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Hubtrails goes to the Redwood National Park Forest and Trees of Mystery

A longtime camper, Dan has experience with tents, pop-up trailers, camp trailers, and motorhomes.

Visiting the Redwood National Park

I have visited the Redwood National Park forest twice now, including a side trip to the Trees of Mystery both times. Both times I have been left with a tremendous sense of awe and wonder at the almost mystical majesty of these tremendous trees in the fog shrouded redwood forest. Some of these trees existed before the birth of Christ and that they have survived the ravages of time and man is a wonder in itself and a testament to the efforts of those that have spent so much time and effort to protect them.

On both of our visits we entered the redwood forest from the north, on US highway 101. This is a beautiful road to travel all the way up and down the coast, albeit a little slow, and has been our path of choice when on vacation and wanting to enjoy our travel time.

World's tallest tree video

The Redwood forests of California

The coastal area of northern California is unique in the world in that it produces the tallest living things on earth - the trees in the redwood forest. The range of these trees is from the extreme southwest corner of Oregon to about 150 miles south of San Francisco. For the most part it is within 20 or 30 miles of the coast and in an area of California with mild temperatures. The Redwood forest is a region of high winter rainfall coupled with lots of dense summer fog - the result of these unusual conditions is that the Redwood tree grows nowhere else in the world.

Redwood trees as tall as 378 feet have been found and are alive today with the oldest verified tree being dated at something over 2200 years old. Although the sequoia trees (a more southern version of the redwood) are known to be larger in terms of total volume as well as girth the redwood trees of northern California grow to over 20' in diameter, or over 60' in circumference.

At least in the Redwood National Park area we visited, the underbrush and smaller plant growth was not overwhelming, and we stopped several times to simply wander through the forest for a few minutes. These trees are indescribable; neither the statistics listed above nor the photos here can do justice to the majesty and wonder of a redwood forest. It doesn't seem possible that such trees could exist; the lowest branch may be higher off the ground than normal trees are tall, and are much, much larger around as well. The ponderosa and fir trees I am used to, the oak and walnut trees of my youth, are all toothpicks in comparison; there just is no comparable tree anywhere in the world. In the quiet forest, sound muffled by fog and dew, these forest giants leave an impression of awe that no one is immune to. The most jaded traveler, the most excitable children; all come away having felt something if only wonder that such things exist.

On our first trip to the redwood forest we stayed at Jedediah State Park campground and liked it enough that we chose the same place for our second trip. The state park is a very nice area, although redwood growth is limited near the campground, and it has miles of hiking and sightseeing trails. The campground can accommodate up to 35' RV's as well as tents and is a very pleasant wooded campground. More important is that places and sights of the Redwood National Park are only a short drive away; more miles of hiking trails, some of the larger redwood trees and a tourist attraction named the "Trees of Mystery". The "drive through tree" that everyone simply must drive their car through is within a few minutes drive as well. The campground is located on highway 199, just off of US 101 and only a few miles from the Oregon border.

The Redwood Forest

The "drive through tree"

The "drive through tree"

redwood trees

redwood trees

The base of a redwood.  Note the man in the picture

The base of a redwood. Note the man in the picture

Redwood forest, shrouded in misty fog

Redwood forest, shrouded in misty fog

Trees of Mystery

Paul Bunyon with Babe the Blue Ox

Paul Bunyon with Babe the Blue Ox

Trees of Mystery

Trees of Mystery is located about 16 miles south of Crescent City on highway 101 and is unmistakable with its giant statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe, the Blue Ox. As a tourist attraction it is one of the better available and well worth the admission price and the two or three hours needed to see it all.

The Trees of Mystery begins with a path winding through a giant hollow log and on into the forest where many differently shaped redwood trees grow into astounding shapes. It is a very informative tour, covering the why's and wherefore's of the strange growths as well as considerable history of the redwood forest and the logging endeavors that have taken place over the years. There is a section of artwork created with chainsaws and axes carved from very large pieces of redwood. Sights such as the cathedral tree (a cluster of 6 trees originating from a single root where weddings are often held) and odd shaped trees growing from fallen redwoods with explanations for the strange growth patterns are spotted all along the trail.

A large gift shop includes a native American museum and is a cut above most typical gift shops. There is a skytram ride that was quite interesting as well if you can tolerate heights. I am not generally one to enjoy roadside attractions but found this one interesting and informative enough to visit it twice.

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The Making of a Redwood (Cartoon)

© 2010 Dan Harmon


Sihem on August 30, 2013:

They are the tallest trees in the world. I miss them since lanvieg California. The redwood forests that still stand are called Cathedrals of the Trees. The wood is not eaten by termites, it is valuable. There is an ongoing struggle to stop the harvesting of old-growth redwoods and preserve the new ones for another 300 years at least.

Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on January 06, 2013:

Yes, if you ever get back to northern California the Trees of Mystery makes a great stop. Interesting, informative and beautiful as you walk the forest trails. Thanks for the link, too.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on January 05, 2013:

The redwoods are just as amazing and awe inspiring as you described. I feel as though I am in a natural cathedral when walking among them. The Trees of Mystery sound interesting. Will have to check it out if I ever get back over that direction. Am adding a link from this hub to my latest regarding the 8 national parks in California. Will make a nice addition! Voted up, useful and interesting.

Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on June 14, 2011:

I don't know - once was just not enough for me, and I would go back still again. It is just so awe inspiring to stand amongst these giants that have lived for hundreds upon hundreds of years.

The redwood forest is indeed a must see.

Redwood national park on June 13, 2011:

Redwood national park is a magnificent place and one must see this attraction at least once in a lifetime. Stout Grove has the old grown trees, it is where you will find the largest and oldest trees in the park and don't miss the wild and scenic smith river.

Dan Harmon (author) from Boise, Idaho on August 09, 2010:

I wish you could, Dolores. No, the pictures cannot even come close to the sheer majesty of that forest; you just have to be there. Even after visiting twice, my pictures just make me want to back.

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on August 09, 2010:

Oh, how I would love to see those redwoods! I know how photographs never actually depict a natural scene and your pictures were so beautiful. I'd love to visit that cathedral of trees some time.

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