Welcome to the planet Endor! Seriously, this place looks just like the planet from Star Wars that the Ewoks lived on! This might be my favorite National Park so far, not because I’m a big Star Wars fan but because I’m a huge tree lover. While I still like the Giant Sequoia trees, I am now in love with these forests filled with the tallest trees on the planet- the Redwoods and all ferns covering the ground. Everything is so green! A long walk through these forests might be better than long walks on the beach. Just saying, everyone should experience this.
What’s different about this National park is that it is co-managed with the state so we were able to get in free with the Every Kid in a Park pass at the state parks as well.
The following three California State Parks are co-managed within the Redwoods National SP system:Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park,Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. We visited the later two state parks. Along with earning the National Park Junior ranger badge, the girls were able to earn special state park patches.
Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park is the setting for one of the best Star Wars movies ever made. This area provided the land of Endor backdrop where rebels and Ewoks fought the evil Empire in Star Wars:Return of the Jedi.
We didn’t meet any Ewoks while we were here but the girls did set up some Star Wars scenes, with their Tsum Tsum’s, at the filming location of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.
The Hiouchi Visitor Center is on Hwy 199. We loved the education film here and had fun creating sentences. The three skulls left to right are: cougar, bear, and Elk. This plaque pictured below is just an example of the many that we saw throughout the Redwood Groves.
Here’s some fun scene the girls recreated.
We also took a hike near the campgrounds that ran along the Smith River. Smith River is one of the largest Wild and Scenic River Systems in the US. This specular river is in the middle of Smith River NRA. The water is emerald in color and so clear!
Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park has a trail that takes you to Fern Canyon, which is the is the setting for Jurassic Park: The Lost World and BBC’s Walking with Dinosaurs. You can either hike from the visitors center on the James Irvine Trail or you can drive to Gold Bluff Beach and walk from there.
Check out our video from our hike to Fern Canyon and back along the beach to Gold Bluff Beach.
That Fern Canyon trail and the beach are about 30 minutes drive from their visitors center.
There is also a nice open meadow and trail head that we passed on the way to Fern Canyon. The meadow is called Elk Meadow and the trail is called Trillium Falls, after the Trillium plant that grows in these forests. This trail is filled with old growth Redwoods and has a wonderful waterfall.
Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park also has a great hiking trail called Prairie Creek Trail that takes you to one the tallest trees in the world and Elk prairie is right across from their visitors center parking lot.
Here is a video of a few trails we took while visiting this region.
The Redwood Trees are really amazing! They are the tallest trees in the world. They can reach the height of 379 feet.
While each tree can produce 100,000 seeds annually, the germination rate is very low. Most redwoods grow more successfully from sprouts that form around the base of a tree, utilizing the nutrients and root system of a mature tree. The tree does this when it faces stress. When the parent tree dies, a new generation of trees rise, creating a circle of trees that are often called fairy rings.
They grow well here on the coast because they absorb water from the coastal fogs because this region doesn’t see rain fall from May through October. They are just like their cousin the Sequoia in that their bark can withstand fire, disease and drought.
A Disguised World War II radar station
The Klamath River Radar Station B-71 in Redwood National Park, California, is a rare, surviving World War II early-warning radar station. Rather than using camouflage materials, the buildings of Station B-71 were constructed, in 1942, to resemble a farm to disguise the equipment. The station consisted of three buildings: a power building disguised as a farmhouse, an operations building disguised as a barn and a functional wood frame two-stall outhouse. The radar station was the northernmost California station out of 65 stretching from the Canadian border into Mexico.
It was built as a result of the attack on Pearl Harbor. The threat was further demonstrated when a Japanese submarine shot at an oil refinery north of Santa Barbara, California, on February 23, 1942; Esteven Point in British Columbia, Canada, on June 20, 1942, and again at Fort Stevens, Washington, on July 21, 1942. On September 9, 1942, a Japanese submarine-launched aircraft dropped incendiary bombs on Oregon forests roughly 40 miles north of the Klamath River.
It is on the National Register of Historic Places.
When visiting the Redwoods Forest we have been searching for the infamous Banana slug but hadn’t spotted one until we visited the WWII radar station. I was so excited to find one, I was jumping up and down. Chris said he wished he would have videoed it 🙂
Banana slugs are important members of the redwood forest. They are covered with slime. This slime is essential to their survival. It is just like the mucus that coats your nose and lungs. Banana slug slime contains chemicals that numb the tongue of any animal that attempts to nibble it, they also use it for move along the rough forest floor and they use to absorb water from anything they touch.
If anyone can tell me what the tiny worm is in the video, I’d appreciate it.
We were staying in Klamath, CA near the drive through tree and right next to the WW II radar station. We had to drive north to Crescent City (the beach here is Crescent shaped) to get to Jedidiah Smith Park. This is a great little town. We drove up there on Monday to eat at a seafood restaurant , The Chart Room, that everyone was recommend we eat at. It was located on the pier near the lighthouse only to find out they are closed on Monday’s. We really wanted fresh Dungeness crab that had been caught that day on that pier but we had no luck finding another place open for dinner serving crab, can you believe it?
