotes

From the cathedral-like atmosphere of Coastal Redwood Groves to Sagebrush-covered hillsides, and from the snowy Cascades Range to the unspoilt Klamath Coast, the Western Seaboard of America is home to atremendously rich flora. Paintbrushes, Penstemons, Phloxes and meadows of blue Camassias provide an arena for a multitude of Irises and kaleidoscopic Calochortuses.

Calochortus amoenus © Sandy Steinman

These are the signature plants of this tour. Nine or more Calochortuses include wonderfully-named Elegant Cat’s-ear and Golden Fairy Lantern. There are the etched blooms of Calochortus superbus andrich pink Calochortus splendens, two of the finest, along with furry Calochortus tolmiei and sun-faced Calochortus monophyllus. Lilium maritimum holds out stunning red bloomsthough arguably Lilium pardalinum is even more spectacular. We’ll seeCalifornia Fawn Lily, palest yellow Erythronium oregonum, Erythronium purpurascens, andgreat swathes of Erythronium citrinum. Fritillaries include affinis, Atropurpurea, glauca and the striking Scarlet Fritillary. Colonies of the carnivorous pitchers of Darlingtonia californica carpet bogs amidst Douglas Firs and with them the beautiful Californian Lady’s Slipper Orchid. There are Giant Trilliums, spectacular Xerophyllum tenax, a wonder with stunning tubular red flowers, the Hummingbird-pollinated Firecracker Flower, and the perfectly-formed little Calypso Orchid.

Cedar Waxwings and Townsend’s Solitaires inhabit these flowery forests along with White-headed, Nuttall’s and Lewis’ Woodpeckers. Among the Redwoods we’ll find the beautiful Varied Thrush while pretty Lazuli Buntings and immaculately-plumaged California Quail are denizens of coastal scrub. On the coast we’ll see majestic Bald Eagles and there’s Pacific Loons and Pigeon Guillemots alongside flocks of Surf Scoter. There are plenty of mammals too, ranging from Coyotes and chipmunks, through Tule Elk and Pronghorn Antelope, to giant Northern Elephant Seals and Californian Sea Lions.

Calypso © Fiona Dunbar

Dates and Prices

14th May - 29th May 2025 (16 days)

London - London £6,500
San Francisco - San Francisco £5,880
Single Supplement* £895
Deposit £500

* doesn't apply if you're willing to share and a room-mate can be arranged

or ask us a question.

Please note; dates and prices are provisional and will be confirmed by August 2024

Tour Summary

Day 1
Arrive San Francisco
Days 2 & 3
Point Reyes National Park
Days 4 & 5
The Mendocino Pass
Days 6-8
Coastal Redwood Country
Days 9-12
Mount Shasta including Willow Creek and Lewiston Lake
Days 13 & 14
Tehama and Clear Lake
Day 15
To San Francisco. Depart for UK
Day 16
Arrive UK

Tour information


Flowers, especially Irises, Calochortus and Fritillarias. Also Mammals, Butterflies, Birds and Landscapes.


Paul Cardy

Group Size

The minimum is 5 and the maximum is 10.

Included in the Price

All flights. All transport, accommodation and breakfasts in the USA. Services of your leaders. Please note: Drinks, tips and items of a personal nature such as insurance, are not included. Flower, mammal and bird checklists are available.


We start with three nights at the Four Points by Sheraton in San Rafael, a good comfortable hotel and a great base from which to explore the fantastic Point Reyes National Park. A two night stay at the Wagon Wheel Inn at Covelo below the Mendocino Pass will provide something of a contrast being pretty basic! Moving north into Del Norte County we’ll go back upmarket again at the renowned Klamath Inn, a lovely old wooden hotel overlooking a river. Near Mount Shasta we stay at the McCloud Hotel, a charming old wooden hotel opposite an ‘old trains and carriages’ centre. The well-furnished rooms have baths and showers and very comfortable beds. The last two nights in California will be spent at the Konocti Harbour Resort, which as its name suggests is on the shore of a lake! All rooms on this holiday have en suite facilities.


Very easy. Up to three or four miles a day though usually less and always at a slow pace, perfectly suited to photographers.


UK return flights are direct from London Heathrow* to San Francisco. Other indirect routes from regional UK Airports* are available.

*These routes may incur a supplement.


Generally warm and sunny, though variable and sometimes quite cool, especially at higher altitude. Occasional rain, sometimes prolonged, should be expected.

How to Book

Contact us to check if there is availability for the number of places you require. Click on the ‘Book this Tour’ button on this page to be taken to the online booking form or contact us and we will send one to you which you can complete and send back to us. You will receive confirmation of your place, and then a detailed information pack will be dispatched to you about twelve weeks before departure. This will contain up-to-date health information.