REDWOOD NATIONAL PARK
Redwood National and State Parks are home to some of the world's tallest trees: old-growth coast redwoods. They can live to be 2000 years old and grow to over 300 feet tall. Spruce, hemlock, Douglas-fir, berry bushes, and sword ferns create a multiple canopied understory that towers over all visitors. The parks' mosaic of habitats include prairie/oak woodlands, mighty rivers and streams, and 37 miles of pristine Pacific coastline. Cultural landscapes reflect American Indian history. The more recent logging history has led to much restoration of these parks.
Three California state parks and the National Park Service unit represent a cooperative management effort of the National Park Service and California Department of Parks and Recreation. They are Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, and Redwood National Park, comprising 45 percent of all the old-growth redwood forest remaining in California.
Together these parks are a World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve, protecting resources cherished by citizens of many nations.
A variety of wildlife species call RNSP home. The diversity of ecosystems in the parks means that creatures as different as black bears, sea stars, and bald eagles can be seen by a lucky visitor in a single day. In addition to the more common inhabitants, many threatened and endangered species rely on the parks' old-growth forests, open prairies, estuaries, and the coastline for crucial havens of survival.
Marine mammals such as sea lions and gray whales are among the most visible wildlife in the parks. Visitors are also likely to see Roosevelt elk browsing in the prairies. Pelicans, ospreys, and gulls are frequently spotted along the coast. Of course, tidepool creatures aren't likely to run very far at your approach, so anenomes and crabs are easy to spot too.
While you're out watching wildlife at RNSP, remember that all wildlife is protected in the parks. Never feed or approach animals such as bears, mountain l
ions, elk, chipmunks, racoons, or rabbits. Please treat the members of this natural community with respect.
At RNSP, visitors often come just to see the redwoods. They are the world's tallest trees, but they are also just one species in an incredibly varied ecosystem. From the wind-pruned, salt-tolerant Sitka spruce by the seaside, to the cool, moist redwood groves, and sunny, open grasslands of the prairies, visitors can find an interconnected community of greenery.
In this narrow zone where land meets sea, salt-laden winds, cold fog-shrouded days, steep slopes, and sandy beaches conspire against plants. Only the toughest survive. Their stunted size and wind-pruned shapes bear witness to an ongoing bout with the parks' harshest environment.
Dunes shift with the action of wind and water. Beach pea, beach strawberry, and sand verbena adapt to this dynamic environment by anchoring themselves with long runners on or below the surface.
Hardy Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis), able to withstand salt winds and harsh conditions better than other conifers, dominate the most exposed forest sites. Crescent Beach, Gold Bluffs Beach, Freshwater Lagoon Spit, and the Coastal Trail are great places to discover these tenacious maritime residents.
The coast redwood (Sequoia semperviren) and Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) are the two dominant trees of the old-growth redwood forest. The species associated with redwood groves varies according to whether an area is upland, streamside (riparian), along a flood plain (alluvial), or close to the ocean.
Salt spray and salt-laden wind injure redwoods; the beach, dune, and scrub communities provide the coast redwood with a buffer from the harsh coastal climate.
he protected valleys and alluvial flats found along streams and creeks provide ideal growing conditions for the coast redwood, with many trees exceeding 300 feet (100 meters) in height. Other trees include hardwoods such as tanoak (Lithocarpus densiflora), madrone (Arbutus menziesii), big-leaf maple (Acer macrophyllum), California bay or laurel (Umbellularia californica), and red alder (Alnus rubra). Sword fern (Polystichum munitum) and redwood sorrel (Oxalis oregana) are the most common members of redwoods' understory, and are accompanied by rhododendron (Rhododendron macrophyllum), huckleberry (Vaccinium spp.), salal (Gaultheria shallon), azalea (Rhododendron occidentele), and other shrubs.
On dry, windy slopes and ridges, redwood growth is limited by water stress. Here, trees may reach an average height of 200 feet (61 meters) or less.
At higher elevations, and further inland, redwood seedling establishment is limited by hotter, drier conditions, and the redwood forest gives way to a mixed evergreen forest. Dry forest species include Douglas-fir, tanoak, madrone, California bay, chinquapin (Chrysolepis chrysophylla), canyon live oak (Quercus chysolepis), and Jeffrey pine (Pinus jeffreyi).
When Euro-Americans swept westward in the 1800s, they needed raw material for their homes and lives. Commercial logging followed the expansion of America as companies struggled to keep up with the furious pace of progress. Timber harvesting quickly became the top manufacturing industry in the west.
