- The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes. Marcel Proust
Visit Redwood National and State Parks
Redwoods are the tallest trees on Earth and although once found over two million acres of northwest California they have been reduced by extensive logging during the last 150 years to various isolated patches all along the northern half of the coast, starting around the Monterey Peninsula south of San Francisco (the Big Basin Redwoods) and extending north into Oregon. They grow in quite a narrow band, from the shore up to 30 miles inland, with the largest specimens usually found just a few miles from the ocean, where growing conditions are optimum - the redwood trees require moderate temperatures and high year-round water supply. The latter is provided in winter by the frequent Pacific rain systems and in summer by the dense fog that covers the coast most mornings, conditions which besides the redwoods sustain other large trees - Douglas fir, oak and western hemlock, plus a great variety of bushes and ferns, creating a very dense forest parts of which have the greatest concentration of biomass (living matter) in the world.
A number of isolated redwood groves are protected as state reserves and state parks (including Humboldt Redwoods), but the largest and most famous area is in the far northwest corner of California. In the 1920s, three separate regions became state parks (Del Norte, Jedediah Smith, Prairie Creek), then in 1968 various parts of the adjacent forest became Redwood National Park, creating a contiguous preserve stretching 50 miles from north to south. All four areas are now jointly administered by the NPS and the California Department of Parks and Recreation, and offer plenty to see apart from the forested slopes including narrow canyons, rivers, sandy beaches, coastal bluffs and wildlife viewing, elk being the most commonly observed large species.