This blog post details several stops on a great summer California road trip, which included Yosemite –> Lake Tahoe –> Lassen Volcanic National Park –> Redwoods National and State Parks –> Highway 101 to Highway 1 along the coast –> San Francisco.
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Redwoods National Park
There are no entry fees for visiting Redwoods National Park, because it’s also a State Park, but there are day passes required in certain areas within the park. This part of California is home to some of the tallest and oldest trees in the world, aging up to over 1,500 years! The magnitude is really astounding; to be standing amongst giants is truly a humbling perspective.
Here are some of the top sights within and around the park:
- Fern Canyon (if you have the annual national park pass, you’ll get in free, otherwise it’s $10, cash or check only)
- Lady Bird Johnson Grove (1.5 miles RT, flat)
- Tall Trees Grove
- Klamath River Overlook
- Avenue of the Giants
- Drive-Thru Tree Park ($10 admission fee; go through a tree that is over 2,400 years old)
Steven Spielberg described Fern Canyon as “an unforgettable natural wonder” and loved it so much he selected it as a location for Jurassic Park 2. This 80-foot canyon has been carved over eons of natural formation, its canyon walls lined with verdant ferns, dripping with fresh water. It feels as though you’re walking into a natural outdoor spa, soft water streaming by your feet as you hear the drip, drip from the water falling off of the fingers of the ferns, dropping to the moist earth below.
We ran into a bear in the forest, but I wasn’t afraid…I confronted the bear head on…it was petrified. 😂 (joke from Sasha, I can’t steal the credit.)
Lady Bird Johnson Grove
This easy 1.5-mile round trip is flat and enables you to see some of the most remarkably tall redwoods, stretching up towards the heavens, their trunks solidly rooted in the earth.
Drive-Thru Tree Park
This park is operated by a family-run business, and they charge $10 to get in. You can drive your car through a 2,400-year-old tree (or if your vehicle is too large, there’s a way to go around it instead.) That’s pretty much the only attraction here, plus a gift shop, a restroom, and a few statues of Sasquatch.
I coordinated my favorite tank, which was appropriate for visiting some of the coolest trees in the world!
Just on the other side of the redwoods forest is the beach, hugging the Pacific Ocean! I love all the little islands jutting out from the deep blue.
From here, if you’re headed South, I recommend stops in Mendocino (Fort Bragg and Glass Beach), and Point Arena Lighthouse.
The site was once a trash dump, so broken bottles became smooth, colorful glass pebbles, which co-mingled with the natural sand, creating a colorful beach. Unfortunately even though removing the sand from this beach is illegal, people have still done so over the years, so now very little colorful pieces remain.
Sasha and I are wildly biased, but we think that San Francisco is the *second* most beautiful city in the U.S. (after our home city, Seattle). We love the charming and quaint neighborhoods and steep inclined hills with water views and mystical fog. We only had a few hours to spend walking around the city before we caught our flight back home, but we highly recommend coffee at Saint Frank and lunch at Roma Antico for a true authentic Italian experience that made us feel like we were back in Italy!
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