Garberville is located on California State Highway 101 about half way between Ukiah and Eureka. There is also a road leading west to Shelter Cove on the Pacific Ocean. Along the way, this road passes through Petrolia where small quantities of oil bubbled to the surface in the 1860s. The first shipment of petroleum was loaded in goatskin bags and packed out by mule train. Leland Stanford, who later founded Stanford University, was head of the local oil company, now just a memory. The remote King Range National Conservation Area and Sinkyone Wilderness is accessed from Shelter Cove. Just South of Garberville is Richardson Grove State Park, Standish Hickey State Park, and the Benbow Inn and Lake, which has been designated a national historic monument. Trout, steelhead and salmon fishing is excellent in season on the Eel river nearby. The Avenue of the Giants, Rockerfeller Forest, and Humboldt Redwoods State Park are just north of Garberville. In town, there is a selection of lodging and restaurants and the Garberville Theatre offers organic popcorn along with first run Hollywood movies. Garberville is well located to serve as a base for the exploration of several important national and state parks.
Settlement of the Garberville area began in the middle of the nineteenth century. Early on it was known as Dogtown, but, in 1874, a post office was established and the postmaster, Jacob C. Garber changed the name to Garberville. The 2010 census identified 913 people living in what the federal government calls a "census-designated place," but the Garberville Chamber of Commerce estimates that the community includes about 2,000 people. That organization also counts another 2,000 people living in nearby Redway. Efforts have been made to incorporate the community, but there has not been enough interest to overcome the perceived lack of a revenue base. Some within the community have suggested that it would be better if they could secede from Humboldt County and form a new Sequoia County, but this proposal has not received sufficient support to effect a change in the administrative structure of the region. In the past, the timber industry was an important element of the economy, but today it is much diminished in importance and tourism is the principal economic activity.