Visiting the Avenue of the Giants and the Redwood National & State Parks
Day 6 of our West Coast Road Trip – Crescent City to Santa Rosa
An early start but it would be worth it, it was time to visit the Redwood National Park in Northern California. We had our first diner chain breakfast at Denny’s in Crescent City before setting off for the Avenue of the Giants. I had the Strawberries & Cream Pancake Breakfast. This is some breakfast, it comes with two pancakes, strawberries and cream as well as eggs, sausage and hashbrowns. I asked if I could just have the pancakes which was fine and plenty for breakfast. Richard had the French Toast Slam which was two slices of thick french toast with eggs, bacon and sausage.
We spent longer in Crescent City than planned but were on the road by 09:45. Our first stop was Trinidad which we had heard was a great stop but we weren’t impressed at all, really not much there. We carried on until we came across Paul Bunyan and Babe at the Tree of Mystery which a couple at the restaurant last night had told us about. There are a few attractions at the Tree of Mystery but we didn’t spend much time here just enough for a photo with Paul and Babe who are enormous!
Driving the Avenue of the Giants
Between Crescent City and Santa Rosa the main attraction for us was the Avenue of the Giants, which is a scenic byway off highway 101. You can’t imagine how big these trees are until you have seen them in person. We thought after visiting the Hoh Rainforest and seeing how big the trees are there surely the redwoods would be similar. They aren’t at all, and it’s difficult to describe just how big they are, hopefully our photos help a bit.
The trees are so big you can drive through them
Our first stop on the Avenue of the Giants was the Immortal Tree. There are toilets there, a gift shop and of course a huge tree! After this we stopped at the Eternal Tree House which is free to enter. The tree house is made out of a hollowed out base of a tree trunk and it’s bigger than our kitchen.
It’s a slow drive along the Avenue of the Giants, not necessarily due to speed limits but because you want to take it all in. I’d highly recommend driving it in a convertible as it seemed a lot more immersive not having a roof, especially when you’re wanting to look up so much.
Drive Through Trees
The trees are so big you can drive through them and there are two locations you can pay to do this on the Avenue of the Giants. The first one we came to I drove through, the Shrine Drive Through Tree, it’s very tight! You pay $6 to drive through this tree and there was no queue when we got there.
There are limited stops for food on this route but we did find a good one in Miranda called the Avenue Cafe. Their menu is a typical cafe menu, we had sandwiches, they were good quality and a good price.
After lunch Richard took over the driving and drove through the next drive through tree we came to, the Chandelier Drive Through Tree at Leggett. This one seems in much better condition than the Shrine Tree and is $5 to drive through, there was a queue for this one. We had seen nothing like this. We were still in awe of the trees so I filmed Richard driving through while sitting in the passenger seat – this got some funny looks from the others in the queue! Again the drive through is very tight, you can see scratches where others haven’t quite managed to make it through cleanly.
It was a long drive after Leggett coming off the Avenue of the Giants back onto highway 101 to continue to Santa Rosa and it was pretty uneventful. It did get hotter the further south we got though with a high of 101F for the day. So hot we actually had to put the roof back up and put the AC on!
Santa Rosa may not seem like an obvious choice for a stop but we thought it was the perfect stop for us. The aim was to have a long driving day to get closer to San Francisco, our next stop. Rather than continue into San Francisco on this day we chose to stop an hour or so north. We also found out that Guy Fieri’s original restaurant Johnny Garlic’s is in Santa Rosa (closed soon after our trip unfortunately) and we are big fans of Triple D and wanted to check it out.
Johnny Garlic’s was a great restaurant and the staff were really helpful and friendly. We were surprised how quiet it was, it has the feel of a sports bar and a good range of options on the menu. I had a margarita pizza which I wouldn’t normally order but it was the best I’d ever tasted and finished it all. Richard had the Chipotle Shrimp Penne and also tried the Ghost Chilli Cheese Grits with Shrimps. We don’t have grits in the UK so this was something we had never tried before. It’s difficult to compare them to anything else but they were quite tasty.
Our hotel for the night was the Hotel Azura, another motel style property. They had gone for a modern look inside this motel and the bed was really comfy. Our car was right outside our room which was handy for bringing bags in. No breakfast included with this one though but that seems to be common throughout the US, at least in the Western States we travelled through on this trip.
We were definitely getting the variety of experiences we wanted on this trip and we loved seeing what America has to offer.
Route for the Avenue of the Giants
This is the route for the Avenue of the Giants;