I’ve always wanted to go to the Redwood National Forest in Northern California. While we were out in the Pacific Northwest, we decided that it would be the perfect time to go. So we packed up the car and picked up some friends in Eugene on the way down.
After the Greyback experience in Oregon, we packed up and crossed the border into California the next day. Immediately, we were forced to pull over and go through a sort of customs. We were a little concerned, as we had an entire car full of trash containing beer and wine bottles from the previous night of camping. Luckily, a very mild Department of Agriculture employee walked out and asked us if we were carrying any fruits into California. I paused, not wanting to get the apples we had saved for breakfast confiscated by the Agriculture Gestapo, but said, “we have some apples.” Apparently, you can not transport citrus or avocados into California. Luckily we got away with the apples and continued our weekend venture down to the Redwood Forest.
The drive down to Crescent City was beautiful. We went through several forests and drove down roads which wrapped around downs and large hills for the duration of a little more than an hours drive. First thing we noticed was the curve speed / warning signs in California are not really recommendations like most places in the US. You pretty much have to go exactly that speed, or less, around the curves to avoid rolling your car. It was a pretty intense drive. Right before you reach Crescent City, if you are coming form the North, you will go through a redwood forest grove with a small pull over area for cars. We highly recommend you stop here and take the 3-5 mile hike through the groves. It was well worth it and had trees that were completely different than elsewhere in the forest.
We also did the famous “drive-thru tree,” which the Park Ranger was pretty upset about and said they would never do that to a tree. However, this tree is on private property and it is still a good experience to drive an entire vehicle, in this case a van, through a tree with plenty of room to spare. There are signs all over Highway 101 for the tree; the 101 is a highly recommended as it goes right through the national and state parks. Make sure you stop at the information center in Crescent City as the rangers there will give you the perfect trip tailored to you time schedule.
They also recommended several camping spots in the State Parks. We chose one and drove off 101 for about 30 minutes and came to a cliff overlooking the Pacific. We parked our car, and hiked all of our supplies up the hill to find a phenomenal campsite surrounded by redwoods with a view of the ocean. We could hear the Pacific rolling below us all night long while laughing and talking over a few drinks. The majesty of the redwoods and their unworldly presence was an amazing experience making it easy to understand how sci-fi and fantasy writers have used the Redwood Forest as inspiration for their books and movies. Planet Endor, in Return of the Jedi was filmed in the Redwood National Forest. A perfect set for what truly looks like another world.