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Humboldt County, California facts for kids

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County of Humboldt
Aerial view of Humboldt Bay
Aerial view of Humboldt Bay
Official seal of County of Humboldt
Location in the state of California
Location in the state of California
Country United States
State California
Region California North Coast
Incorporated May 12, 1853
Named for Humboldt Bay, which was named after Alexander von Humboldt
County seat Eureka
Largest city Eureka
 • Total 4,052 sq mi (10,490 km2)
 • Land 3,568 sq mi (9,240 km2)
 • Water 484 sq mi (1,250 km2)
Highest elevation
6,956 ft (2,120 m)
 • Total 136,463
 • Density 38/sq mi (15/km2)
Time zone UTC−8 (Pacific Time Zone)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−7 (Pacific Daylight Time)
Area codes 707, 530

Humboldt County is a county in the U.S. state of California. As of the 2020 census, the population was 136,463. The county seat is Eureka.

Humboldt County comprises the Eureka–ArcataFortuna, California Micropolitan Statistical Area. It is located on the far North Coast, about 270 miles (435 km) north of San Francisco.

Its primary population centers of Eureka, the site of College of the Redwoods main campus, and the smaller college town of Arcata, site of California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt, are located adjacent to Humboldt Bay, California's second largest natural bay. Area cities and towns are known for hundreds of ornate examples of Victorian architecture.

Humboldt County is a densely forested mountainous and rural county with about 110 miles (177 km) of coastline (more than any other county in the state), situated along the Pacific coast in Northern California's rugged Coast (Mountain) Ranges. With nearly 1,500,000 acres (6,100 km2) of combined public and private forest in production, Humboldt County alone produces twenty percent of total volume and thirty percent of the total value of all forest products produced in California. The county contains over forty percent of all remaining old growth Coast Redwood forests, the vast majority of which is protected or strictly conserved within dozens of national, state, and local forests and parks, totaling approximately 680,000 acres (1,060 sq mi).


The original inhabitants of the area now known as Humboldt County include the Wiyot, Yurok, Hupa, Karuk, Chilula, Whilkut, and the Eel River Athapaskan peoples, including the Wailaki, Mattole and Nongatl. Andrés de Urdaneta found the coast near Cape Mendocino then followed the coast south to Acapulco in 1565. Spanish traders made unintended visits to California with the Manila Galleons on their return trips from the Philippines beginning in 1565. Humboldt County was formed in 1853 from parts of Trinity County. The first recorded entry by people of European origin was a landing by the Spanish in 1775 in Trinidad.

The first recorded entry of Humboldt Bay by non-natives was an 1806 visit from a sea otter hunting party from Sitka employed by the Russian American Company. The hunting party included Captain Jonathan Winship,an American, and some Aleut hunters. The bay was not visited again by people of European origin until 1849 when Josiah Gregg's party visited. In 1850, Douglas Ottinger and Hans Buhne entered the bay, naming it Humboldt in honor of the great naturalist and world explorer, Alexander von Humboldt, and the name was later applied to the county as a whole.

The area around Humboldt Bay was once solely inhabited by the Wiyot Indian tribe. One of the largest Wiyot villages, Tolowot, was located on Indian Island in Humboldt Bay. Founded around 900 BC, it contains a shell midden 6 acres (2.4 ha) in size and 14 feet (4.3 m) deep. It was the site of the February 26, 1860 massacre of the Wiyot people that was recorded by Bret Harte, then living in Union, now called Arcata. Between 60 and 200 Wiyot men, women, and children were murdered that night. Tolowot is now a restricted site and a National Historic Landmark.

State historic landmarks in Humboldt County include Arcata and Mad River Railroad, California's First Drilled Oil Wells in Petrolia, Camp Curtis, Centerville Beach Cross, the City of Eureka, the town of Ferndale, Fort Humboldt, Humboldt Harbor Historical District, the Jacoby Building, The Old Arrow Tree, Old Indian Village of Tsurai, the Town of Trinidad, and Trinidad Head.

