Our main attraction to northern California was the redwoods, but we noticed as we were planning that Lassen Volcanic National Park wasn’t too far. We decided to stay near Mount Shasta and take a day trip out to Lassen Volcanic National Park while we were there.
We only spent about four hours at the park, but it seemed like you could spend a few days. The park was huge and offered scenic drives, hikes, and some awesome geothermal activity.
As I had posted in my personal blog last year, I had always wanted to see the redwoods in California. I remember flipping through this old travel book my parents had; I was always amazed at the pictures of tiny people next to massive, living, towering trees.
Having been born in California while my parents were in the Navy, I’d actually been to see the redwoods when I was a little baby. My mom always talked about them fondly, saying they were amazing and bigger than you can imagine.
When people say things are more than you can imagine, you still try to imagine them. You might even think that you’ve successfully imagined the awe inspiring feeling you’d get from looking at the redwoods… but you haven’t.
We drove from Crescent City down to San Francisco in November of 2013 on Highway 101. It was a 6.5 hour drive. Honestly, a bit short by our normal standards of driving 12+ hours per day. We even stayed in Fort Bragg for a couple nights in the middle of the drive. This gave us plenty of time to see the northern Californian coast.
The redwoods thrive and are able to grow so tall because of the fog on the west coast. John and I had never seen fog quite so thick or expansive. If I remember correctly, we were either driving through, towards, or around fog for 2-3 hours of our morning drive.
The smallest redwoods we saw were at least 2 times the size of the largest pine trees we’ve seen in Florida. In areas with older groves that weren’t bothered by loggers, looking up towards the top of the trees reminded me of looking up at the buildings in New York City. Nothing has ever made me feel smaller or more in awe of our planet.
Endert’s Beach Overlook
This was a little park near Crescent City. It has hiking trails and we took a short 30 minute hike that reminded us of something from Jurassic Park.
It was extremely foggy and wet, but we got to experience some coastal hiking and even saw one of those huge banana slugs.
The overlook was nice even if we couldn’t see much. We had initially stopped there in hopes of seeing a whale but we could barely see the water below.
Cathedral Trees Trail
We stopped at the Cathedral Trees Trail in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. This park had one of the first really large redwoods we had the opportunity to stand next to.
Meet the Big Tree:
This was a really lovely hike. I noticed that everywhere that we hiked in California, it was very quiet. Maybe it was the time of year (mid-November), but everything seemed very peaceful.
Lady Bird Johnson Grove
The Lady Bird Johnson Grove was a really short hike on a lot of boardwalks. We were here around 2pm and the sun came through the trees beautifully. I guess all of the moisture in the air gives the light a lot to play off of.
Fern Canyon was a really fun and easy hike in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. We got a little wet walking in the creek between the fern walls and saw so many different types of mushrooms.
Avenue of the Giants
Before we started driving through the Avenue of the Giants, I had it in my head that it couldn’t possibly be that great to drive through the redwoods. We had been driving through the redwoods along 101 all day, so what could be so different?
The redwoods along the Avenue of the Giants are bigger, better, and some are so close to the road you feel like you want to fold in the side-view mirrors to keep them from flying off.
The only problem is that because the trees are so enormous and not a lot of light gets through to the road, I couldn’t take good photos without stopping the car.
I often wondered if people who live near the redwoods get used to seeing them on the side of the road. I was just in awe for the entire drive, especially on the Avenue of the Giants, gasping every 10-20 minutes as we passed by another tree trunk that was at least 6 feet in diameter.
The redwoods are something everyone should see at least once in their life. Standing next to one is so humbling.
For our honeymoon in November of 2013, John and I flew to San Fransisco, California and drove around northern California for a week.
We drove to Mount Shasta from San Francisco and stayed there for the first two days of our trip.
Being from Florida, I was amazed at how gigantic this mountain was as we slowly drove toward it from the airport. It’s been a while, but I think we could see it for the last hour of the drive. There’s nothing in Florida that you can see from an 60-80 miles away. Well, except for the sky.
One of our favorite memories from our entire trip was leaving the hotel around 6am and driving up Mount Shasta to watch the sun rise.
It was so cold and so quiet. It was just a perfect moment.
Travel Blog: A couple in search of exploration points