When gold was discovered in northwestern California in 1850, the rush was on. Thousands crowded the remote redwood region in search of riches and new lives. These people were no less dependent upon lumber, and the redwoods conveniently provided the wood the people needed. By 1853, nine sawmills were at work in Eureka, a gold boom town established three years prior due to the gold boom. Large-scale logging was soon underway and the once immense stands of redwoods began to disappear by the close of the 19th century.
By the 1910s, some concerned citizens began to clamor for the preservation of the dwindling stands of redwoods. The Save-the-Redwoods League was born out of this earnest group, and eventually the League succeeded in helping to establish the redwood preserves of Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.
But still logging continued in those parts of the forests that were privately owned, accelerated by WW II and the economic boom of the 1950s. By the 1960s, logging had consumed nearly 90 percent of all the original redwoods. It wasn?t until 1968 that Redwood National Park was established, which secured some of the few remaining stands of uncut redwoods. In 1978, Congress added more land that included logged-over portions of Redwood Creek. Today, these lands are undergoing large-scale restoration by the parks' resource managers. Logging continues on privately-held lands nearby and throughout the redwood region.
Save the Redwoods League:
When redwood logging reached a fever pitch by the 1890s, most of the redwood forests had become privately owned. Though some people had previously proposed the idea of preservation, the huge demand for lumber in America made it impossible at the time.
By the late 1910s, it became obvious that the last remaining stands of old-growth redwoods were about to disappear. Because the trees had been linked with fossil records millions of years old, they were looked upon as a living link with the past. Thus, the urge to protect these last stands came not from an aesthetic concern, but rather a scientific one.
Paleontologists Henry Fairfield Osborn of the American Museum of Natural History, Madison Grant of the New York Zoological Society, and John C. Merriam of the University of California at Berkeley founded the Save-the-Redwoods League in 1918. The League was formed as a nonprofit organization dedicated to buying redwood tracts for preservation. Through donations and matching state funds, the League bought over 100,000 acres of redwood forest between 1920 and 1960.
The majority of these purchases consisted of North Coast redwood groves. The California Department of Parks and Recreation created Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, and Humboldt Redwoods State Park in the early 1920s with these lands. Today the League continues its protective work in partnership with RNSP.
The Memorial Grove Program of the Save-the-Redwoods League was started in 1921 when the first large donation was given to the League to purchase and dedicate a redwood grove. Now more than 700 memorial and honor groves, named for individuals and organizations, have been established in California State Parks and Redwood National Park, with more being added each year.
DeMartin Redwood Youth Hostel : Open All Year : Reservations Online
Phone : (707) 482-8265
Details : Hostel offers inexpensive shared lodging inside the parks. Contact them at 14480 Highway 101, Klamath, CA 95548
Four developed campgrounds and one overnight use area are available. No trailer hook-ups exist at any RNSP campground. Campgrounds charge different rates for summer season and off season. There is a charge for each extra vehicle per site and a day use fee. Check with reservations at 1-800-444-7275 for rates.
Reservations may be made up to six months in advance by calling 1-800-444-PARK (7275). For international calls, use (916) 638-5883. For campground facilities in neighboring communities, see our lodging page for contact information.
Jedediah Smith Campground : Located along Highway 199 in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. 106 RV or tent sites are available in an old-growth redwood forest. Length limit on RVs is 36 feet (12 m), 31 feet (10 m) for trailers. Restrooms, showers, dump station, bearproof lockers, and fire pits. Campfire programs, guided walks, and junior ranger programs offered.
Mill Creek Campground : SUMMER ONLY : Located six miles south of Crescent City off Highway 101 in Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park. 145 RV or tent sites are available in a second-growth redwood forest. Length limit on RVs is 31 feet (10 m), 27 feet (9 m) for trailers. Restrooms, showers, dump station, bearproof lockers, and fire pits. Campfire programs, guided walks, and junior ranger programs offered.
Elk Prairie Campground : Located off Highway 101 and on Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. 75 RV or tent sites are available next to a prairie and an old-growth redwood forest. Length limit on RVs is 27 feet (9 m), 24 feet (8 m) for trailers. Restrooms, showers, dump station, bearproof lockers, and fire pits. Campfire programs, guided walks, and junior ranger programs offered.
Gold Bluffs Beach Campground : No reservations. FIRST-COME, FIRST-SERVED. Located in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park at the end of Davison Road (off Highway 101). 25 RV sites are available on the beach, however RVs must be less than 24 feet ( 8 m) long and no more than eight feet (2-? m) wide. 29 tent sites are available on the beach. Restrooms, solar showers, and fire pits. Campfire programs offered.