Willits is a small town where people know their neighbors; it’s a place where ranchers, loggers, environmentalists, and school teachers embrace a live-and-let-live point of view and are often seen chatting with one another at the grocery store or standing side-by-side at the annual Black Bart Parade.
From July through September, we see high temperatures between 80º – 90º and lows in the 40s. Many residents pop over to the coast via Hwy 20 if they want to escape the heat and feel a cool ocean breeze.
In October, temperatures drop and the rainy season begins. We get about 40 inches of rain each year, almost entirely between October and April. Because of the beauty of the season, many people choose fall as the time to buy a ticket on the local Skunk Train for a picturesque ride between Willits and the coast.
At 1,350 feet above sea level, we get about 4 inches of snow a year, which occasionally causes the mountain pass between Willits and Ukiah to close. School kids love it when classes are cancelled because of weather, but that’s rare.
During spring, everything turns a rich, verdant green in the hills around Willits. In May, the local Farmers’ Market moves from its indoor location at the Little Lake Grange to its open-air outdoor location in the Bud Snider City Park where we enjoy live music while shopping for local produce, meats, cheeses, honey, and locally made crafts.
Willits Unified School District educates more than 1,500 students from transitional kindergarten (TK) through high school. In recent years, school superintendent Mark Westerburg has implemented thoughtful, creative changes to enhance local education.
Willits Unified has traditional and alternative options. The traditional schools include Brookside Elementary (TK-2), Blosser Lane Elementary (3-5), Baechtel Grove Middle School (6-8), and Willits High School (9-12). Alternative programs include Sherwood Elementary (K-8), Sanhedrin Vocational Alternative High School (9-12), and New Horizons Independent Study (K-12).
With its rugged mountains and wild rivers, Willits offers any outdoor enthusiast a long list of wonderful activities, including camping, hiking, bicycling, hunting, fishing, and more. Little Darby Nature Trail, Jackson Demonstration State Forest and Brooktrails offer trails of various lengths and terrain. And when it comes to trout fishing, it’s hard to be the convenience of Brooktrails’ Lake Emily and Lake Ada Rose.
If you prefer to relax and have a barbeque with friends, consider the Recreation Grove and the Bud Snider City Park. If instead, your kids would like to play baseball or hop on their skateboards, you might prefer the Community Ball Fields or Willits Skatepark. And if your dog needs some off-leash playtime with other pooches, consider the Frank Grasse Dog Park.
Culture and Community
Willits has a proud Old West heritage and we celebrate it every year during the Willits Frontier Days, a tradition that has remained unbroken since 1926. It includes the Black Bart Parade and the longest running rodeo in California. We also have a 131-year-old train, the Skunk Train, that’ll carry you over bridges and past open meadows, following the coastal “Redwood Route” as it has since 1885.
The 2003 movie Seabiscuit brought a bit of attention to this corner of the world because Ridgewood Ranch, located just outside Willits, is the home of the world-famous Triple Crown winner. If you like history and want to learn about Willits and the rest of Mendocino County, visit the Mendocino County Historical Museum, conveniently located in downtown Willits.
To learn more, visit these sites: