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 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.
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.
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. Add to it all seals and sea lions, the historic Cape Mendocino Lighthouse, fishing, kayaking, and forest bathing experiences—it makes for a classic North Coast getaway.
Plan time now to explore historic and impressive Humboldt Redwoods State Park.