The RV Park in Napa Valley was fully booked for the Memorial Day weekend, so it was time to continue our journey north to a park we could get into for the weekend. Tom called around and found a small Passport America park, Richardson Grove RV Park, at the southern end of the Coastal Redwood region. It was an easy drive, and we were quickly set for the weekend.
We had no TV signal, no Verizon coverage, and marginal campground wifi . . . it was going to be an “unplugged” weekend!
We were surrounded by giant redwoods, and just down the road from the “Avenue of Giants” in the Humboldt Redwood State Park.
Coastal redwoods are taller than any other living thing. They can live over 2000 years and withstand fires, floods and insects. Many of the groves along the Avenue of Giants have never been logged. They are old growth coastal redwoods. Their average age is 400 – 600 years old.
We started the Auto Tour at Phillipsville, winding our way through the giant trees.
We stopped at many of the pullouts to admire the majestic trees.
Many of the trees have interesting shapes and sizes, and some have these growths on them called burls. The burls are a result of the tree undergoing some kind of stress.
Years ago, there was a lot of logging of redwoods going on, and these rare forests were at risk of being wiped out. Many people saw the value of preserving these old trees, and founded an organization to save them.
The Founders Grove is named for them, as many other groves in the area are named for families that contributed to the preservation of the redwoods. We stopped at the Founders Grove to walk the trail through some of the oldest trees in this area.
Walking through the woods here felt like walking in a jungle – there were ferns growing everywhere, an moss on many of the trees.
In the center of Founders Grove, there are several really huge fallen logs, including the Dyersville Giant.
These were some of the oldest and tallest trees in the area, until they were knocked down during a storm in 1991. Now they are nurturing the growth of new redwoods by allowing light to get into the forest. There is even a redwood growing out of the stump of the Dyersville Giant!
The giant redwoods and giant sequoias that we saw a few weeks ago are very similar – they belong to the same family – the redwoods get a little taller and thrive in the moist atmosphere of the coast, and the sequoias get bigger in diameter and grown only above 6000 feet in the mountains of the Sierra Nevadas.
The redwoods are just as amazing as the sequoias, and we enjoyed our tour through the Avenue of Giants!
until we reached the little Victorian town of Ferndale.
It was a cute little town with quaint shops and restaurants, and I would have liked to explore it some more, but the kids wanted to drive the coastal loop back around to Garberville, where we were going to church that afternoon.
We found the turnoff for the loop road, and started driving up into the mountains. The roads were steep and narrow going through the woods, and as we got closer to the coast, we were going in and out of a dense fog.
We eventually drove through the fog, though, and reached the top of a bluff overlooking the ocean – it was really beautiful!
At the bottom of the hill was a ranch, and there were cattle all around us.
We had only driven about 10 miles of the loop road so far, and it took us over half an hour, so we decided that we should probably turn around and take 101 back to Garberville, or we’d never make it to mass on time . . . as it was we still ended up being 5 minutes late!
Back at the RV Park, Tom and I wandered over to check out the tourist traps across the street.
Many of the really big, old trees are on private property and have been turned into these type of hokey tourist stops – including all of the “drive thru” trees – but fortunately many more are included in the Redwood National and State Parks, so they will be preserved . . . and not turned into uncomfortable bear chairs!