Some of the largest original redwood forests in the world are preserved in Redwood National Park. The area is stretching along the coastline, the 58,000-acre (23,500-ha). The redwood national park includes several smaller state parks and can be discovered along a day-long drive. A two-day trip, though, allows time to walk away from the roads and experience the serenity of the stately groves, or spot one of the world’s last remaining herds of Roosevelt elk.
The Redwood National Park headquarters are in the Crescent City, just a few miles north of which lies the 9,200-acre (3,720-ha). Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, with the most breathtaking coastal redwoods. The park was named after the fur trapper Jedediah Smith, the first white man who walked across the United States, it has tremendous campground facilities.
South of Crescent City, the Trees of Mystery grove features unusual-looking fiberglass statues of the mythical lumberjack Paul Bunyan and his faithful ox, Babe. The park’s main attraction is the world’s tallest tree, a 368-ft (112-meters) enormous, standing in the Tall Trees Grove. Farther south is Big Lagoon, a freshwater lake stretching for 3 miles (5 kilometers), and two other estuaries.
Together, they form the Humboldt Lagoons, State Park. The headlands at Patrick’s Point State Park, at the southern end, are a good place to watch migrating gray whales in winter. The tallest tree on earth, the coniferous coastal redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) is exclusive to the northwest coast. It can live for more than 2,000 years and reach about the height of 350-360 ft (105 meters), with roots that grow up to 200 ft (60 meters) horizontally but only four to six feet (1–2 meters) deep.
Its fast growth and resistance to disease make it ideal for commercial use. By the 1920s, however, logging had destroyed 90 percent of the groves. The Save the Redwoods League was formed, buying land now under state park protection. Lumber firms still own some groves, and their future remains a foremost environmental issue, both locally and nationally.