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California Coast Experiences: Smith River to Crescent City & Redwoods

California is a state full of natural wonders, including many state and national parks. See interesting sites in San Francisco and beyond.

Sunset in Smith River, California, as viewed from our balcony

Sunset in Smith River, California, as viewed from our balcony

Ship Ashore Resort

The Ship Ashore Resort was our destination to rest our heads after our jet boat ride on the Rogue River in Grants Pass, Oregon. This next leg of my mother's, niece's, and my trip would have us seeing some of northern California at Smith River, California, and down to Crescent City, California, where we would take in additional sites, like the majestic redwoods forest. I snapped ocean pictures as well as forested ones. Come along and join us on this leg of our journey.

It took much longer than anticipated to drive from Grants Pass to Smith River because of the many curves in the road and the posted speeds of only 25 miles per hour. Because of having reservations, we pushed on, and shortly after arriving, enjoyed a magnificent sunset over the Pacific ocean.

The Ship Ashore Resort in Smith River is situated overlooking the water, so we had a terrific and unobstructed view of the setting sun. On U.S. Route 101, the location is only three miles south of the Oregon border.

Seagulls on our balcony railing.

Seagulls on our balcony railing.

Pacific Sunset and Seagulls

This Ship Ashore Resort has a prime spot on the Smith River and the Pacific Ocean. The views are terrific, and I made use of my camera to record the brilliant sunset over the water.

Seagulls were in abundance, and the waitress at the restaurant invited us to take the remaining bread from the basket that was served at our table during dinner to feed the seagulls that perched on our balcony railing. The seagulls are used to being regaled with extra bread like this!

We paid the price for our feeding them. The following morning, at the crack of dawn, we had noisy and boisterous seagulls squawking and begging for another helping of bread. There was no need for an alarm clock! My niece had fun obliging the seagulls. They kept us entertained with their antics until we needed to get on with our planned activities for the day.

We enjoyed staying there and dining in the beached yacht serving as the resort's restaurant. I learned when updating this article that this lodging is now closed.

Smith River, California

Smith River is a small unincorporated town in the very northwestern tip of California, just below the State of Oregon. The primary reason that we came to this area was that my mother wanted to see some of the famous tall redwood trees and experience their grandeur in person. Thus it worked into our sightseeing plans. It would be the first time for my niece to see them as well.

Crescent City, California

We headed south to Crescent City, California, which is only 12 miles or so from Smith River. After an easy drive, our first stop was to visit the Battery Point Lighthouse. One can usually walk right up to it. However, when the tide rolls in, the path is obliterated. Unfortunately for us, it was high tide, so we could only view it from a distance.

It was one of the first lighthouses built along the California coast, so it has great historical significance. Had we been able to walk over to it, we could have toured the interior and have seen period furnishings.

Getting ocean pictures of this rugged coastline in northern California is easy. Crescent City juts out into the Pacific, and it makes for some pretty spectacular scenery.

That location has also caused problems for the residents. Tsunami prone, this part of the United States has been affected with damaging ocean waves causing great destruction and even deaths. After the devastating 9.0 earthquake in Japan on March 11, 2011, about eight feet of water came crashing ashore in this area.

Fortunately for us, the weather was agreeable, and we enjoyed the ocean views picking up a few rocks as souvenirs along the way.

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It is easy to see from the map below how Crescent City juts out into the ocean making it more vulnerable to tsunamis than other areas.


Crescent City is the gateway to some of the giant redwood trees of California. My mother, niece, and I found a picnic table in the Lady Bird Johnson Grove. It was there that we enjoyed a lunch of some Native American-style smoked salmon jerky that we had purchased locally to add to our other more typical picnic offerings. We had some interested blue jays that were willing to gather any crumbs left behind. It was then time to see and marvel at the spectacular redwood trees.

The Lady Bird Johnson Grove is a part of the national park. In addition to the Redwood National Park, several state parks have these coastal redwoods growing in locations along the California coastline.

These redwoods, which are the tallest living things on our planet, some of which are thousands of years old, have amazingly shallow roots. Many are no more than about 10 feet in depth but do spread out for great distances.

Most of the mature trees are anywhere between 300 to 350 feet tall They have massive trunks and can survive fires that have occurred over the centuries. Hollowed out trunks of trees still alive have been used for shelter for both people and animals.

Redwoods Verses Sequoias

The trees we were viewing, the coastal redwoods (sequoia sempervivums), should not be confused with the giant sequoias (Sequoiadendron giganteum) that grow in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range in eastern California. The latter, while not necessarily as tall, have even wider girths and are truly massive trees. In the past, cars were allowed to drive through the middle of these hollowed-out trees.

Sequoias were the trees that my mother wished to see because of hearing about them from her parents, who had traveled and experienced them many years ago. But she mistakenly said redwoods instead of sequoias when I was planning the trip.

