Redwood National Park
Redwood National And State Parks is a United States National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is located on the North Coast of the state of California. The park protects several groves of massive redwood trees, which can live for 2000 years, grow to heights of up to 367 feet, and be as wide as 22 feet at the base of the trunk. Created by Congress to protect lands adjacent to three California state parks (Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park) in 1968 with the creation of Redwood National Park. In 1994, the California Department of Parks and Recreation and the National Park Service agreed to jointly manage the four-park area for maximum resource protection.
American Indians made their homes in the redwood forests for thousands of years before the arrival of Euro-Americans. They made their homes from split redwood planks and had considerable resources in the rich forests.
Demand for lumber accelerated throughout the years. Conservation efforts started in the early 1900s, but were largely ineffectual. 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.
The North Coast region, which includes RNSP and the adjacent offshore area, is the most seismically active region in the United States. As a result of frequent earthquakes, rapid uplift rates have led to landslides, actively braiding and shifting rivers, and rapid coastal erosion. Three tectonic plates (thin pieces of the Earth's crust which float above the mantle), the North American, Pacific, and Gorda, contact each other at the Mendocino triple junction. This junction lies offshore near Cape Mendocino, which is about 100 miles (160 km) southwest of RNSP. Each of these plates slide against each other as they slowly move in opposing directions. Movement may be as much as two or three inches (5–6 cm) a year. In the 1990s, at least nine magnitude 6.0-plus earthquakes jolted the North Coast, more than in any other decade within the last century. Because the Gorda plate is subducting beneath the North American plate, there is the possibility of a "great earthquake" occurring in the future.
The three large river systems within the park — the Smith River, the Klamath River, and Redwood Creek — have cut deep gorges through the forest and mountainous terrain. Though there are no natural ponds or lakes in the parks, there are lagoons and marshes, results of oceanic and tectonic processes. Also within the parks' boundaries are the estuaries at the mouths of the Klamath River and Redwood Creek. Salmon and steelhead populations were severely diminished by erosion due to past logging activities.
The park's coastline is home to rugged cliffs where salt-tolerant vegetation springs up among the beaches and rock faces that dominate this stretch of California's North Coast. Among the seastacks, brown pelicans and seals find a comfortable home; crabs and colorful anemones crowd the tidepools along the sea's edge.
Flora and fauna
The Coastal Redwoods are the world's tallest trees, exceeding 300 feet (100 meters) in height, and so, of course are the stars. Sitka Spruce and Douglas Fir trees also abound. Various other hardy plants survive in the narrow zone where land meets sea, salt-laden winds, cold fog-shrouded days, steep slopes, and sandy beaches conspire against plants. Further inland a greater range of hardwoods and shrubs are found.
The diverse ecosystems mean that creatures as different as black bears, sea stars, and bald eagles can be seen by the fortunate 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. Threatened and endangered species found in the park include: Bald Eagle, Brown Pelican, Chinook Salmon, Coho Salmon, Marbled Murrelet, Northern Spotted Owl, Steelhead Trout, Steller's Sea Lion, Tidewater Goby, and Western Snowy Plover.
Marine mammals such as sea lions and gray whales are among the most visible wildlife in the park. Visitors are also likely to see Roosevelt elk browsing in the prairies. Pelicans, ospreys, and gulls are frequently spotted along the coast. Tidepool creatures such as anemones and crabs are easy to spot too.
Temperatures range from 40 to 60 degrees(F) (4 to 15 degrees C) year round along the redwood coastline. Redwoods rely on the fog that envelops the coast in the summer and supplies up to 25% of the precipitation. Summers are mild at the coast with warmer temperatures inland, but the aforementioned fog can be a problem, often thick as pea soup and lasting for days to weeks. Early to middle spring and early autumn are a safer bet for sunny days. Winters are cool with considerable precipitation. Pack your rain gear and good walking shoes for the slippery rain forest. Wear layers to accommodate cool to warm temperatures.
- Crescent City Airport, 202 Dale Rupert Road, Crescent City, tel: (707) 464-7311.
- Eureka-Arcata Airport, Arcata, 1-800-241-6522 or Horizon, 1-800-225-2752.
- From the north or south, use US Highway 101. Access additional park sites via the Bald Hills Road, Davison Road, Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway, Coastal Drive, Requa Road, and Enderts Beach Road (south to north).
- From the northeast, use US Highway 199. From 199, take South Fork Road to Howland Hill Road.
- Redwood Coast Transit travels from Crescent City to Arcata, tel: (707) 464-9314, .
There is no entrance fee for Redwood National Park. The nearby state parks - Jedediah Smith, Del Norte Coast, & Prairie Creek Redwoods - charge entry fees of $5 per day.
- Hiouchi Information Center, ☎ . US Highway 199 at Hiouchi. Open from mid-June to mid-September, 9AM-5PM. Closed in the winter. Ranger-led walks, junior ranger programs, and evening campfire programs held in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, across the street. Programs occur during the summer season. Redwood National and State Parks' Junior Ranger activity newspapers are available here. Inside: Coast redwood, wildlife, and preservation history exhibits. 12-minute film on the redwoods. Outside: "Trees of the coast redwood forest" walk with waysides. Book store, picnic area, and restrooms.
