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In Photos: California’s Redwood National Parks

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Sun rays through the redwood trees in Avenue of the Giants

Sun rays through the redwood trees in Avenue of the Giants

Howland Hill Road Redwood Trees

Howland Hill Road Redwood Trees

After a few days driving down through Oregon, we finally reached California. The first major town across the border was Crescent City. Stopping at the local library/tourist information office I was surprised to find a talkative park ranger manning the desk. I guess I was expecting more of a quiet librarian, given the location.

I was only there to pick up some more brochures, but after chatting for a while the ranger asked if we were driving a 4×4 vehicle. We pointed to the car out the window and he directed us to an unpaved stretch of road just outside of town, where he’d been working that morning.

Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park

This park spans the border between Oregon and California. The usual place to visit is the Redwood Highway, home to three quarters of the world’s 100 tallest trees. The ranger suggested visiting Howland Hill Road, right in the middle of the park.

A quick drive through the suburbs led us to a turning into the forest. Despite warnings, the roads weren’t too muddy and we could probably have made it in a normal car, but the 4×4 was a bonus. Being away from the crowds and tarmac, we had the place to ourselves for over an hour.

Gotta love the advice of Park Rangers!

Avenue of the Giants

Further down Highway 101 we took a slight detour along the Avenue of the Giants. Here a 33-mile long stretch of road passes directly through Humboldt Redwoods State Park. The trees are not as tall, but far more dense here and only a few shafts of sunlight reach the road.

The Coast Redwood trees here reach up to 346ft tall. The previous tallest tree was the Dyerville Giant, at 370ft, but that fell in 1991. There’s supposedly an entrance fee to the Avenue of the Giants of $8, but we saw nowhere to pay…

Turning away from the main avenue there are all sorts of picnic spots, information offices and swimming holes. Despite all the attractions we only saw a few other cars in the couple of hours we were there.

Arcata

Arcata is another town, like Newport, that is lauded in all the guidebooks as a cosy little place to visit, full of quirky attractions. It may well be, but arriving after 6pm, everything was closed for the night, even many of the restaurants.

Howland Hill Road Redwood Trees

Off the usual track in Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park

Driving through Avenue of the Giants

Driving through Avenue of the Giants

Steam coming off the road in Avenue of the Giants

Steam rising, where the sun touches the road in Avenue of the Giants

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Author

Since leaving London in 2006 I’ve travelled, worked, volunteered and lived in over 90 countries. Highlights so far would be driving along the Silk Road from Beijing to Istanbul, a complete circuit of South America and volunteering with Habitat for Humanity in Costa Rica. I’m currently back in Beijing, as a base to visit more of Asia and attempt to learn Mandarin.

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