National Parks

<p>See Majestic Photos of the Tallest Trees on Earth</p>

Photograph by Emily Polar
Woman in red pants standing below huge old growth redwood trees along the road through the Women's Club Grove, Northern California.

Stretching along California’s North Coast, the largest surviving block of old-growth redwood forest on Earth juts into the sky.

California's coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) can grow more than 300 feet tall and live upwards of 2,000 years. They owe their mammoth size and long lives to polyphenol-rich bark and heartwood, which makes them resistant to bugs and harmful fungi. The coastal climate also creates a thick veil of fog over the forest, providing a constant source of moisture and fire resistance.

One of California’s first redwood parks, Richardson Grove State Park was established in 1922. The park is home to coast redwoods that tower more than 300 feet tall, and a national river where visitors can swim and catch-and-release fish.

The setting sun bathes Humboldt Redwoods State Park in golden light. One-third of the park (about 17,000 acres) is old-growth redwood forest—the largest expanse of ancient redwoods left on the planet.

Initials, dates, and symbols are carved into the bark of a fallen redwood.

The California Federation of Women's Club Grove is located on the Avenue of the Giants, a scenic stretch of highway in Northern California that runs through Humboldt Redwoods State Park.

The Usal Redwood Forest extends 50,000-acres off the California coastline. The mix of redwoods, Douglas firs, oak woodlands, and streams are teeming with wildlife.

A full moon rises above the Eel River in Humboldt Redwood State Park. The 2,600-acre Eel River Wildlife Area is home to a diverse array of flora and fauna, including salt marsh, pasture, and wet meadow.

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In 1848 the United States took control of California, and discovered gold soon after. Thousands flooded the state looking for riches, and the logging industry capitalized on the population boom by harnessing "sequoia gold” to build homes and infrastructure.

In the 1920s the Save the Redwoods League began acquiring and preserving groves, in 1968 Redwood National Park was established, and in 1980 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. After more than a century of continuous exploitation, however, the remaining old-growth forest represents less than five percent of the original two million acres.

Redwoods National Forest

Despite their protected status, threats to survival continue to evolve. According to the Save the Redwoods League, “The redwoods—Earth's ancient giants—stand at a new crossroads of environmental change where urbanization, habitat fragmentation, pollution, invasive species and climatic changes threaten them in ways they have not yet experienced in their long history on Earth.” 

Historically, the Eel River Wildlife Area was used for dairy farming and cattle ranching. Today it is a protected area, home to raptors, tundra swans, waterfowl, fox, deer, and river otters.

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