- Jedediah Smith Visitor Center, ☎ . US Highway 101 at Hiouchi. Open from May 20 to September 30 from 9AM-5PM. Open winters on Friday/Saturday/Sunday from 10AM to 6PM. Closed in the winter. Ranger-led walks, junior ranger programs, and evening campfire programs occur during the summer. Redwood National and State Parks' Junior Ranger activity newspapers are available here. Coast redwood, history, and wildlife exhibits. Nature museum, gift shop, campground, dump station, picnic area, and restrooms. Many trails start here.
- Crescent City Information Center, 1111 Second St, ☎ . Crescent City. Open March - October from 9SM-5PM. Open November - February from 9AM to 4PM. Closures: Thanksgiving, December 25th, and New Year's Day. Junior Ranger activity newspapers are available here. Gift shop, picnic area, and restrooms.
- Prairie Creek Visitor Center, ☎ . Just off US Highway 101, along Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway. Open daily March - October from 9AM-5PM. Open W-Su November - February from 10AM-5PM. Closures: Thanksgiving, December 25th, New Year's Eve, and Easter. Ranger-led walks, junior ranger programs, and evening campfire programs held in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park during the summer season. Redwood National and State Parks' Junior Ranger activity newspapers are available here. Coast redwood forest, wildlife, and history exhibits. Video room available. Nature museum, gift shop, campground, dump station, picnic area, and restrooms. 70 miles of trails begin here.
- Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center, ☎ . US Highway 101 at Orick. Open March - October from 9AM-5PM. Open November - February from 9AM-4PM. Closures: Thanksgiving, December 25th, and New Year's Day. Patio talks and coast walks occur during the summer. Redwood National and State Parks' Junior Ranger activity newspapers are available here. Many exhibits in the visitor center on coast redwoods and watersheds: new technologies! kid friendly! Video room with many films available. Gift shop, picnic area, and restrooms.
The trails are especially beautiful in the early morning hours or on days of light to medium fog. In the early morning, the sun's angle through the trees produces long beams of light, creating a dramatic theatre of light and shadow and ever-changing shades of green. In the light fog, the forests become a dreamscape of incredible mystery and beauty.
- Tall Trees Grove - Access to this area is by permit only and limited to 50 cars per day. You can obtain a permit at one of the visitor centers in the park. The visitor center will provide you access via combination to the gate. You will be on dirt roads, so make sure your vehicle can handle them.
Since the closure of the Redwood National Park Hostel in January 2010 there is no longer any lodging available on park land, but lodging options are available in the towns of Klamath and Crescent City.
There are no campgrounds within Redwood National Park, but the nearby state parks do have campgrounds:
- Mill Creek Campground, toll-free: . Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park. Open from May 1 to August 14. Mill Creek campground is located 7 miles south of Crescent City on US Highway 101. 145 RV or tent sites, trailer length up to 27 feet, RVs up to 31 feet. Amenities include showers, restrooms, four loop trails, hiker/biker sites, dump station, fire pits, no hookups, handicap access, ranger-led walks, junior ranger and evening campfire programs.
- Jedediah Smith Campground, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, Ph: (800) 444-7275. Open year-round. Jedediah Smith campground is located on Highway 199 at Hiouchi. 106 RV or tent sites, RV length up to 36 feet, trailers up to 31 feet. Facilities/amenities include nature center, bookstore, no hookups, showers, restrooms, river sites, picnic area, many miles of trails, hiker/biker sites, dump station, fire pits, handicap access, ranger-led walks, junior ranger and young naturalists programs, and evening campfire programs. There is a group site for 50. For site-specific information, call +1 707 464-6101 ext 5113.
- Gold Bluffs Beach Campground, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Open year round. Camp along the windswept Pacific Ocean with the coast redwood forest as a backdrop. To reach Gold Bluffs Beach campground travel three miles north of Orick on US Highway 101, the turn west on Davison Road and continue for four miles (gravel road). 25 RV or 29 tent sites, trailers prohibited, RV length up to 24 feet and 8 feet wide. Amenities include solar showers, restrooms, access to over 70 miles of trails, Fern Canyon, hiker/biker sites, fire pits, no hookups, ranger-led walks, junior ranger and evening campfire programs.
- Elk Prairie Campground, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, Ph: (800) 444-7275. Open year round. Elk Prairie campground is located 50 miles north of Eureka, CA on the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway just off US Highway 101. Sites: 75 RV or tents, trailer length up to 24 feet, RVs up to 27 feet. Facilities/amenities include nature center, bookstore, no hookups, showers, restrooms, picnic area, over 70 miles of trails, hiker/biker sites, dump station, fire pits, handicap access, ranger-led walks, junior ranger and evening campfire programs. For site-specific information, call +1 707 464-6101 ext 5301.