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Northcoast and the Giant Redwoods

Walk among giants and stroll rugged coast in the Golden State

Redwood trunks rise like skyscrapers through a lush green landscape. Green ferns fringe fragrant beds of pine needles. A few miles to the west, rocky shores give way to the everlasting blue waters of the Pacific Ocean. With all of this and more, California’s North Coast landscapes have earned iconic status.

The region’s most famous residents are the coastal redwoods, which are found in dense forests dotting the northern coast of California and extending into Oregon. The most famous concentration of these arboreal giants is found in Redwood National and State Parks, located just over 50 miles south of the Oregon border. The ample selection of RV parks in the area make it a popular destination.

Majestic Redwoods

Nurtured by ample rain, rich soil and a temperate climate, the spectacular redwoods are some of the world’s tallest trees (the trees found in California’s Sequoia National Park, 563 miles to the southeast, are the most massive, as measured by overall weight). Many redwoods top the 300-foot mark, and the tallest known redwood on record is 379 feet, located in the Redwood Creek watershed. The record changes frequently, as treetops frequently break off.

These forests were almost stripped from existence as loggers harvested much of the wood in the late 1800s. However, in the early 20th century, conservationists rescued several forested tracts of land. Today’s visitors will find 139,000 acres spread out across Northern California managed as national and state parks. Almost 40,000 acres of old-growth forest remain. Visit one park, or take a drive throughout the region.

To learn about the history and ecology of the region, stop at one of the park visitor centers or join a tour led by a park ranger. Then get out into the wilderness by driving and walking through the parks. Running through Humboldt Redwoods State Park, the Avenue of the Giants is a favorite scenic drive that was once part of U.S. Route 101 before the freeway bypass. This 30-mile trek leads drivers under a canopy of redwood trees arching overhead. Check out the Shrine Drive-Thru Tree or the Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree for a fun photo op.

Redwood trees tower over a trail.

Humboldt County Vistors Bureau

You’ll be missing out if you only experience the redwoods from the seat of your vehicle. A number of trails snake through the forests for unforgettable sights. The Lady Bird Johnson Grove Trail loop is an easy, 1-mile walk. A favorite for artists and photographers, the Rhododendron Trail in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park offers a magical experience as the colorful flower blooms amid the verdant forest each spring. Nearby, the Fern Canyon Loop Trail leads visitors past plush groves of ferns, some of which tower 30 feet high.

Peel your eyes off of the towering redwoods long enough to watch for wildlife. Roosevelt elk may be spotted grazing in the meadows. In some forests, ocean overlooks offer the chance to see whales in the brilliant blue waters of the Pacific. Head down to the beach to explore tide pool habitats.

Crescent City: Land’s End

North of Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park lies the small town of Crescent City, sitting in an area once deemed “Land’s End” by early explore Jedediah Smith. The name came to him when he observed how the landscape he had crossed abruptly collided with the waters of the Pacific, marking the edge of the continent. Today’s visitors continue to be awestruck by the area’s beauty.

A stoic lighthouse stands guard on an islet in the waters of the Pacific just offshore. Accessible only during low tide, Battery Point Lighthouse welcomes visitors to climb its steps and look out upon the expansive ocean views. Even when you can’t reach the lighthouse, you can still enjoy standing on the hillside as waves crash along the rocky shore. This is a picture-perfect scene.

Head to the Crescent City Harbor to look for sea lions basking on the sunny shores. The town’s a great place to grab a bite to eat and explore the stores.

Experience a different kind of coastal habitat with a stop at Tolowa Dunes State Park, just north of Crescent City. Peregrine falcons and other birds swoop through the skies over sand dunes, wetlands and freshwater ponds. Try your hand at catching salmon, trout and more in Lake Earl and the Smith River.

A red-roofed lighthouse overlooks an ocean coast.

Humboldt County Vistors Bureau

Colorful Eureka

Near the southern end of the redwoods region, the colorful town of Eureka transports visitors to the age of opulent lumber barons. Take a walking tour of the many grand Victorian mansions painted in pastel colors, preserved as state historic landmarks. The towering flamingo-pink turrets and gables of the Carson Mansion dazzle visitors almost a century after it was built for a local business mogul. Stroll the Old Town district for quirky shops, art galleries and wide-ranging restaurants. This area bursts with eye candy, as modern murals cover walls amid the vibrant architecture. The streets teem with visitors during the many arts and culture festivals held throughout the year.

Toast the Redwoods

Several wineries thrive in the area, and some can be found in Redway, a tiny community south of Humboldt Redwoods State Park along Highway 101. Enjoy the flavors created in a land of giants. Also in the area: several breweries that craft compelling beer for lovers of hops.

For More Information

Humboldt County Convention and

Visitors Bureau

800-346-3482

www.redwoods.info

California Tourism

877-225-4367

www.visitcalifornia.com