Battery Point Lighthouse, built in 1856, is 100 feet off shore and only assessable by foot during low tide. Guided tours are daily April- September. It is still an active lighthouse with a lighthouse keeper. It was not low tide when we were visiting.
On Pier B you can fish and crab; just need a license and equipment.
The day the girls and I drove up to Jedediah State Park past Crescent City was interesting. Crescent City is about 30 minutes north of Klamath were the RV and Chris were parked, Jedediah State Park is another 15 minutes north of CC. The girls and I went straight to the visitors center (which we normally do at all parks to get the maps, watch the film and find out the best trails to hike) as soon as they opened. We spent about 45 minutes there watching film, talking with park rangers and planning our day. We headed over to the Hiouchi Trail which was the closest trail to the visitors center and we wanted to see the Smith River. We parked and did our hike. We came back to the parking lot and tried to unlock the Jeep. It would not unlock with the key fob so I unlocked it with the key thinking the key fob battery must need replacing, even thought Jeep isn’t even a year old yet. Well as I tried starting the engine, I realized the key fob battery was not the issue, it was the Jeep battery. It wasn’t making a sound, no turn over, no lights, nothing. I thought it might be a bigger issue than the battery, perhaps the alternator. Now remember we were next to a river at a trail head in a park which means NO CELL SERVICE! AND it was during the week in the morning so not a busy place. Luckily, their was one car parked in the parking lot and there were people in it!! They had arrived while we were finishing our hike and had not started their hike yet because the woman was breast feeding her baby. As much as I didn’t want to interrupt that as I approached the vehicle and realized why they were sitting there, I really wanted their help trying to jump starting my battery. They were kind and moved their car over near mine and jumped it. YAY! I drove back to the visitor center since they have a land line to call Chris to tell him if it starts back up I am heading back into Crescent City to have it looked at. I had him look up places I could take it. I had a plan, I went back out to the Jeep and nope, it wouldn’t start. There was a couple walking into the visitor center so I asked them to jump start my car. They too were kind and moved over to the spot next to ours and hooked us up with a charge. I drove into town to the Auto Zone. They came out and checked the battery and alternator and they checked out to be working perfectly. WHAT?!?! The gal didn’t know what to tell me. She went in to get the manager and you know what he asked me? He where I was from…. I said Georgia. He asked if I had just driven from there or where I had just driven from. Well you know that ‘s a long story so I gave him the shortened version. He explained that this can happen if you go from big elevation changes along with big humidity changes. That’s a new one folks. But guess what, he must have been right because it started right up and I decided I wasn’t going to let it ruin my plans to explore Jedediah so we head back up to the park. I just parked next to people and went on well trafficked trails. The first one we went to after our Auto Zone stop, we ran into the second couple that helped us. I told the guy what Auto Zone told me and he was as confused as I was, “Never heard that one,” he said. Have any of you heard that before?
The Klamath River
Klamath River is a beautiful river known for its salmon fishing. We stayed on this river. They had a horrible flood in December 1964 that they call the Christmas flood that washed out this bridge and did major damage.
The Klamath River runs out into the Pacific Ocean.
Kamp Klamath RV park
1661 West Klamath Beach Road Klamath, CA 95548. 707-482-0227. Site #11.
Our RV has been too big to fit in any other the national parks so far. The NPS was established before people were camping in 43 foot motorhomes so most don’t have sites larger than 35 feet. However, in the Redwoods National Park, there are sections that are privately owned and the campground we chose can accommodate our size rig. We were excited to be so close to trails, rivers and the ocean, without even having to drive anywhere.
We only had 30 amps, which was the first time we tried this. Normally we are placed in a 50 amp site but after setting up and finding only 30 amps I inquired about the 50 amp site I was expecting and was told that I had to request that at the time of booking. Live and learn. It turns out because we don’t need to run our air conditioning we managed just fine. Since we are used to doing multiple things at once we did trip the breakers a few times until we realized what we could and couldn’t do at the same time. No hair drying while cooking dinner or drying clothes:)
Big Foot Trail to Klamath river
Apparently, this is Big Foot County. There are these Sasquach warning signs everywhere in this northwest region of California. We went on a hike to find a big foot trap that the RV Park manger told us about.
This site was also a filming location for The Last of the Mohicans and Dead Man.
The RV park had converted an old camper into a chicken coop. We loved getting our fresh eggs right from the coop daily. Farm to table eggs.
Drive-Thru Tree off Terwer Valley Exit off 101. It’s a 800 year old tree you can drive through for $5 per vehicle. There are three drive through Redwood trees. This is the northern most one. There others are also off 101 south of here.
There wasn’t anyone at the booth so we just left the $5 in the mail slot. We drove through several times, so we could each do the actual driving (yes, even the girls did it) and so we could take pictures and video. It was so fun.
Trees of Mystery
End of the Trail Native American Museum is a Free museum in the gift shop. You do not have to buy the $18 tickets to walk on the trail and take the sky gondola in order to take pictures outside with Paul Bunyan and the Blue Ox or to go inside the gift shop and walk around the museum. It really is a fantastic museum.