On February 5 and 6, 1885, Eureka's entire Chinese population of 300 men and 20 women were expelled after a gunfight between rival Chinese gangs (tongs) resulted in the wounding of a 12-year-old boy and the death of 56-year-old David Kendall, a Eureka City Councilman. After the shooting, an angry mob of 600 Eureka residents met and informed the Chinese that they were no longer wanted in Eureka and would be hanged if they were to stay in town longer than 3 p.m. the next day. They were put on two steamships and shipped to San Francisco. No-one was killed in the expulsion. Another Chinese expulsion occurred during 1906 in a cannery on the Eel River, in which 23 Chinese cannery workers were expelled after objections to their presence. However, some Chinese remained in the Orleans area, where some white landowners sheltered and purchased food for the Chinese mineworkers until after racial tension passed. Chinese did not return to the coastal cities until the 1950s.


The coastal zone of the county experiences very wet, cool winters and dry, mild foggy summers. In the winter, temperatures range from highs of 40–59 °F (4–15 °C) to lows of 32–49 °F (0–9 °C). Coastal summers are cool to mild, with average highs of 60–69 °F (16–21 °C) and frequent fogs. Coastal summer temperatures range from highs of 64–70 °F (18–21 °C) to lows of 46–55 °F (8–13 °C). In the populated areas and cities near the coast, the highest temperatures tend to occur at locations just a few miles inland from Eureka and Arcata, in towns like Fortuna, Rio Dell, and smaller unincorporated communities located somewhat further away from Humboldt Bay. In these locations summer highs are 70–75 °F (21–24 °C). The coastal zone experiences a number of frosty nights in winter and early spring, though snowfall and hard freezes are rare. Coastal winters are cool and wet. Winter rainstorms are frequent, with averages from 30 inches (760 mm) to 100 inches (2,500 mm) a year varying with elevation.

Inland areas of the county also experience wet, cool winters. Snowfall is common at elevations over 3,000 ft (910 m) throughout the winter months. Summer displays the sharpest difference between the coastal and inland climates. Inland regions of Humboldt County experience highs of 80–99 °F (27–37 °C) depending on the elevation and distance from the ocean. Occasional summer highs of 100 °F (38 °C) are common in eastern and southern parts of the county including Orleans, Hoopa, Willow Creek, Garberville, Honeydew, and inland river valleys.

Average daily maximum and minimum temperatures for warmest and coldest months in selected settlements of Humboldt County
Location Month Temp (°F) Temp (°C) Month Temp (°F) Temp (°C)
Eureka August 64/52 18/11 December 55/40 12/4
Arcata September 62/51 17/11 December 54/38 12/3
Ferndale August 71/52 22/11 December 56/39 13/4
Willow Creek July 94/52 34/11 December 50/35 10/1
Garberville August 87/53 31/12 December 49/37 9/3
Shelter Cove August 69/53 21/11 January 57/45 14/7
Orick August 69/49 21/9 January 52/37 11/2


Historically, Humboldt County and the entire far north coast have had many earthquakes over 6.0 magnitude.

The 1992 Cape Mendocino earthquakes were a series of three major earthquakes that occurred off the coast of Cape Mendocino, California on April 25 and 26, 1992, the largest being a 7.2. Ninety-five people were injured and property in the county sustained considerable damage.

In 2010 a 6.5 magnitude earthquake struck offshore, 33 mi. (53 km) west of Eureka, resulting in only minor injuries and some structural damage to houses and utilities, and no fatalities reported.

The town of Arcata is built on top of an accretionary wedge. This was formed by the subduction of the Gorda plate underneath the North American plate.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 4,052 square miles (10,490 km2), of which 3,568 square miles (9,240 km2) is land and 484 square miles (1,250 km2) (12.0%) is water.

