The Giant Redwoods of California are the tallest and one of the most massive tree species on Earth. They can grow up to 380 feet (115m) in height and up to 26 feet (8m) in diameter. These trees can live up to 2,200 years. The Giant Redwoods are an evergreen tree only found in California. The soft, fibrous tree bark is up to 12 inches thick with a red-brown color. No tour of California is complete without seeing the massive Giant Redwoods.
Location of the Giant Redwoods
The Giant Redwoods can be found in a narrow strip of coastal California land less than 500 miles long from Big Sur to just north of the Oregon border. The depth inland ranges from as small as 5 miles to 47 miles at the widest point.
The Redwoods National and State Parks are a group of parks with a total area of more than 130,000 acres located in Del Norte and Humboldt Counties along the coast of Northern California. These parks protect 45% of the remaining Coastal Redwood old-growth forests.
Tallest Redwood Tree
The current tallest tree is Hyperion, was not discovered until 2006. This Giant Redwood measures in at 379.1 feet (115.55 m) tall. Hyperion is located in a remote area of the Redwood National Park purchased in 1978, during the Carter Administration. The exact location of the tree has not been revealed to the public for fear of damage to the area by tourism.
Other Giant Redwood Facts
- There are 15 known living trees more than 361 feet (110 m) tall.
- A tree claimed to be 115.8 m (380 feet) was cut down in 1912.
- The tallest non-redwood tree is a 100.3 m (329 foot) tall Douglas-fir.
- The second and third tallest giant redwoods are Helios and Icarus which are 376.3 and 371.2 feet tall respectively. They were also undiscovered until 2006 by Atkins & Taylor.
- Some of the larger and older redwoods have extensive life high up in the canopy. One tree, Poseidon, has a fern garden as large as a truck in it.
Accommodations & Lodging near the Giant Redwoods
The DeMartin Redwood Youth Hostel is the only lodging facility within the parks’ boundaries. Although labeled as a youth hostel, all ages are welcome to enjoy the inexpensive shared accommodations.
There are several nearby towns with hotels & inns. Eureka on the southern end and Crescent City on the northern end both offer a wide range of accommodation options.
Hiking in the Back Country of Redwoods National and State Parks
While the state parks have front country campsites that can be driven to, the federal sections of the park do not, and hiking is the only way of reaching back country campsites. The back country is regulated to prevent overuse, but structured to allow as many groups as possible to enjoy the forest. Back country camping is limited to five nights at a time and 15 nights in a year. You are required to pack in and out any garbage. Food should be stored securely to reduce the risk of a bear encounter.
These back country campsites are at Mill Creek campground in Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park and Jedediah Smith campground in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, which together have 251 campsites, the Elk Prairie campground in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park which has 75, and the Gold Bluffs Beach campground which has 25 campsites. Other nearby state parks have additional front country camping. Back country camping is by permit only and is only allowed in designated sites, except on gravel bars along Redwood Creek.
Almost 200 miles (320 km) of hiking trails exist in the parks. Throughout the year, trails are often wet and hikers need to be well prepared for rainy weather. Be sure to seek out the information centers for trail conditions prior to setting out.
Drive Through the Redwood Tree
The drive through trees have received much attention through the years. All are located along Highway 101 outside the Redwood National and State Parks. As you drive north on 101 the Chandelier tree is the first you’ll encounter in the town of Leggett. The Shrine Drive-Thru Tree is the next one and can be found off the Avenue of the Giants exit near the town Myer Flat. The Klamath Tour Thru Tree is the farthest north. Exit on Terwer Valley in the town of Klamath and follow the signs. Each of these are Giant Coastal Redwoods and charge an admission.
Weather at the Redwood Parks
Summers are generally mild. The sunny weather is more common inland, with cooler temperatures and fog often seen near the coastline. Winters see a large increase of rain and cooler weather. Be sure to wear layers of clothing to be able to adapt to a wide range of temperatures. Nights are often much cooler than the days. The forest is green from the rainfall; consequently some form of rain protection is needed year-round. Of course good walking shoes are a must.
Visitor Centers at the Redwood Parks
|Crescent City||1111 Second Street, Crescent City, CA||(707) 464-6101
|year-Round||9am to 5pm|
|Hiouchi||US Highway 199 at Hiouchi, CA||(707) 464-6101
|mid June to mid September||9am to 5pm|
|Jedediah Smith||US Highway 101 at Hiouchi, CA||(707) 464-6101
|May 20th to Sept 30th||9am to 5pm|
|Prairie Creek||Just off US Highway 101, along Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway||(707) 464-6101
|March to November||varies|
|Redwood||Along US Highway 101 at Orick, CA||(707) 464-6101
|year-round||9am to 5pm|
Links of Interest
- Redwood National and State Parks - official government web site for the parks
- Redwood National Park - unofficial site with a lot of information about visiting
- Prairie Creek & Jedediah Smith Redwoods - great site with many photos and stories of the back country in the redwoods parks
- Humboldt Redwoods State Park - site specific to the popular Humboldt Park
- Eureka Hotels - Check pricing and availability for accommodations in the Eureka area
- Crescent City Hotels - Check pricing and availability for accommodations in the Crescent City area