Exploring the Eel River Valley

The Redwood Forest


You've seen one redwood, you've seen 'em all, right?

How many times, really, can you wander through a patch of redwoods and be silenced by the sheer beauty of these 2,500-year-old things? How many times does staring at a tree that was around when the Romans ruled the world make your life seem irrelevant? How many times can you be flat-out amazed by the sheer tenacity of redwoods to survive for 25 centuries?

Every time, actually, if you have any soul at all, because redwoods in California are, in fact, a big deal.

Seen one redwood, seen 'em all, right?

Get a life. Hug a tree. Get a crick in your neck. Be humbled.

Zeke Wigglesworth, Mercury News

QUEST on KQED Public Media.

Not Just Redwoods

Giant Redwood Trees of Northern California.

Inside a Grove of Giant Redwood Trees on the Avenue of the Giants.  Photo courtesy of Jon Von Neumann.

Most people think redwood forests are made up entirely of redwoods. But they're not. A healthy old-growth redwood forest is a grand mix of redwoods, deciduous trees, ferns, vines, flowers and wildlife.

Giant redwoods are so big and tall, so dense, and so crowded in the canopy, that some ground areas get virtually no sunlight, and little grows beneath these skyscrapers of the forest.

But wherever a tree has fallen, it leaves a gaping hole; where rivers and streams cut swaths through the forest they lay the edges of the forest open; where the forests edge up against natural meadows the peripheries are a mix of shadows and sunlight.

Wherever light-giving sunlight streams through to the ground, other fast-growing trees quickly grow up: big leaf maples, alders, poplar, pacific yews, tan oaks, and a whole host of ferns, ivies, spring and fall wildflowers spring up for their day in the sun, until a new redwood grows up and takes its place re-filling the canopy.

That's why the redwood country surprises and delights the newcomer in the spring and fall. The spring wildflowers surprise and delight you. The fall colors surprise and astonish you. Courtesy of Gene Barnett.      Continued.

NEXT: The Avenue of the Giants


The Redwoods


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Redwood Facts

In the Age of the Dinosaurs, redwood species were dominant over much of the Northern Hemisphere, including what is now the Arctic. The climate was then humid and mild over a much larger region than today. Over millennia, climate change reduced redwood habitat.
The abundant moisture and moderate temperatures of coastal northern California and extreme southern Oregon allow the redwood to flourish... more