April 21, 2012

Avenue of the Giants

In a state loaded with scenic drives, there was one more along the coast of northern California that has been on our list of “must-sees.”  Aptly named the Avenue of the Giants, this drive is a spectacular, thirty-two mile byway that winds its way through ancient redwood groves.  The drive travels through Humboldt Redwoods State Park, which preserves the largest contiguous old-growth redwood forest in the world.

It was dark in the forest, and the treetop canopy formed a vertical tunnel through which we drove.  It was so peaceful here, made even more so by the fact that we were one of the few vehicles on the road today.  We passed by numerous groves that were dedicated to groups or individuals who made donations to protect these trees.  Since 1918, the Save-the-Redwoods League has labored to protect this forest through the purchase of redwood groves from willing sellers.  The League then deeds the land to state or federal agencies for park use.

Avenue of the Giants
Marker Honoring Contributors
We got out at several of the numerous pullouts so we could walk among the trees and admire their majesty.  How insignificant we felt among these giants.  The air was cool and the ground was damp, and the dense mat of needles covering the ground muffled our footsteps.  Our eyes were constantly drawn upward, and Tim compared the view through the canopy to a kaleidoscope.  

Tim Is Dwarfed by the Redwoods
Even the RV Is Tiny Against these Giants
A Marvelous Kaleidoscope

The coast redwoods are related to the sequoias that we visited in Yosemite National Park two weeks ago.  The sequoias grow in small pockets of the Sierra Nevada range and are much larger in circumference, but shorter, than the redwoods.  The redwoods are the tallest trees on earth and thrive in the moist, warmer climate along the Pacific coast.

After leaving the redwood forest, we continued on our northward journey, but made a small detour to the beautiful Victorian town of Ferndale.  Ferndale is a little ways off the highway, and still a bit of a secret, but it is well worth visiting.  We couldn’t help comparing Ferndale to Mendocino, both of which contain fanciful collections of well-preserved Victorian architecture.  Mendocino is located directly on the Pacific, while Ferndale is somewhat inland.  Both have exuberant displays of flowers.

What Tim and I especially liked about Ferndale was the selection of paint colors on many of the buildings.  Many houses sported a dozen or so colors, but none of the combinations were gaudy.  The colors carefully brought out the architectural details of the buildings.  Ferndale was quaint and charming, and it was evident that the residents are proud of their town.

Beautiful Colors
Quaint Victorian Cottages
Charming Houses
Exhuberant Commercial Buildings
Carpenter Gothic Gingerbread Trim
Queen Anne Turret


  1. Boy, if a tree falls in that forest I bet someone somewhere hears it! :-) LV

    1. LV, You do have a point! Can you just imagine the sound that would make? Sarah

  2. The trees are giant. What a great sight.

    1. It was very special to be able to see such spectacular trees. Sarah