The Redwoods are one of the world's greatest wonders, and one of the biggest. The trees that make northern California so famous can grow taller than 360 feet, wider than 20 feet and live longer than 2,000 years. Redwood National Park is home to multiple environments, and includes beautiful coastline and intertidal zones, lush forest, many rivers and even prairie.
Redwood trees (Sequoia sempervirens) thrive in the foggy coastal area of the Pacific Northwest. For such a large tree, the pinecone of a Redwood is relatively small, only about the size of a grape, but the moist climate ensures its longevity. According to the National Park Service, there are fossil records which show that relatives of these trees existed more than 160 million years ago. The trees also have a great natural defense against disease and insects--a high tannin content.
There are three campgrounds in the woodland areas of the park and one on the coast. There are also designated camping areas in the backcountry for those who wish to travel through the park on foot. Permits must be obtained in some situations and day-use fees apply in the State Parks.
The park is more than just Redwoods, of course. There are many other species of plants and animals including Sitka spruce, Douglas fir and hundreds of wildflower species. The park is also home to Marbled Murrlets, an endangered species. This bird flies inland to makes its nest in the canopy of the park. Black bears, elk, mountain lions, bald eagles, great blue herons and gray whales are just a few more of the amazing animals that live in the area.
The climate among such large, ancient trees is a cool, temperate one. The air temperature rarely fluctuates beyond 40 and 60 degrees F, and there is often lots of fog in the forest which contributes significantly to the moisture the trees need.
Just southwest of the park is a junction of three major tectonic plates, which means that the area is prone to lots of seismic activity or earthquakes. The coastline of the area is also a tsunami hazard zone.
There are dozens of trails (200 miles, in fact) both on the coastline and inland to explore in the lush forest of Redwoods. In some areas, horses and bikes are allowed on the trails. Most of the trails can be hiked year-round, but it is advisable to stop at one of the five visitor centers throughout the park. Most are seasonal, but the Prairie Creek Visitor Center is open year-round. According to the National Park Service, the Redwood Creek and Trestle Trails may be extremely difficult in winter.