I was in Redwood National Park in 1970 and again in 1973, although I didn’t know it, and I only saw the part on US 199, between Grants Pass, Oregon and Crescent City, California.

This time, I drove down south of Crescent City, into the first grove, where there is an 8 mile stretch with headlights required, it is so dark.  Then there is an open area through about Klamath, and then a Parkway, which takes one into the groves.  There are many trails that both parallel a small stream on both sides of the road.  This makes it easy to be near the road.  There are other trails that head deeper into the woods.

Perspective of size of Redwood:

Car next to tree. With trig, this is about 80 m. tall

Redwoods are delicate in some ways.  They cannot tolerate salt spray from the ocean, but they need to be close to the ocean to catch the ocean fog.  They stand almost all completely straight, although I found a few crooked ones.  What is amazing, aside from the height, is the number that have huge holes at the bottom, where lightning struck and burned for some time.  One tree had only four supporting parts, and the trail went right through the tree!

Redwoods, like Sequoias, to which they are related, can tolerate fire well.  The forest has limited canopy, except in those few areas where sunshine can penetrate to the forest floor.

The diameter of most of these was 3-5 meters, the height 70-90 meters.  In the canopy are species that we never knew existed, until tree climbers discovered them, high up, off the forest floor.  There is enough moisture from the coastal fog to support life, and until recently, this canopy life was unknown.  A New Yorker article in early 2005 discussed Redwood climbing.  The tallest trees are kept secret, as well they should be.  Big Tree was almost cut down 100 years ago, so somebody could allow dancing on the stump.

Big Tree — a couple said, “Aren’t they all?”

Being in the trees is being in a natural cathedral.  It is silent, for the most part, with an occasional Swainson’s Thrush calling.  The trees have been this way for 500, 1000, or 1500 years.  It really amazes me what they must have experienced during this time.  Certainly, people were around in North America at this time.

China has the oldest civilization; Europe has old cities.  North America has the biggest trees (Sequoias), the oldest plants (Bristlecone Pines), and the tallest trees (Redwoods). I think we got the best deal



  1. Denise Helmkay Says:

    Today is July 4th!!! Happy birthday America!!
    I am looking to the west and the Front Range (Littleton, Colorado). The sky is so full of smoke I can barely make out the mountain profile. First the smoke from the Ft. Collins fires blew South and our sky was bluish. Then the wind from Colorado Springs fires blew North and I could smell the wood giving up its life. Now the wind from Wyoming is blowing smoke South again. Where will this stop? The damage from the Black Bark Beetle has left even the root systems at risk as kindling. This is so depressing even in its natural expression.
    AS ??? I didn’t know where else I could submit a question to you: can you tell me where and when to look in the night sky to find the orbiting space station? I understand it is very bright and I will not need a telescope.

    day is July

    • Mike Says:

      Google heavens-above and you will get the info you need. Look up iridium flares, too. If you have an accurate watch, these are really cool to see-minus 4 mag star appears and disappears in a few seconds.

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