The Avenue of the Giants – December 2016

As soon as we decided that this was going to be a great USA/Canada road trip I knew that we would be driving a little out of our way at to explore natural wonders that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

On the 14 December 2016 we drove from San Francisco along the 101 to Crescent City via the Avenue of the Giants, about 600km in total.  The avenue exits off the 101 north of Gabersville and winds under and around the 101 highway for 50km.  This scenic road is the historic route of the 101 Hwy.  I have left all of the pictures in this post full sized as it is the only way to even get close to the magnificence of these trees.  If you would like to have a look this is the official Tourist Map and Website for the Avenue of the Giants.

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We left San Francisco later than planned, just before midday, and as we drove north on the 101 the weather deteriorated. The clouds closed in and it started raining fat and heavy rain. Visibility on the road was okay but we lost any views towards the coastline.  We discovered when we checked into our accommodation that night that it had been rather extreme weather conditions for this part of California.

About 4 hours north of San Francisco we were suddenly in the redwoods.  These giant trees are the tallest trees in the world and are only native in specific climatic conditions along specific longitudes.  All of a sudden you notice more and more of them lining the road.

While it was only mid afternoon the light was fading.  We saw a sign to the Chandelier Drive Through Tree and decided to stop even though we had not officially reached the Avenue of the Giants yet.  Access to the park was $5 however because of the extreme weather conditions the gift shop was not open.  On the flip side it meant that there were very few people there.

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This tree is truly spectacular!  We were driving a Dodge Journey and for a little while we were doubtful that we would actually fit.  The attendant at the gate advised us to fold the  side mirrors in and we inched out way through.  Unfortunately when we were in the tree we realised that we were also in the car…  there was no one on the outside to take the photo.  To watch an entirely unedited video of us driving through the tree check out our YouTube channel above or click here.

Once the obligatory tree photos were taken we donned our waterproof jackets and went exploring in the forest.

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Xander and Sienna pretending to be hibernating bears

I don’t have the words to describe the experience of wandering alone through this ancient forest with the clouds hanging low and the sound of the rain, birds and insects the only noise that you can hear.

Back down near the car park and gift shop I found this sign that bought tears to my eyes.

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In amongst the magnificence of these giants there are elements of whimsy with beautiful carvings made out of the stumps of fallen redwoods.

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The rain was getting heavier and the sky was getting darker.  We decided to move on so that we would still have the time to drive along the Avenue of the Giants further up the road.

We entered the Avenue of the Giants at Myers Flat and followed the historic highway up to Redcrest.  We had high hopes of stopping in the heart of the redwoods and seeing the Giant Tree with a 53′ circumference but the weather was worsening and we had to satisfy ourselves with what we could see from the road.

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As darkness fell  we were still amongst these giants.  The road to Crescent City in these weather conditions took concentration and we were surprised to glimpse these signs on the side of the highway.  It took a while to get a clear photo in the rain and gloom.

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Tsunami warning signs are not something you see often!

We pulled into our Air BnB accommodation at Crescent city at about 7:30pm.  It had been a huge drive in sometimes challenging conditions but well worth effort it took.  Of course it would have been a completely different drive in fair weather conditions but i think the heavy clouds and rain in this ancient forest added to our experience and memories.

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