Issue Date: January 16, 2009
City: San Diego, CA
In 1828, famed mountain man Jedediah Smith became the first European to trek overland to California’s Pacific coast. In his journal he described “the noblest trees I have ever seen being 12 or 15 feet in diameter...tall and straight and handsome.” Smith had discovered the world’s largest living organisms, giant redwood trees that soar more than 30 stories into the sky and live for thousands of years.
Redwood forests are unique to the coastlines of California and Oregon. Heavy fog, rain and ideal temperatures allow the species to thrive, creating a lush paradise that supports a variety of flora and fauna. Thick vegetation and rugged terrain discouraged humans from traveling to the area until the California gold rush. Large hollowed-out redwood trees were named “goose pens” by early settlers, who used them to house poultry.
Extensive logging began to threaten the once-massive forests until the 1920s, when three areas were placed under the protection of the state of California. In 1968, Congress created the Redwood National Park adjacent to the California parks and reached an agreement to jointly manage the four-park system.
Today the heavily-canopied forests, rivers, and breathtaking Pacific coastline of the redwood forests offer a host of outdoor activities for visitors.