Did you know that some of the oldest and biggest trees on the planet can be found in the northwest of the United States?
In this post, you’ll discover the ultimate list of Redwood National Park facts, an amazing collection of fascinating forests!
1. Redwood National Park is a collection of National and State Parks
The RNSP (Redwood National and State Parks) are a collection of parks located along the coast of Northern California in the northwest of the United States. They cover an area of 138,999 acres (562.51 square kilometers) in Humboldt County and Del Norte County.
They consist of 4 different National and State Parks including:
- Redwood National Park
- Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park
- Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
- Prairie Creek Redwoods State Parks
These parks were merged in 1994 by The National Park Service (NPS) and the California Department of Parks and Recreation (CDPR) and are operated from headquarters in Crescent City.
2. The forest used to cover a vast area of the Californian coast
One of the most remarkable Redwood National Park facts is that the area the forest covered in 1850 consisted of about 2,000,000 acres (8,100 square kilometers).
After thousands of people crossed the Black Rock Desert in Nevada to settle in California, the forests became prone to logging. Especially when the gold rush didn’t bring the expected riches and cutting the massive trees became the only way to make a living.
3. Preservation only succeeded when nearly 90% of the forest was cut
With logging going on for multiple decades without restrictions, things weren’t looking so good for the redwood trees in the early 20th century. That’s why the “Save the Redwoods League” was founded in 1918, an organization established to help preserve the old-growth redwoods in the area.
It’s because of this organization that 3 of the 4 parks were established and preservation of the forest started taking effect. Unfortunately, only just over 10% of the original old-growth forest remained by this time.
4. The redwood trees were sacred to various native American tribes
In the centuries before the gold rush and the logging, the forests on the coast of Northern California were inhabited by numerous Native American tribes. Some of these were:
Archaeological evidence has uncovered that the area was inhabited as long as 3,000 years ago and some of these people still live in the forests today.
While they also indulged in logging to build houses and boats and other materials, they had a much closer relationship to the redwood trees than the “invaders” who cut the forest in the 19th century because they couldn’t find any gold.
It went as far as the tribes being described as “people from within the redwood tree,” meaning they see the trees are being sacred.
5. A large area of the forest consists of old-growth forest
Of the 138,999 acres (562.51 square kilometers) area that the park covers, about 38,982 acres (157.75 square kilometers) consists of so-called “old-growth forest.”
This type of forest is also referred to as “primary forest” or “virgin forest” because it’s a type of forest that was able to grow without any significant disturbance for extended periods of time.
It’s estimated that redwood trees have existed along the coast of California for 20 million years and have diverged from tree species that existed in this location over 160 million years ago!
These are quite staggering numbers and help you understand why we must do whatever we can to protect this magical place, don’t you think?
6. The forest contains the tallest tree species in the world
The tallest tree species in the world is the “coast redwood” and is native to the area of the Redwood National and State Park. This tree, known as the “Sequoia sempervirens,” can be found near the northern California coast all the way through to the southern Oregon Coast.
These trees are really huge and can are considered to be the tallest species of trees in the world!
7. The tallest tree in the world is called “Hyperion” and is really enormous
Up until the year 2006, a tree referred to as the “Stratosphere Giant” was considered to be the tallest tree in the world with a height of 371.1 feet (113.11 meters).
That year, an even higher tree was discovered at the Redwood National Park which stands 115.85 meters (380.1 feet) tall, making it the tallest tree in the world at the moment!
The tree, which was dubbed the “Hyperion,” is believed to be between 600 and 800 years old as well!
8. Only 1 tree species has more volume than coast redwoods
Believe it or not but the coastal redwood isn’t the largest tree in terms of volume. The “giant sequoia” or “Sequoiadendron giganteum” beats it in terms of volume!
The “General Sherman” is the largest tree in the world by trunk volume with a volume of 52,500 cubic feet (1,487 cubic meters) and a diameter of 25 feet (7.7 meters). The largest coastal redwood by volume is the “Lost Monarch” which has a volume of 42,500 cubic feet (1,205 cubic meters) and a diameter of 26 feet (7.92 meters).
9. Some trees at the Redwood National Park are nearly 2,000 years old
While most redwoods live on average between 500 and 700 years, these trees can live several millennia as well.
Some trees have been recorded to be over 2,000 years old, making them some of the oldest living organisms on the planet!
10. The National Park is home to multiple endangered species
Apart from being home to some of the tallest and oldest trees in the world, the old-growth forest is also important for several animal species. Some of these species are endangered making it extra important that the forest is protected.
Some of these endangered species include:
- Beach Layia (Layia carnosa)
- Coho and Chinook Salmon and Steelhead (Oncorhynchus kisutch, O. tshawytscha, and O. mykiss)
- Marbled Murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus)
- Western Snowy Plover (Charadrius nivosus nivosus)
- Northern Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis caurina)
- Steller sea lion (Eumatopias jubatus)
- Fisher (Pekania pennanti)
11. Some very dangerous mammals live in the RNSP as well
There are over 40 different types of mammals living in the forest as well, including beaver, river otter, black-tailed deer, and Roosevelt elk. The latter is the most spotted of all.
If you ever plan to visit the parks, make sure not to get lost because it’s also home to some extremely dangerous animals, including black bears, mountain lions, coyotes, and bobcats.
12. The RNSP is one of the most dangerous areas in the U.S. for earthquakes
One of the scariest Redwood National Park facts is that it’s located in the most active seismological region in the United States. This is because 3 tectonic plates called the North American Pacific, and Gorda Plates meet in a location called the Mendocino Triple Junction, just 100 miles (160 kilometers) to the southwest of the parks.
This means that the area is plagued with numerous minor earthquakes every year, resulting in landslides and shifting of the landscape. There’s also always a possibility of a major earthquake and multiple earthquakes with a magnitude of over 6 happen every decade!
13. The summer fog is very important for the trees
The temperature in the forest is on average between 40 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit (4–15 °C) throughout the year. The further from the coast, the hotter the summers, and the drier the area becomes.
The precipitation is between 25 and 122 inches (64 and 310 centimeters) annually but that’s not the most important part to keep the trees hydrated. The summer fog, which can be very thick and persistent, is the most important for the health of the trees.
The fog both provides for both additional water and serves as a cooling system for the trees during the summer!
14. The forest is set on fire now and then to keep it healthy
One of the most peculiar Redwood National Park facts is that wildfires are actually a good thing for the forest. The reason is that they remove decayed plant and tree matter, eliminate the competition for limited nutrients for the massive trees, and enrich the soil at the same time.
That’s why the park administration often conducts so-called “prescribed fires,” a fire that is intentionally set off to keep the forest healthy.
Pretty amazing, don’t you think?
15. The parks were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Nearly half a million people visit the park every year to walk, hike, ride horses, kayak, or fish. Even though the forest has 3 visitor centers where information about these activities can be obtained, there aren’t any hotels or motels within the borders of the park.
Because the Redwood National and State Parks contain such a rich ecosystem and possess such a rich cultural history, they were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the year 1980 and became part of the California Coast Ranges International Biosphere Reserve on June 30, 1983.