Located inside Humboldt County is Cape Mendocino, the westernmost point in California (longitude 124 degrees, 24 minutes, 30 seconds).

Humboldt County contains a diversity of plant and animal species, with significant forest and coastal habitats. In coastal areas there are extensive amounts of redwood forests. A prominent understory shrub is the toyon, whose northern range limit is in Humboldt County.


Humboldt Bay, the only deep water port between San Francisco and Coos Bay, Oregon, is located on the coast at the midpoint of the county.


Arcata CA
Mouth of Humboldt County's Little River on the Pacific Coast.
Rockefeller Forest, the largest remaining old growth Redwood forest on earth, is located within Humboldt Redwoods State Park.

Humboldt County's major rivers include (in order of flow-cubic meters per second-from largest to smallest):

The smaller rivers include: Redwood Creek, significant due to amount of its flow; the Van Duzen; the Eel River syncline group composed of the South Fork, the North Fork, and the Salt River; the Mattole, Salmon, Elk, Bear, and Little rivers.

National protected areas

National Park

Conservation Area

Recreation Area

  • Samoa Dunes Recreation Area – Bureau of Land Management


  • Headwaters Forest Reserve – Bureau of Land Management
  • Six Rivers National Forest – U.S. Forest Service
  • Trinity National Forest – U.S. Forest Service

Wildlife Refuge

State protected areas



Tide Pools

Recreation Areas


County parks

  • A. W. Way
  • Big Lagoon County Park
  • Centerville Beach
  • Clam Beach
  • Crab Park
  • Freshwater County Park
  • Hammond Trail
  • Luffenholtz Beach
  • Mad River, California
  • Margarite Lockwood
  • Moonstone Beach
  • Van Duzen Pamplin Grove



As of the 2000 census, the population of Humboldt County was 126,518. As of that census, there were 51,238 households in Humboldt County, and the population density was 35 people per square mile (14/km2). By 2006, the population was projected to have increased to 131,361 by the California Department of Finance. There were 55,912 housing units at an average density of 16 per square mile (6/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 84.7% White, 0.9% Black or African American, 5.7% Native American, 1.7% Asian, 0.2% Pacific Islander, 2.5% from other races, and 4.4% from two or more races. In 2017, 11.7% of the population were Hispanic or Latino according to the United States Census Bureau. 13.3% were of German, 10.7% Irish, 10.3% English, 7.4% American and 5.7% Italian ancestry according to Census 2000. 92.1% spoke English and 4.6% spoke Spanish as their first language.

There were 51,238 households, out of which 28.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.1% were married couples living together, 11.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 40.2% were non-families. 28.9% of all households were made up of individuals, and 9.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.39 and the average family size was 2.95.

In the county, the population was spread out, with 23.2% under the age of 18, 12.4% from 18 to 24, 27.4% from 25 to 44, 24.5% from 45 to 64, and 12.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females there were 97.7 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.6 males.

The median income for a household in the county was $31,226, and the median income for a family was $39,370. Males had a median income of $32,210 versus $23,942 for females. The per capita income for the county was $17,203. About 12.9% of families and 19.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 22.5% of those under age 18 and 7.2% of those age 65 or over.


Historical population
Census Pop.
1860 2,694
1870 6,140 127.9%
1880 15,512 152.6%
1890 23,469 51.3%
1900 27,104 15.5%
1910 33,857 24.9%
1920 37,413 10.5%
1930 43,233 15.6%
1940 45,812 6.0%
1950 69,241 51.1%
1960 104,892 51.5%
1970 99,692 −5.0%
1980 108,514 8.8%
1990 119,118 9.8%
2000 126,518 6.2%
2010 134,623 6.4%
2020 136,463 1.4%
U.S. Decennial Census
1790–1960 1900–1990
1990–2000 2010–2015

The 2010 United States Census reported that Humboldt County had a population of 134,623. The racial makeup of Humboldt County was 109,920 (81.7%) White, 1,505 (1.1%) African American, 7,726 (5.7%) Native American, 2,944 (2.2%) Asian, 352 (0.3%) Pacific Islander, 5,003 (3.7%) from other races, and 7,173 (5.3%) from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 13,211 persons (9.8%).


