Redwood National Park is in a seismically active place. In fact, the closest town to it, Crescent City, has recorded 37 earthquake-caused tsunamis since 1933. That’s more than any other Pacific Coast community. The 9.2 quake that rearranged much of Alaska in 1964 caused 4 surges in Crescent City. The last, a 21-feet-above-sea-level water monster, was the worst. It inundated 60 Crescent City blocks, resulted in 12 deaths, and caused more damage than was experienced in Anchorage. I read this in the helpful Redwood National Park Visitor Guide.
Redwood is different from other National Parks in several other ways. Its official name is Redwood National and State Parks. The California State Parks system was 100-years-old when Redwood was declared a National Park in 1964. It had already established 3 parks–Prairie Creek, Del Norte, and Jedediah Smith–in the area in the 1920s. The 4 parks joined together to better protect the remaining 40,000 acres of old-growth redwoods, the world’s tallest trees. As a result, there are several visitor centers, resident Roosevelt elk, and many miles of wild seashore west of the trees.
Redwood National Park’s tide pools and seastacks are impressive in pictures, but Ruth & I only saw them from a distance. We had only one day to revisit this area. Visitors with lots of time can take ranger-led tide pool walks, hike more than 200 miles of trails, etc.
We stopped at 3 visitor centers. One of the better ones was actually in Crescent City, where the lady in charge tried to get us to drive what she called the best redwood experience in the area, the unpaved Bald Hills Road in the National Park. The tamer and paved Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway through much of Prairie Creek State Park and the previously blogged Avenue of the Giants provided more than enough trees by day’s end. Those who, like us, continue south along US 101 should also visit Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California’s best redwood experience, and hug a few giants.
A couple of the State Park visitor centers were not opened the day we drove through. That was OK because we still managed to see the 3 that were. Kuchel in the actual National Park was traditional. It’s 12 minute film, Land of the Giants, was packed with information about redwoods. When we asked the ranger if we were likely to see some of the once-highly-endangered Roosevelt elk, she said that was likely but that “the elk are on to us.” She laughed knowingly but didn’t explain what she meant by that. As you can see in the photo above, we succeeded.
If you remember drive-through trees being a part of the Redwood experience, be alerted to the fact that carving a road through a giant tree is no longer PC. However, 3 drive-throughs remain along US 101 in the hamlets of Klamath, Myers Flat, and Legget if you want to give the kids a memorable thrill. None are in parks.