Not to worry! She was amazed and loved what she saw while walking through the Redwood National Park. But then who wouldn't be awed! It certainly makes one feel insignificant and small when realizing that these trees were here before Christ and others walked the earth!

Differences and Similarities between Redwood and Sequoia Trees

Redwoods & SequoiasRedwoodsSequoias

Which tend to be taller?


Which are larger overall in mass?


Grow along the Calif. coast?


Grow in the Sierra Nevada Mtn.'s of California?


Have been harvested for lumber?



Resistant to fire and insects?



Some of them protected in National Parks?



Can live up to several thousand of years old?



I hope you learned something about the northwestern tip of California from Smith River to Crescent City. The coastline and Battery Point Lighthouse are alluring, and the Redwood National Park is magnificent. Our getting to see all of this made for one lovely day of our vacation trip!

The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always. No one has ever successfully painted or photographed a redwood tree. The feeling they produce is not transferable. From them comes silence and awe. It's not only their unbelievable stature, nor the color which seems to shift and vary under your eyes, no, they are not like any trees we know, they are ambassadors from another time.

— John Steinbeck


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2011 Peggy Woods

Comments are most welcome!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 27, 2021:

Hi Manatita,

Speaking to your loved ones who are in distant places does take some time. I hope your sister's estate settlement is going well. So sorry she lost that battle with cancer. We have lost so many good friends to that disease. Take care! Sending blessings your way today.

manatita44 from london on March 26, 2021:

I see. I thought it was for another reason. Yes. I have seen the new one. Not got to it yet. I'm doing so many things! Even something as simple as telephone chats can take a while. My older sister in Texas ... my now deceased sister ... my brother in Grenada .. these are necessary extras. (I'm cheerful, don't worry). More later.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 26, 2021:

Hi Manatita,

I am so happy to know that you enjoy seeing these places virtually via my writings. I did publish a new article today, but lately, I have been busy updating those still on HubPages (not discover) and putting them in the featured spaces at the top of the page. People have been finding them there and can leave comments until they are whisked off to the discover site. That is why you are seeing some in the feed and not in your inbox. You should see the Katy Dog Park one in your inbox.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 26, 2021:

Hi Alex,

Amazingly, these trees do live a long life. We loved seeing the redwoods on this trip.

manatita44 from london on March 26, 2021:

No. I have not visited but its enthralling! You show so much beauty in your writings! I rather loved the music in this video too, like I did the Gayatri mantra.

Good to know about the different trees. I figure that I will have to abandon my plans of 'checking' out in this incarnation and return again. So much to see! Chuckle.

Now I see your feeds and respond, but your articles don't seem to appear in my email anymore. Strange!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 26, 2021:

Hi George,

I am pleased that I could introduce you to this portion of California. It has much to offer tourists by way of beauty.

Alex on March 25, 2021:

Redwoods and Sequoias are so majestic. Hard to believe they can be so old. This must have been quite a trip.

George on March 25, 2021:

I have been to California many times but never to this area. Thanks for the beautiful introduction. It is now on my "bucket list" for a post-Pandemic trip.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 13, 2019:

Hi Roberta,

I am happy to be able to fill in some information about an area you have yet to visit. That entire region of our country is so beautiful.

RTalloni on June 13, 2019:

What a great girl's trip! I have been above and below this area so appreciate a closer look at a region I would like visit. Thanks for sharing your journeys.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 21, 2013:

Hello justmesuzanne,

Thanks for the votes up and share. Sorry for the late response to this. I have been busy writing on another site as well as maintaining this one.

justmesuzanne from Texas on September 08, 2013:

Lovely! Voted up, beautiful and shared! :)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 15, 2012:

Hi Deborah,

So happy to hear that you liked this look at parts north of the Napa Valley in California. I really enjoyed that trip with my mother and niece many years ago. Thanks for your comment.

Deborah Neyens from Iowa on December 15, 2012:

I've never been farther north in California than Napa County. Thanks for taking me along on your journey. Your photos are beautiful!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 13, 2012:

Hi Rajan,

So happy to be able to introduce you to these scenic seacoast areas in California. Yes...the redwoods are magnificent! Thanks for your comment and the rest.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on December 12, 2012:

Loved the natural beauty of the redwood trees. They are indeed massive. The sunset picture is also beautiful. This was an interesting and informative read of places I hadn't heard of at all.

Voted up and beautiful and passing it on.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on November 19, 2012:

Hi Alastar,

Glad to know that you liked learning about the scenery going up the west coast of California. We loved the various beaches, scenery including the redwoods and more. I've never been to Maine, but I can well imagine that some of the rocky coastlines are similar from east to west. Thanks for your comment, votes and share.