Places by population, race, and income

Lanphere Dunes
The Lanphere Dunes, a protected coastal environment

Lead (2017-18)

Humboldt County children are at greater risk of dangerously elevated blood lead levels than Flint, Michigan's - and almost double that of any other California county measured. The cases are concentrated in Eureka's Old Town and downtown areas.


Humboldt County is known for its impressive redwood trees, and many acres of private redwood timberland make Humboldt the top timber producer in California. The lush river bottoms adjacent to the ocean are renowned for producing rich, high-quality dairy products. Somewhat more inland the warmer valleys have historically produced abundant apples and other fruit. More recently vineyards have been planted in the Trinity, Klamath, Mattole and upper Eel river valleys.


Humboldt County is known for its quality family operated dairy farms. The Humboldt Creamery, a significant producer of high grade ice cream and other dairy products, still operates from the original headquarters located at Fernbridge adjacent to the Eel River.


  • The Sequoia Park Zoo is the oldest zoo in California operating on a 7 acres (2.8 ha) facility operated by the City of Eureka in 60 acres (24 ha) Sequoia Park.
  • The Clarke Historical Museum in Eureka, displays North Coast regional and cultural history in the repurposed Historic Register Bank of Eureka building.
  • The Morris Graves Museum of Art conserves and displays the works of local artists in a restored Carnegie Library building.
  • The Ferndale Repertory Theatre is the county's oldest theater company; it has been in operation since 1972 at the Hart Theater building in Ferndale.
  • See also the List of museums in the North Coast (California).


Historic Fernbridge (1911) on the "Road to Ferndale" - California State Route 211

Major highways

  • US 101 (1961 cutout).svg U.S. Route 101
  • California 36.svg State Route 36
  • California 96.svg State Route 96
  • California 169.svg State Route 169
  • California 200.svg State Route 200
  • California 211.svg State Route 211
  • California 254.svg State Route 254 - Avenue of the Giants
  • California 255.svg State Route 255
  • California 271.svg State Route 271
  • California 283.svg State Route 283
  • California 299.svg State Route 299

Public transportation

  • Humboldt Transit Authority operates two fixed route transit bus systems:
    • Redwood Transit System provides intercity service to and within communities between Trinidad and Garberville, including Manila, King Salmon, Field's Landing, Loleta, Fernbridge and Fortuna. HTA also offers service between McKinleyville or Arcata and Willow Creek and an express bus between Arcata and College of the Redwoods when classes are in session.
    • Eureka Transit Service, operated in the City of Eureka, provides local service on four scheduled routes (one hour headway) in Eureka and its adjacent unincorporated communities. Connections can be made to the Redwood Transit System at several places in Eureka.
  • Arcata and Mad River Transit System, operated by the City of Arcata with funding from Cal Poly Humboldt. A&MRTS provides fixed route local bus service on two scheduled routes (one hour headway) in Arcata and an additional route between the Valley West Neighborhood and the university when classes are in session.
  • The city of Blue Lake and the Blue Lake Rancheria operates the Blue Lake Rancheria Transit Authority. This provides fixed route intercity transit bus service (one hour headway) between Arcata and the Blue Lake Rancheria Indian Reservation and casino and local service within the city of Blue Lake.
  • Del Norte County's Redwood Coast Transit operates fixed route intercity transit bus service between Arcata and Crescent City or Smith River.
  • Amtrak Thruway bus has stops in many towns in the region, including Eureka, Arcata, and Fortuna. These stops are not managed by Amtrak and therefore have no services beyond serving passengers. Full service is only provided at the train station in Martinez, near San Francisco.


