Northern California, USA: Chagdud Gonpa

Prayer Wheels in the Trinity Alps

Nestled in the remote Trinity Alps is a surprising and beautiful Buddhist monastery called Chagdud Gonpa. I first discovered the jewel hidden beyond the Junction City Post Office in 2010 while I was driving frequently between Fortuna and Weaverville for my AmeriCorps service position with the Watershed Stewards Program. Since then I have visited twice more in 2014 and in 2017. The site continues to grow and establish a presence in Trinity County for those who desire a peaceful space to meditate and refresh the mind in the mountain air, while listening to prayer wheels spreading their blessing into the wind.

The Path (1)

Overnight visitors have several lodging options. For the budget traveler, the two best options are tent camping during some times of the years, or for a few more dollars, to camp indoors. Indoor camping might involve sharing a communal space with others, depending on what events are occurring. I opted for the indoor camping and stayed in a yurt. I appeared to be the only overnight visitor and had the yurt, and the kitchen and living area in the guest house to myself. The only others I saw during the two night stay were monks, but I was also visiting when no events were scheduled.

Unless you are a guest at one of the events, you will need to bring in your own food. The nearest supplies are in Weaverville, which is a good twenty minute drive from the monastery. The two best places for local variety and whole food options are the Mountain Marketplace and Tops Super Foods. The Mountain Marketplace is significantly smaller than Tops Super Foods and it closes early around 6pm, but you will find an extensive supply of local produce, cheese, craft beer, jams, and honey. Tops Super Foods is more convenient, and has a larger supply with both local and national brands, but less of the money you spend will support the economic growth of the community. I intended to stop at the Mountain Marketplace but arrived after it had closed, so I picked up a loaf of fresh olive bread, a log of Humboldt Fog chevre, and some fruit for my weekend. 

The Fountain

If you are in the area and planning to visit, please be aware that this is a Buddhist monastery. Typically, Buddhist monks do not eat animal flesh, drink alcohol, or smoke anything. Its best to leave that type of behavior at the Trinity River on your way in or out.

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