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California Fly Drive Destination
Redwood National Park

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Redwood National Park

Redwood National Park occupies a strip of coastal land up near the northern California border with Oregon. Enclosed by the National Park are the Prarie Creek Redwoods State Park, the Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park and the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. These are the last major strongholds for these magnificent trees which only flourish in the unique climate of the Pacific coast of the USA. Together the parks are known as 'Redwood'. For the film buffs among you, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park was where the chase scenes on the Moon of Endor (remember the Ewoks ?) were filmed in the Star Wars Film Return of the Jedi.

The only major town of any size is Crescent City at the north end of the parks. I could find very little information about Crescent City before we journeyed save a reference to it in the Lonely Planet guide which said it was run down and grim following a cyclone that devastated the town. As a consequence we stayed at Klamath further down the coast. However, we drove through Crescent City on our way down from Oregon and visited the Park Headquarters there. I have to say it looked a nice place from what we saw and I could not back up what the Lonely Planet guide said.

Thumbnail of picture of redwood tree. I had expected to enjoy but not to be surprised by the redwoods having visited Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks . However, the natural splendour of North America surprised me yet again. You feel humbled and tiny in the presence of these ancient gigantic living things. Click on the picture to the left for a full sized view

A biology lesson : The coastal redwood tree (sequoia sempervirens) is a different although related species to the giant sequioas of the sierra nevadas (sequioadendron giganteum). The giant sequioas have very brittle wood making them of no commercial value. The opposite is true of the coastal redwoods whose wood is sought after making logging very attractive which almost resulted these giants being wiped out. Their range used to cover most of the coast but now they only survive in large numbers in enclaves like Redwood. The coastal redwood is the tallest tree ever recorded at 367.8 feet tall (over the height of the 30 storey building). The oldest known coastal redwood to be felled was 2,200 years old. However, some sources believe the redwood could be virtually immortal. Scattered all over a redwood are burls (a wart-like growth of dormant buds). If a redwood blows over killing the parent trunk, the burls along its upper side spring into life feeding initially from the parent trees roots that still remain, eventually sending their own roots over the side of the parent tree into the ground. The original trunk ultimately rots away leaving a row of trees genetically identical to the original. This phenomenon can be repeated endlessly and you can clearly see it in evidence as you walk around the redwood groves once you are alerted to it. Does the original tree die or not ? End of lesson

We spent two and a half days in and around redwood and I would recommend the following :-

Thumbnail of picture of redwood tree. The Simpson Reed Trail on the 199 north east of Crescent City. A few short steps from the side of the road and you are in a different world.

The Trees of mystery at Klamath. See the wonders of this amazing tree species up close. Click on the picture to the right to see one of the attractions.

Hidden beach at Klamath. Walk through the woods to this isolated bay with rocks at either end, sandy beach in the middle, rocks covered in weathered tree branches washed ashore at the back of the beach and the pacific breakers crashing in in front of you.

Thumbnail of picture of gold bluffs beach. Klamath overlook. Spectacular panoramic views over the pacific and the mouth of the Klamath River. Apparently at the right time of year you can see whales offshore. Click on the picture to the right for a larger view

Gold Bluffs Beach and Fern Canyon.
You are richly rewarded for driving the unmade road for 3-4 miles. The road dust coats the undergrowth giving it a ghostly look. At the end of the road there is a magnificent beach backed by gold coloured (and gold containing apparently) bluffs. Click on the picture to the right for a larger view Thumbnail of picture of gold bluffs beach.

Eaten into these bluffs is Fern Canyon an enchanted walk along a vertically walled flat bottomed canyon with a meandering stream and fern covered walls.

Thumbnail of picture of gold bluffs beach. At the entrance to the road to gold bluffs and Fern Canyon is Elk Meadows where these magnificent creatures can be seen. Click on the picture to the right for a larger view

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