From the Redwood Forest…
Seeing the giant trees of the Redwood National and State Parks should be on an Americana bucket list. It’s a lengthy eight hours from Carson City, but a very scenic route no matter which way you take.
The Redwoods area is divided into several state parks, and the national park. A volunteer working at the Kuchel Visitor Center explained the state parks were created first, and most of the old growth (larger redwoods) is located there. The Redwood National Park was created on Oct. 2, 1968. The logging industry cut down many trees before the designation, so the redwoods in the national park are smaller and referred to as “new growth.”
The forest stretches along 40 miles of the Pacific coastline. There are places to park a RV, stay in a motel or set up a tent.
There is a primitive campground south of Klamath called Flint Ridge. It requires a permit from the park service, which can be obtained easily. It was a bit tricky to find, but it is well worth it if you’re able to hike your gear up a hill for a quarter-mile or so. The ocean is in view from some campsites, through the thick brush. The waves crashing down below can be heard the entire time. During this trip in April, the harbor seals could be heard barking along the beach and several species of birds were very active in the trees.
The National Park Service does a tremendous job of sharing history of the park along with activities to do. There are several short walks that will put give you access to the large trees and beautiful canopies. The park includes six trails that are ADA accessible, which gives so many more people the opportunity to get enjoy the forest. A favorite is the Circle Trail. It’s a half-mile long and it leads to Big Tree wayside, which includes the tree with the largest circumference of the park at 74.5 feet. There are also longer hiking options available to get deeper into nature.
There are four scenic drives the park promotes. These drives are about 10 miles each and can take up to 45 minutes to enjoy. Check the park’s website to see details about each.
The most fascinating part of the area comes from the wildlife. Once you get there, you start seeing signs for elk viewing. While taking a drive down Davison Road one evening, it was a shock to see some walking out of the woods toward a field. And the elk kept coming and coming. There had to be 30-40 in the herd. They walked right along the road between the guardrails to the next field — probably 10-15 feet away from the car. The woman at the visitor center said they had a few large herds. The elk were a common sighting if you kept driving through that area — sometimes seen just hanging out in people’s yards.
Where the Klamath River met the Pacific, there was an abundance of wild activity. Seals were swimming the entire time, until dusk when they came on shore to rest. They would go underwater then pop up and stare at us on shore. There was a sign saying whales could be seen from the area, but the volunteer at the visitor center said the whales did not come in close to shore this year.
There were several types of birds hunting as well. An amazing moment was seen when a peregrine falcon flew over where much of the activity was going on. The bird dived toward the water at incredible speed. It hovered right there and snatched an eel or lamprey right from the ocean. The falcon flew up and away with it’s catch. A few more were seen flying on the beach with dinner clutched in the talons. The turkey vultures moved in afterward, as they must have been there for the leftovers. A great blue heron perched itself atop the rocks waiting for its meal as well.
Most of the birds swimming with the seals were probably cormorants; there was a moment a seal stole a fish from one. The forest had many birds you could hear, but they weren’t as obvious to notice due to the brush.
There were slugs and snails everywhere as well — not a common sight around Nevada. The campsite also warned of bears, so take precautions when it comes to food and scented items in vehicles and camp.
One other place visited during this trip was Fern Canyon. This canyon has magnificent ferns draped along both sides to give a unique atmosphere. Small waterfalls trickle down the sides into the canyon. The creek flows at a steady pace, and it’s good to wear waterproof boots here, or plan to get your feet wet to really enjoy the place. Besides its beauty, the canyon is famous for filming a scene from the 1997 film “The Lost World: Jurassic Park.”
Put the Redwoods on your bucket list. It’s worth the experience.