Updated: Nov 20, 2021
This weekend, I had the opportunity to revisit my most beloved among California’s natural wonders. And it felt like visiting old friends. If you haven’t seen these beauties, now is the time!
The California redwoods—one of my very favorite features of the state itself and quite possibly the most sensational attraction it has to offer. Who doesn’t love a forest covered in lush, ancient trees soaring so high above your head that you get dizzy just looking at them?
And the best part is? You guessed it. You can see these world-famous giants for free.
Humboldt Redwoods State Park along the Northern California coast comprises a sprawling 53,000 acres covered in supple ferns, copious clover fields, and a wealth of other rich foliage. The main attraction, magnificent redwood trees which rise over 300 feet in the air, speckle the soft earth like beauty queens competing on a crowded stage. These regal titans can not only claim unequaled beauty, but astonishing age. The oldest trees have stood their ground for over 2,000 years.
One of my most beloved spots along Highway 101 is a gorgeous area called Founder’s Grove. Here, several trails snake through the forest, allowing visitors to observe various aspects of the redwoods, such as their as their incredible diameter. At the center of the grove is Founder’s Tree, a grand beauty measuring 346 feet in height and 40 feet in circumference. Stop off at this site as you cruise along the Avenue of the Giants, a 31 mile scenic highway stretching from the Garberville to Fortuna areas. Be sure to open your windows for the awe-inspiring ride overlooking the Eel River. The breeze will whip through your hair and cool your senses as you wind through seemingly mystical woodlands.
With a variety of interesting local sites and towns (I’ll get to those later), Humboldt Redwoods State Park makes a fabulous destination for family vacations or even weekend getaways. I find it to be the perfect escape during the peak heat days of summer, as temperatures here remain pleasant during the summer. Just remember to bring a jacket when you go walking through the forest and to zip up those sleeping bags if you camp. Shady areas can get quite chilly, and nights here are downright cold.
I know—a whole vacation centered on trees. How exciting can it get? But trust me—you don’t want to miss these colossal stars of the nature world. Their grandeur will overwhelm and humble you and pretty much ruin you for any other tree on this planet. They still manage to take my breath away every summer after all these years.