Find out how to experience the California redwood trees in five unique, exciting ways.
As I walked across soft dirt trails, gazing up every other step at hundreds of ancient redwood trees, my head span with musings about the small place we humans hold in this world. Heritage wise, these redwoods have thousands of years on us — some date back to the dinosaurs. Size wise, well, few things put life into perspective like standing beneath a 300-foot giant.
For some reason, I enjoy this sense of scale. It reinforces the unimportance of material minutiae, because Mother Nature has much bigger matters for us to focus on — literally.
The majestic redwood trees can be found across northern California, and are on the bucket (or live it!) list of many. I checked these bad boys out for myself this summer and – obviously – remain a fan.
Here are a few unique ways you can experience the famous redwood trees on your next trip to California.
1. Redwood National Forest
Perhaps the most popular place to gaze up at these beauties, Redwood National Forest contains more than 131,000 acres of beautiful trees. We actually didn’t make it out here (bummer!), but as you can infer from the name, it’s a go-to spot for all you redwoods seekers.
Where: Crescent City, CA
2. Avenue of the Giants
As a Game of Thrones fan, the “Giants” name pulled me in. And while I know the wildling giant wasn’t going to come back to life here, I was nonetheless on a mission to see this avenue for myself.
The “avenue” is a 31-mile drive along a quiet, redwood-lined part of “old Highway 101” in Humboldt County. It’s home to trees dating back thousands of years, as well as multiple hiking routes and it was named one of 1,000 places to see before you do. So yeah. Kind of a big deal.
It’s free to park at the visitor center and hike around, and there are free bathrooms, just in case you’re a chronic road trip restroom seeker (yours truly).
Where: Humboldt County, CA
3. Chandelier “Drive-Thru” Tree
Why stare up at the redwoods when you can drive right through one? Okay, so I can think of many reasons to just stare up, but if you’re looking for an unusual redwoods experience, the Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree is a must-see (er, drive through).
While a bit hokey and way overcrowded, it was an interesting way to see these trees – and a good test of our driving skills in a (gulp) rental car. Does insurance cover drive-thru tree scrapes? Yeah… Probably not.
Where: Legget, CA
4. Limekiln State Park
While it’s known more for epic coastal scenery and the old-school Bixby Bridge, the Big Sur is also home to some beautiful redwood trees in spots like the Limekiln State Park. The park is about halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, and deserves at least a couple hours of exploring.
Side note, Limeklin has waterfalls, too, so get those long exposures ready!
Where: Big Sur, CA
5. Muir Woods
If you’re in San Francisco but don’t have the time to road trip up north, you can still see the redwoods (although you should absolutely plan to make enough time for a road trip and come back!). Muir Woods, which is right near Sausalito on the northern side of the Golden Gate Bridge, has a gorgeous redwood forest.
And, it was named after John Muir, AKA “The mountains are calling” … so you must go.
Where: San Francisco, CA
I’ll be honest, I knew I’d enjoy frolicking among the redwood trees, but I didn’t realize how much. These tall, towering beauties took my breath away every step, and left me absolutely mesmerized by the thousand-year-old tales they could tell.