The primary reason we traveled through northern California was to see the coast redwoods -- a first for both of us. And they were even more than I ever dreamed they'd be; it's truly impossible to imagine the size and breadth of these incredible trees until you stand beside one and realize just how small you really are.
There are numerous state parks and a national park in the north coast section of the redwood forest, and they are all free to visit (a real surprise to me). The parks kind of blend together so we didn't always know which one we were in; we just drove and parked in various spots and explored further on foot. There's always something beautiful to see!
Here's a map of the entire area. Over a three-day period, we visited all three of the state parks near Crescent City. The Redwood National Park land intermingles with these, in partnership, but is not shown on the map. I did stop at the national park visitor's center to buy a magnet and sticker.
Here's some excellent information on this area and the redwoods that I pulled from Wikipedia:
The Redwood National and State Parks (RNSP) are located in the United States, along the coast of northern California. Comprising Redwood National Park (established 1968) and California's Del Norte Coast, Jedediah Smith, and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Parks (dating from the 1920s), the combined RNSP contain 133,000 acres (540 km2). Located entirely withinDel Norte and Humboldt Counties, the four parks, together, protect 45% of all remaining coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) old-growth forests, totaling at least 38,982 acres (157.75 km2). These trees are the tallest and one of the most massive tree species on Earth. In addition to the redwood forests, the parks preserve other indigenous flora, fauna, grassland prairie, cultural resources, portions of rivers and other streams, and 37 miles (60 km) of pristine coastline. ---- Source: Wikipedia
We'd heard that the Stout Memorial Grove in Jedidiah Smith Redwoods State Park was one of the best places to view the redwoods and to take photographs, so we made sure to stop here and walk around on the lovely paths, gawking.
This one was a monster!
I felt like a character in "Land of the Giants"!
Even our car looks teeny when driving through the redwood forest!
After checking out the redwoods, we drove just a bit farther south, parked again, and hiked a portion of the Coastal Trail, which spans 70 miles through the state and national redwoods park area. There's much more to see here than redwoods!
We took a side spur trail to check out Endert's Beach. It was rocky, rugged, and beautiful. It was hard to believe we'd been deep in the lush redwood forest literally minutes before, and now we were at the beach listening to crashing waves.
We continued down the trail enjoying the local flora and fauna. The ferns here were huge -- we almost felt like we were back in the rain forests of Belize; however, it was quite a bit cooler!
We encountered a well-known species in this area: the Banana Slug. These things are unmistakable, and large! I was amused to see all sorts of banana slug paraphernalia (aimed at kids) at the national park gift shop. Ha!
The second one we saw (below) was much smaller than the guy above -- I remembered to put my hand in the photo for a size reference.
We drove a bit further down the coastal highway (101), stopping to look at another beautiful beach, before heading back to the hotel for the day.
Stay tuned -- more redwoods yet to come!
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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