The park is about 20 miles north of Trinidad on CA 101. Before we entered the park we were lucky enough to see this herd of Roosevelt Elk at the Little Red Schoolhouse. This herd is frequently seen at this location.
The Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center was our first stop in the national park. As always, the park rangers provided us with good information about the sights to see in the park, dog-friendly locations, and maps of the state parks, too. There are displays about the fascinating coastal redwood trees and Native Americans that made this area their home for thousands of years.
Behind the Visitor Center is a trail that leads to the Pacific coastline.
Fun facts about Coastal Redwoods (sequoia sempervirens):
- 160,000,000 - years ago redwoods thrived in the Jurassic Era
- 379 - feet tall (the tallest living thing on earth)
- 95 - percent of the world's old growth redwoods are in Northern California
- 80 - percent of the remaining old growth trees are protected in parks and reserves
- 29 - feet in diameter of largest redwood
We continued north to the Lady Bird Johnson Grove.
This is a loop trail through a stand of ancient redwood trees. Lady Bird Johnson came to this site in 1968 for the dedication of the Redwood National Park. She returned in 1969 when the grove was named for her in recognition of her efforts to preserve this area for future generations to enjoy. The plaque at a clearing in the grove commemorates the occasion.
Redwoods can sprout from the roots of parent trees, from dormant buds in the burls at the base of the tree, or from fallen trees. If a tree is cut or burned, a family circle of trees (also known as a fairy ring) may sprout from the stump. Subsequent generations of the sprouts are really clones of the original tree.
While the trunk of this redwood has been destroyed by fire, it continues to thrive. Two of the photos were taken while standing in the center of the hollow trunk of a huge tree. Note the healthy grow at the top of this redwood.
Many pink rhododendrons were in bloom along the trail. Also, this parasitic plant reminded us of Spanish moss (aka French Beard) found in the southeastern part of the US.
Hiking this path provides the opportunity to soak in the beauty and serenity of this ancient grove. It is, indeed, a spiritual experience to be among these giants.
Ferns cover much of the forest floor in the grove. A pedestrian bridge provides access to the grove from the parking lot.
Our next stop was Gold Bluffs, a dog-friendly beach where we knew we could walk with our doggy, Sadie. There is a day-use fee of $8 to access this area. Our National Park senior pass got us in for free. The beach was deserted and the surf is very rough here. Be sure to wear layers of clothes as the beaches are windy and quite chilly even in sunny weather.
These are the plants we saw in the dunes...so different from the Atlantic coastal regions from New Jersey to Florida.
We continued north on CA 101 to the Klamath River Overlook accessed via Requa Road. The Klamath River reaches the Pacific Ocean here.
Native Americans, the Yurok People, have lived in this area for thousands of years fishing the Klamath for salmon and trout and building dugout canoes from the huge redwood trees. The views from the overlook are spectacular.
This is a great location for whale watching. I thought I saw one and snapped multiple photos of the wake far out to sea. But when I downloaded the photos and took a closer look, it was a ship!
This was the final stop of the day for us. We were exhausted from the drama of our RV being towed in for service and not knowing what the problem is. But spending time in this beautiful park was very therapeutic and soothing for us. We will be returning to do some hiking and see other parts of the park in the next few days.
For information about Redwoods National Park, check out their website.