Arcata-Eureka Airport is located in McKinleyville (north of Arcata). Commercial flights are available. Other general aviation airports are located at Dinsmore, Garberville, Kneeland, Murray Field (Eureka), Samoa Field and Rohnerville (Fortuna).


Port of Humboldt Bay is on Humboldt Bay, California's second largest natural bay.


Name Month Location Citation
Apple Harvest Festival October Fortuna
Arcata Oyster Festival June Arcata Plaza
Azalea Festival June McKinleyville
Avenue of The Giants Marathon May Southern Humboldt
Blackberry Festival July Westhaven
Blues by the Bay July Eureka
Brew at the Zoo May Eureka
Chicken Wingfest September Eureka
Craftsman's Days November Eureka
College of the Redwoods Wood Fair June Eureka
Fourth of July Festival July 4 Old Town Eureka
Humboldt Pride September Arcata
Godwit Days (Birding festival) April Arcata
Humboldt Arts Festival May Arcata/Blue Lake
Humboldt County Fair August Ferndale
Humboldt Film Festival March & April Arcata
Humboldt Juggling Festival April/May Arcata (HSU)
Humboldt Redwoods Marathon October Southern Humboldt
Mushroom Fair November Eureka
North Country Fair September Arcata
Organic Planet Festival September Eureka
Redwood Acres Fair June Eureka
Redwood Coast Jazz Festival March Eureka
Redwood Run June Southern Humboldt
Rhododendron Festival and Parade April Eureka
Roll on the Mattole Summer Mattole Grange
Summer Arts and Music Festival June Benbow
Swauger's Station Day July Loleta
Tour of Loleta (by Bicycle) July Loleta
Tour of the Unknown Coast (by Bicycle) May Southern Humboldt
Trinidad Fish Festival June Trinidad
Trinidad to Clam Beach Run February Trinidad
Truckers Christmas Parade December Eureka
Two Rivers Harvest Festival October Willow Creek
World-Championship Kinetic Sculpture Race May Arcata to Ferndale
Zootini August Eureka
Redwood Coast Up in Smoke BBQ Competition June Blue Lake


Carson Mansion Eureka California
The Carson Mansion of Eureka


Census-designated places

Other unincorporated communities

Indian reservations

Humboldt County has eight Indian reservations lying within its borders. Only four other counties in the United States have more: San Diego County, California; Sandoval County, New Mexico; Riverside County, California; and Mendocino County, California. The Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation is the largest in the state of California, a state that generally has very small reservations (although very numerous) relative to those in other states.

Population ranking

The population ranking of the following table is based on the 2010 census of Humboldt County.

county seat

Rank City/Town/etc. Municipal type Population (2010 Census)
1 Eureka City 27,191
2 Arcata City 17,231
3 McKinleyville CDP 15,177
4 Fortuna City 11,926
5 Myrtletown CDP 4,675
6 Humboldt Hill CDP 3,414
7 Rio Dell City 3,368
8 Pine Hills CDP 3,131
9 Cutten CDP 3,108
10 Hoopa Valley Reservation AIAN 3,041
11 Bayview CDP 2,510
12 Willow Creek CDP 1,710
13 Ferndale City 1,371
14 Blue Lake City 1,253
15 Yurok Reservation (partially in Del Norte County) AIAN 1,238
16 Hydesville CDP 1,237
17 Redway CDP 1,225
18 Westhaven-Moonstone CDP 1,205
19 Garberville CDP 913
20 Fieldbrook CDP 859
21 Scotia CDP 850
22 Indianola CDP 823
23 Manila CDP 784
24 Loleta CDP 783
25 Shelter Cove CDP 693
26 Miranda CDP 520
27 Karuk Reservation AIAN 506
28 Trinidad City 367
29 Orick CDP 357
30 Benbow CDP 321
31 Weott CDP 288
32 Fields Landing CDP 276
33 Samoa CDP 258
34 Alderpoint CDP 186
35 Myers Flat CDP 146
36 Phillipsville CDP 140
37 Trinidad Rancheria AIAN 132
38 Table Bluff Reservation AIAN 103
39 Big Lagoon CDP 93
40 Redcrest CDP 89
41 Blue Lake Rancheria AIAN 58
42 Rohnerville Rancheria AIAN 38
43 Big Lagoon Rancheria AIAN 17


