Wednesday, April 29, 2009

5 Places

Spud Hilton
Sunday, April 26, 2009

The West Coast is the stomping grounds, literally, for the mysterious, elusive beastie whose aliases include sasquatch, yeti and ZZ Top guitarist. While most sightings and related sites are in Northern California and the Pacific Northwest, there are plenty of places to get into the Bigfoot spirit, if not actually follow in big footsteps. And you know what they say about big feet - there's always a festival or a souvenir stand somewhere nearby.

1. Happy Camp (Siskiyou County)

Legend has it that Happy Campers have been spotting Bigfoot and his kin for more than a century, although in recent years most of the related action is at the annual Bigfoot Jamboree on Labor Day Weekend. Festivities include a parade, a concert and the crowning of the Bigfoot Jamboree Queen. The town, about 15 miles south of the Oregon border, occasionally holds the Bigfoot Summer Games on Memorial Day weekend. Visit the statue of the big guy (made entirely of donated scrap metal), and at night, bed down at the Bigfoot RV Park and Cabins, 112 Davis Road, (530) 493-2884. For more, call the Happy Camp chamber at (530) 493-2900.

2. San Diego Museum of Man

Unlike many "museums" with a Bigfoot angle, this one isn't a glorified gift shop that can be towed to festivals and county fairs. There's a curator, permanent walls and, most important, a reconstruction of a Gigantopithecus blacki, the extinct towering primate that is considered the closest kin to modern day Bigfoot. The full-size replica was built for the museum based on Giganto skeleton specs. 1350 El Prado, Balboa Park, San Diego, (619) 239-2001,

3. The Bigfoot Lodge, Los Angeles

Not a lodge in the "lodging" sense so much as a hippish dive bar in a log cabin setting or, as one Yelp reviewer put it, what you get when you "mix Yosemite and Los Angeles." The waiters wear Boy Scout shirts, there's a huge sign for Sasquatch National Park and the drink menu includes the Toasted Marshmallow, the Sasquatch and the Girl Scout Cookie. Beyond that, there's not a lot of connection with the bar's namesake, although after a few Toasted Marshmallows, you probably won't care. 3172 Los Feliz Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 662-9227. (There's a sister bar in San Francisco at 1750 Polk St., (415) 440-2355)

4. Willow Creek, Humboldt County

This tiny town lays claim to Bigfoot heritage and backs it up at the Bigfoot Museum (more accurately, the Bigfoot wing of the Willow Creek-China Flat Museum) and an annual Bigfoot Days event with a parade, live music and a disc golf tournament (which sounds UFO themed, really). It's also where the most famous Bigfoot footage was filmed. Museum: 38949 Highway 299, Willow Creek. (530) 629-2653, www.big Bigfoot Days are in downtown Willow Creek on Labor Day weekend (Sept. 5-7).

5. Bigfoot Discovery Museum

The last reported sighting of a hulking, hairy biped (other than surfers) in the Santa Cruz Mountains was 1980, but that didn't stop a Felton couple from starting the Bigfoot Discovery Project and related museum in 2003 "to encourage the nonexploitation and preservation of Bigfoot." The museum has plenty of high-minded resources about the study of Bigfoot - as well as kitchy, fun stuff and souvenirs for entertainment value. Get photos with the cool statues. 5497 Highway 9, Felton, (831) 335-4478,

This article appeared on page G - 2 of the San Francisco Chronicle

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