One of the best places to start out your visit to Redwoods National Park is to stop at one of the visitor centers. Its five visitor centers are spaced through out the park, so hopefully you will be able to stop at one or more of these if you visit during summers. However, in the winter, some of these are not open, and others are open only on some days. The friendly and knowledgeable staff will be able to answer questions to help you out with your visit to the park. You may also pick up maps and other publications that will help you to get the most out of your stay in the park. This is also a good place to find out about possible programs or special events that may be going on during your stay. For information on the individual vistor centers, or any other information visit www.nps.gov/redw, or write to:
Redwood National and State Parks
1111 Second Street
Crescent City, California 95531
For additional visitor information, you may call (707) 464-6101
Fondest memory: It is the tall redwood trees that make this park so unique, along with the lush fern and moss environments. One of the things we learned at a visitor center is that these trees are so hardy, that even fire does not seem to destroy them. We saw a number of trees in the park that had huge areas burned out of the base of the trees, and yet, they were green and healthy. In the photo with this tip, the tree on the right has a large area damaged by fire.
Favorite thing: Redwood National Park consists of five distinct areas and is co-located with three state parks. The state and the National Park Service manages the entire area cooperatively so you may see state or national level rangers in any area at any time. The parks protect over 40,000 acres of old growth trees. The Coastal Redwood is the tallest living thing in the world growing up to 370 feet tall. They are also amongst the oldest living things living up to 2000 years. Redwood National Park includes a very wide variety of terrain ranging from mountains over 3000 feet tall; vast woodlands; rocky beaches backed by sea cliffs in the north and serene, sandy beaches backed by bluffs in the south; and even includes a little of the area offshore. This diverse area offers a wide variety of plant and animal life.
As you hike the woods of Redwood National and State Parks, watch for the large, Pacific banana slug. This is the second largest species of slugs in the world, and may grow up to 9.8 inches in length. (25 cm). They are a beautiful yellow in color, with soft bodies, and one muscular foot to help them to move slowly about. They have two tentacles, the largest pair at the top of their head is used to detect light. The second pair is located at the lower front of their body and is used like a nose, picking up chemical smells. Both of these can telescope in and out so that they can protect their tentacles as they move around. The banana slug has a thick coating of mucus around their bodies, giving them the slimy feel. I would not recommend picking one up. Not only could you harm the slug, but it is very difficult to remove this slime from your hands. The slime is a protective coating that keeps the slugs from drying out, as well as protecting them as they move over sharp edges, and lubricating their path as they move along. If they are climbing a tree, it is this slime that will allow them to slide quickly down if they are threatened. It also attracts other slugs for mating. These slugs add to the health of the forest, as they help with decomposition. They eat leaves, and other plant material, as well as animal droppings. These are then recycled back into the soil. When they eat mushrooms, they help to spread the spores and seeds of the mushroom.
Banana slugs are sometimes eaten by other Redwood dwellers. Raccoons, garter snakes, salamanders, geese, and ducks will sometimes eat bannana slugs. But they are so slimy, I was surprised to hear this! What I learned is, creatures that eat the slugs roll them in the dirt to lessen the slime before eating them.
Fondest memory: We found this slug, with its striking yellow color very interesting. So take time to look for one of these fascinating one-footed invertebrates as you walk the forest. Watch them, but do not harm them, remember, they have an important role as a forest floor decomposer. So take a photo, enjoy watching them, then walk on, leaving them to do their job as recyclers.
When I first heard about skunk cabbage, I was told that these broad leaf plants were really stinky, with a skunk-like order, especially when in bloom. But I could barely smell the odor unless I put my nose right down to the opening in the flower. Maybe if I had been visiting a marsh where there were a large number of these, the odor would have been more noticeable, but there were only small patches in the area where I saw them. It is this skunky odor, for which the plant gets its name that draws pollinators to the plant.
Found in wet areas, the leaves are the largest of any other native plant in this part of California. We were in Redwoods in late March, and we saw many of these in bloom. A fact that I found very interesting is that the plant produces its own heat, causing winter snows to melt around it, allowing it to become one of the earliest blooming flowers in the area. The roots of this plant also provide food for bears that eat them after they wake up from hibernation.
Fondest memory: I loved this plant! Both the color and shape of these interesting, yellow blooms are striking. And remember, despite the name, I didn’t find them really so stinky.
Giant Redwoods have a shallow root structure . They can topple over under high winds .
If you bought redwood seeds and they did not sprout after one year it is probably good.
Somehow a giant redwood growing in a city might prove to be a safety issue.