Yes, there are taller redwoods in California. But the soaring trees lining this stretch of U.S. 101 in Southern Humboldt County, 200 miles north of San Francisco, are plenty tall enough, creating a dramatic wall of enormous russet trunks rocketing skyward as you wind through the forest. Some of the Avenue of the Giants’ 32 miles (map) pass through the impressive stands protected within Humboldt Redwoods State Park, and you’ll be missing something special if you don’t take the time to explore it. Hike some of the hundreds of miles of fern-lined trails, cool off in the majestic Eel River—a federally protected Wild & Scenic waterway with idyllic swimming, fishing and paddling spots—and learn about these remarkable trees and their history in the informative museum. A nice bonus: There is no entrance fee.
Avenue of the Giants: More Things to Do
Aside from the park and the sheer beauty of the drive, there are other historic finds along the way, such as the lookalike cottages in the tiny town of Scotia, once a booming “company town” for the local lumber company. And there are a handful of gift shops with tables made out of redwood burls, and other folksy attractions that highlight Humboldt County’s allure. Order an espresso in the famous One-Log House (we know it’s famous because it says so right on its sign) and the privately owned (in other words, there’s a fee) Shrine Drive-Thru Tree. Add to the experience some seal and sea lion sightings, the historic Cape Mendocino Lighthouse, fishing, kayaking, and forest bathing, and you’ve got yourself a classic North Coast getaway.
Avenue of the Giants: Lodging and Camping
When it comes to finding a place to stay, there are charming places such as the Benbow Historic Inn, a magnificent Tudor-style hotel overlooking the Eel River just 10 minutes from the Avenue’s south entrance, and the Inn of the Lost Coast, perched on a dramatic cliffside a short walk from a black-sand beach. Camping is also an option, with campsites that offer RV hookups as well as cabins at Redcrest Resort, and around 250 traditional campsites are located in three different campgrounds just off the Avenue of the Giants: Albee Creek Campground, Burlington Campground, and Hidden Springs Campground.
Avenue of the Giants Marathon
Humboldt Redwoods State Park hosts two marathons within the first three weekends of May and October every year, necessitating the closing of a portion of the avenue for up to six hours. For dates and details, visit the Avenue of the Giants Marathon (spring) or the Humboldt Redwoods Marathon (autumn).
Best Time to Visit the Avenue of the Giants
If the timing of your visit is flexible, the sweet spot could be June—you’ll get sunnier weather just ahead of the July-August-September high season for tourism, and will avoid the rain and cooler temperatures of the other months.