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Willits, California and the Skunk Train

Willits, California


June 11, 2005


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After a full day in Willits, riding the Skunk Train Motorcar M100 from Willits, over the mountain to Northspur, and back, we were ready for a good night's sleep before continuing our vacation on up Highway 101 through California then through Oregon and Washington.

Where to Stay in Willits, California:

The Baechtel Creek Inn & Spa
101 Gregory Lane
Willits · CA

Toll Free 1 (800) 459-9911

Office (707) 459-9063 · Fax (707) 459-0226

It is obvious, when you stay at the Baechtel Creek Inn & Spa in Willits, California, after a day of riding the Skunk Train, what the difference is between an Inn and a Hotel or other accommodations.  If it is not obvious when you first pull into the drive, it certainly is when you enter the lobby, and especially when you reach your room.


Those who ride the Skunk Train from Fort Bragg to Willits can reserve a package including a stay at the Baechtel Creek Inn.  Guests receive transportation back to the station the next morning for the trip back over the mountain.



The rooms are furnished with antiques and the fixtures and tile work is the quality of a new model home.  The walls and ceilings are professionally textured.  Every detail is repesentative of quality work.  Free high-speed wireless Internet is an important feature for a writer like me, as well as casual and business guests.  Pool and spa are available, and continental breakfast.  Seabiscuit was raised and trained just south of town, and literature and souvenirs are available in the Baechtel Creek Inn's lobby.


Our room was professionally decorated with a desk and chairs (not shown).


Jan Rodriguez welcomed us at the new reception desk.

The Baechtel Creek Inn's website has a nice map of the 40 railroad route between Willits on US Hwy 101 and Fort Bragg on the coast.  The have a good description of what you will see along the route.  It is nice to see businesses supporting each other and providing packages for travelers making trip-planning much less stressful by taking care of all the details.


Each month the Willits Skunk Train has a Special Event.  This month was a "Rail Ale and Wine Trip - Tropical Party."  It was advertised "for adults with complimentary drink and appetizers.  This 1.5 hour trip departs at 6 pm.  A Special evening train like this is run once a month from May to October."  It just happened to take place the same evening we were in town, so we took advantage of the opportunity to ride another Skunk Train!

Nothing in Willits is far away so in about 5 minutes I drove from our room at the Baechtel Creek Inn to the Willits Station.  There was no crowd, so I had time to walk around the station to photograph some murals I'd seen on the station walls earlier.


I noticed the last name on the painting is the same as the Train Singer's.  There's much talent in that family!


Soon #64 was ready to pull the Tropical Party up the mountain.

Adam issued my ticket and I boarded.



Cousins from Castro Valley, CA, Carolyn (left) and Judy (right) were taking this Skunk Train as their first train ride.


Pam (left) the engineer's wife, and Donna, also from Willits, enjoyed the evening as well.


Clint Watkins, Willits Depot Manager, was onboard.  He's been with the Skunk Train through the bankruptcy, the year of being run by the court, and now with Sierra RR, the new owners and operators.

Jim and Arlene managed the complimentary drinks and appetizers and were dressed for the Tropical Party as well.



At Crowley siding in the big trees, they cut #64 loose.  She moved around to take the lead back down the mountain to Willits as the sun began to set in the west.

As No. 64 headed for the barn, I was glad I'd ridden the Skunk trains.  I enjoyed myself as other guests had and slept in great Inns and Lodges in Fort Bragg and Willits and dined at the Cliff House in Fort Bragg.  This had been a great package and I recommend it to anyone traveling Hwy. 101 or 1 in Northern California.

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