Humboldt County is known for its impressive redwood trees, and many acres of private redwood timberland make Humboldt the top timber producer in California. The lush river bottoms adjacent to the ocean are for producing rich, high-quality dairy products. Somewhat further inland, the warmer valleys have historically produced abundant apples and other fruit. More recently vineyards have been planted in the Trinity, Klamath, Mattole and upper Eel river.

Locally based companies

Company Location Years Operated Industry Highlights Current Status
Kokatat Arcata since 1971 watersports outfits the US Coast Guard and US watersports teams for 1992 and 1996 Olympics locally owned
Cypress Grove Chevre Arcata since 1983 cheese bought by Emmi AG; still in Arcata
Humboldt Creamery Fortuna since 1929 dairy cooperative bought by Foster Farms Dairy; still in Fortuna
Lost Coast Brewery Eureka since 1989 brewery locally owned
Wing Inflatables Arcata since 1991 watercraft used by Navy SEALs locally owned
C. Crane Company Fortuna since 1976 electronics retailer locally owned
Wildwood Manufacturing Arcata since 1970s guitars locally owned
Wildwood Banjos Arcata 1973–2008 banjos moved to Bend, Oregon, and closed in 2018
Moonstone Guitars Eureka since 1974 guitars locally owned
Coast Seafood Eureka since 1941 seafood bought by Pacific Seafood; still in Eureka
Holly Yashi Arcata since 1981 jewelry locally owned
Eel River Brewing Company Fortuna since 1994 brewery locally owned
Six Rivers Brewery McKinleyville since 1996 brewery locally owned
Mad River Brewing Blue Lake since 1989 brewery locally owned
Humboldt Brewing Company Arcata 1987-2005, 2021- brewery locally owned, bought and moved, then returned in 2021
The Sun Valley Group Arcata since 1969 flowers locally owned
Yakima Racks Arcata 1979–2005 roof racks outfitted race vehicles for 1984 Summer Olympics bought out and moved to Portland, Oregon
Restoration Hardware Eureka 1979–2010 home furnishings moved to Corte Madera, California
Moonstone Mountaineering Arcata 1977–2006 custom outdoor gear bought out and closed by Columbia Sportswear in 2006
Fire and Light Originals Arcata 1995–2019 glassware closed in 2019
Loleta Cheese Factory Loleta 1982–2019 cheese closed in 2019
Pacific Lumber Company Scotia 1863–2007 logging declared bankruptcy and bought by Mendocino Redwood Company
Arcata Transit Authority Arcata 1971–? bikes and outdoor gear closed and succeeded by Kokatat
Blue Puma Arcata 1971–1986 outdoor gear early user of Gore-Tex sued by Puma and reorganized to become Kokatat
Downhome Arcata 1978–1980 custom sleeping bags moved to Deadwood, Oregon, and closed c. 1993


Humboldt County is known for its quality family-operated dairy farms. The Humboldt Creamery, a significant producer of high-grade ice cream and other dairy products, still operates from the original headquarters located at Fernbridge adjacent to the Eel River.


The List of schools in Humboldt County, California shows the many school districts, including charter and private schools, at the elementary and high school level. Post-secondary education is offered locally at the College of the Redwoods and California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt (Cal Poly Humboldt). Blue Lake's Dell'Arte International School of Physical Theatre offers accredited three-year Masters of Fine Arts in Ensemble Based Physical Theatre.

Notable people

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