Redwood National Park Trip Report

I took a trip to Redwood National Park and the state parks in the same area from June 13 through June 16, 2005. This trip was a family vacation, but I managed to take a few photos along the way. I'll also make a few comments about possible future photo opportunities.

Lodging and General Information

We camped at the Mill Creek Campground in the Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park. I made reservations because I expected the campground to be quite full, but it wasn't. We had our choice of many campsites when we arrived around 6:00pm on Monday. Only one loop of the campground was open, and we ended up picking an RV spot even though we were tent camping because the tent sites were just too small for our 3 tent setup. If we do this again, I will definitely call the ranger ahead of time to be sure that any site I reserve will have room for multiple tents if needed.

We took two vehicles on this trip since there were seven people and a whole lot of gear to haul around. The first was our Saturn station wagon, and the second was a rented Kia Sedona minivan. We travelled from place to place on the coast solely in the minivan once we unpacked everything and set up camp. It worked great and gave us plenty of room for our day trips. It's a setup I would definitely use again.

Crescent City and Oregon Coast

The first full day was spent exploring the Crescent City area and the Oregon coast just across the California border. I didn't take any fine art pictures at all that day because of a late start, the bright sun, and a tsunami warning. However, I did glean some valuable information for the next trip to the coast.

We stopped at Harris Beach State Park, just north of Brookings, Oregon. There is a steep, paved trail down to the beach just past the park entrance. There is also a road that goes down a hill to a different part of the beach, which includes a tidal creek. The coastline in the park is beautiful and includes large rocks, tide pools, and sandy and pebbled beaches. There's a large rock with a trail right on the edge of the parking lot that provides some amazing views of the coastline.

We hiked down the trail just past the entrance and explored the tidepools for a while. I saw a lot of starfish, crabs, seaweed, and some other creatures that I didn't recognize. Then we hiked back to the car and drove to the beach at the end of the park road. This beach was beautiful, but the wind was blowing very hard, and sand was flying everywhere.

Once we got tired of being sand blasted, we drove back down to Crescent City. We had a picnic for supper, and then we drove over to the beach to find a place to watch the sunset. This is when things got interested. No sooner had we stepped out of the car than a siren started going off. We had no idea what was going on until a local resident told us that there had been a magnitude 7 earthquake about 100 miles offshore. The siren was a tsunami warning! This wouldn't have been a big deal except that one of our party was out walking to her aunt's house, and we didn't know exactly where she was. We drove around frantically looking for her. We located her just as the tsunami warning was lifted. She had found a couple of very nice strangers who helped her get in touch with us and drove her to meet us.

The sunset that night was beautiful. I didn't get to take pictures of it because of the insanity surrounding the tsunami warning, but I didn't care because I was just happy to be alive at that point. On a future trip, I'll probably try to photograph the Battery Point lighthouse around sunset and then photograph the sunset from just about anywhere north of that point. Harris Beach would also be an excellent place to capture the sunset on film.

Boy Scout Tree Trail

The next day, we hiked the Boy Scout Tree trail in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. The round trip hike is a little over seven miles, and most of it goes through old growth redwood forest. There is a fork near the end. The left fork goes to Fern Falls, and the right fork goes to the Boy Scout Tree, one of the largest trees in the area.

We took the Fern Falls fork, and I took some pictures of the falls. It was a sunny day, so I had to wait for the sun to get very low before I could get the lighting I wanted. Photographically, I think it would have been better to arrive much earlier in the day. That way, the sun wouldn't have risen far enough into the sky to illuminate parts of the waterfall yet.

On the hike back, I stopped again to photograph a redwood grove. The sun was nearly gone, so my exposure times were several minutes long. It was so still that not a leaf moved in the 15 minutes or so that I had my tripod set up. This is a fantastic hike for taking pictures of big trees. They are abundant. There is one section of the trail especially where I could have set up my camera just about anywhere, pointed it in just about any direction, and gotten a usable image. It was stunningly beautiful. I would have made more images, especially of details, but I wanted to make it back to the van before dark.

Trinity River

We drove back to Chico via highway 299, which goes from Eureka and through Redding, where we turned south. Much of the way, it parallels the Trinity River and the Trinity Alps. I didn't have time to photograph on the way back, but this area will definitely be the destination of a future trip. The river is pristine, although right next to the road for several miles, and the mountains are rugged. Best of all, there aren't a lot of people in the area because of the remoteness.