Alastar Packer from North Carolina on November 18, 2012:

Perfectly lovely hub on the resort, Smith River and Crescent City, Peggy. The little isle cut-off by the tide is just like one in Maine i know. The photos are really marvelous with your mother and niece. Tug-of-war round the Redwood tree ha ha. Up awe and shared!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 04, 2012:

Hi Eddy,

Nice to see you back here on HP leaving comments. Very happy to be able to share photos and descriptions of the redwoods and beautiful beach scenery in northern California with you. Thanks for the share on FB.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 04, 2012:

Hi James,

Nice to be able to show you the northern part of California with descriptions and photos. We loved it! I have never been to the southernmost parts of California. Have you written about visiting there? Appreciate your comment.

Eiddwen from Wales on September 04, 2012:

This Peggy is another masterpiece and another for my Armchair Travelling.

Thanks for all your hard work because this is what every one of your hubs as brilliant as they are.

Here's to so many more to come.

I am sharing onto my FB pages too.


James A Watkins from Chicago on September 04, 2012:

I have only been to Southern California so I was excited to see you have written about this area, to which I have long longed to go. It is surely a beautiful place. Thank you for the excellent reportage and gorgeous photographs (as always). :-)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 22, 2012:

Hi Alicia,

Hope that you get to those coastal areas of California someday and get to walk along those beautiful beaches with the pounding surf. transported me back there in memory by commenting on this hub. Thank you! :)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 22, 2012:

Hi ripplemaker,

If you go to California next year as planned, you will have many beautiful sites to see. Decisions will be hard depending upon the time you have as there are innumerable places worth your time and effort. Thanks for your comment on this hub. Always nice hearing from you, Michelle. :)

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on May 21, 2012:

Thanks for letting me continue my virtual travels by reading your hub and looking at its media, Peggy. I loved the sea lion video. I enjoy walking through forests and looking at huge and awesome trees like redwoods, but my favourite type of walk is beside or on the seashore. I hope to visit some of the places that you describe some day. Thank you for sharing another very enjoyable hub.

Michelle Simtoco from Cebu, Philippines on May 21, 2012:

Someday maybe I'd get to visit California....maybe next year :) Beautiful photos Peggy!! I enjoyed my virtual tour with you. Blessings always.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 30, 2011:

Hi Billy,

So...Bigfoot has been seen tromping through the redwoods forest areas? At least I can say that MY bigfeet have been there! Haha!

billyaustindillon on May 30, 2011:

Saw there was another reported bigfoot sighting which brought me back to your hub. Funny how the reporting always pop up around holidays.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 28, 2011:


The redwoods forest gives me the feeling of being in a cathedral. The awe inspiring natural beauty and scents and grandeur surpasses anything that man can create. Wish that my mother could have seen both the cypress and redwoods. They are all magnificent. Thanks for your visit and comment. on May 28, 2011:

Peggy - love the pictures. I love the redwoods and in the area you have above.

A friend, who is not a religious man, said to me that visiting the Redwoods is like looking in the face of God - you have to be awe no matter what.

I am glad your Mom made the mistake of saying redwoods - they are truly wondrous to behold

God Bless


Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 15, 2011:

Hi Prasetio,

Happy to hear that you enjoyed this hub about visiting the northern coastline of California including the beautiful redwoods forest area. Thanks for your comment and vote up. :))

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on May 14, 2011:

Beautiful, Peggy. I always love all your hub about beautiful place you had ever visited, including this one. I am glad to know how you made all your hubs looks so wonderful by completed stunning pictures. You have done a great job. Vote up as always. Cheers...


Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 11, 2011:

Hi mdlawyer,

So happy to know that you enjoyed this northern California hub with the ocean pics and the redwoods. Thanks for your votes and comment.

mdlawyer on May 10, 2011:

Very fascinating, enchanting!! VOTED UP AND RATED BEAUTIFUL!! AWESOME!!!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 09, 2011:

Hi John Sarkis,

Nice to know that you liked this hub of ocean pics going up the northern California coast, plus the redwoods. Thanks for leaving a comment.

John Sarkis from Winter Haven, FL on May 09, 2011:

awesome hub with neat photos

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 27, 2011:

Hi Hello, hello,

Glad that you enjoyed this hub showing California from Smith River to Crescent City and the Redwoods forest. Thanks for your comment.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 27, 2011:

Hello Simone,

Ah yes...the smell of forests like the Redwoods forested areas are great indeed. Mmmm...can almost smell them from memory! Glad you liked the pictures. Thanks!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 27, 2011:

Hi Billy,

I have to agree that the Redwood forests are a great national treasure. Nice to hear that you enjoy these hubs about trips taken in the past. It is fun for me to relive them in this way also. Thanks for the comment.