Today we got up close and personal with the tallest trees on earth in the Redwood National & State Parks. Until you stand next to a Redwood, you have no idea what a big tree is. As a bonus, we spotted some whales at an overlook near the end of today's drive.
We had a nice, sunny day so we drove down into northern California and the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. Based on a little research, we headed to the secluded but revered Stout Grove.
We drove South on 101 to Hwy 197 where we started seeing some of the huge redwoods. Then we drove north on Hwy 199, where we turned right across a bridge over Smith River.
After a few more turns and bridge crossings, the pavement ended and we were on the northern end of the the scenic Howland Hill Road, a single-lane gravel road through the majestic trees. Eventually, we came to a side spur leading to the Stout Grove parking area.
Stout Grove is one of the most recommended "short walks" in the jointly run Redwoods National Park & California Redwood Parks complex which covers multiple locations near the northern California coast.
There is a half-mile loop trail through the grove.
It didn't take long for us to start taking photos of one of us next to the trees. Without something to compare them to, it's hard to appreciate their mass in photos.
These Coast Redwoods are the tallest trees in the world reaching heights up to 370 feet. The trees in this grove aren't the tallest of the species, but they are still magnificent.
The Coast Redwood's cousin, the Giant Sequoia (found in central California), while not as tall, are the most massive living things on earth. We'll see a few of those as we get farther south.
Here's Linda standing amongst some of the giants.
This is my favorite photo for perspective.
The sunlight beams through the trees is a reason many come to this cathedral of nature.
Eventually, you run out of superlatives when describing redwoods, and all the other trees that once seemed large now look very ordinary.
We completed the loop and decided to finish the drive on Howland Hill Road. There are some potholes, but overall it's a pretty good backroad and it's certainly a pretty drive through the redwoods.
The road ended in Crescent City where we once again picked up Hwy 101 and continued south. We drove through Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park (many more redwoods along the highway) and along the coast down to Klamath.
On a whim, we took a right after seeing a sign for the Klamath River Overlook. It was a narrow, rough road that eventually led to a bluff where there was a parking area and picnic tables overlooking the ocean.
Walking over to the left, the view was of the mouth of the Klamath River. It was beautiful with pretty, contrasting colors between the river, the ocean, and the mountains.
There were others with binoculars, and they said there were whales right at the mouth of the river.
Eventually, we honed in on them.
Nice. A great view and whales.
We drove back out the way we came in and drove along the river until we crossed it.
We continued on and soon we were looking out over the mouth of the Klamath from the other side.
We drove on around the coastal drive loop until it brought us back to Hwy 101. By then it was getting late and we were low on fuel. So we headed back to our campground across the border in Oregon.
What a wonderful day. The Redwoods are mind-boggling and an unexpected whale sighting just topped everything off.