Updates to Redwood National Park

(December 31, 1969)


The Virtual Guidebook to Redwood National and State Parks covers that magical far corner of California from Trinidad north to the Oregon border. It isn't just the national park (which is actually a composite of national and state park lands) as it includes Crescent City, several small towns, a number of state parks and some national forest.

This was one of the first areas that I set out to cover methodically, and hence has a large proportion of older panoramas (before 2000). These were shot on negative film and although the photographic quality is high, the scanning process did not produce true colors and sharp images. Maybe someday I will take the time to re-scan so I can produce first-rate panos, but my immediate plan is to re-photograph these areas whenever I have the opportunity. This is no real hardship, as I love visiting this area.

Starting at the northwest end (my usual way of ordering geographic contents) we come first to Crescent City - and a lot of old panoramas. These will stay until I can get back up there for rephotography. The older film-based panos are instantly recognizable by their smaller thumbnail images, and the absence of a fullscreen version.

The "Redwood National and State Parks" begin just outside Crescent City, with Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park on the Smith River. A major part of this park is on Mill Creek, which can be seen to advantage from the Howland Hill Road, an unpaved one-laner which has hardly changed since stage-coach days. The Boy Scout Tree Trail leads from this road through some of the most magnificent forest on earth, home to a number of world champion trees.

I have a lone pano from the Smith River Recreation Area - a favorite destination of mine in pre-panography days. I need to get back there to document the beautiful South Fork of the Smith River, the historic Kelsey Trail, and the unique geology and botany.

Del Norte Redwoods State Park spills down the high bluffs south of Crescent City. Hiking the Damnation Creek trail down to the coast here has been high on my "to do" list for years. More rephotography is needed at Klamath and the north end of Prairie Creek Park.

Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park is considered one of the crown jewels of the California state park system. Though I visit it almost every year I still don't have a good set of panoramas, partly because I am often with a class (see my blog comments on panography and the field class). But no excuses - I need to make it a high priority to photograph Elk Prairie and its resident elk, plus the amazing redwood forests.

Prairie Creek park spans from the sheltered valley of the creek across low ridges to the coast at Gold Bluffs Beach. The incomparable Fern Canyon is hidden here in the coastal bluffs.

For the second-ever World Wide Panorama event the theme was World Heritage, and Redwood National Park is a UNESCO listed world heritage site. I made a weekend trip and got some great photos. The one I used for the WWP site was taken on the Boy Scout Tree Trail as a full spherical image - but I didn't have time to create it as a cubic pano for the event. I have done so subsequently (standard size or fullscreen). This was also the trip where I captured one of my best panoramas ever (standard size or fullscreen), in the fog and huge ferns of the Lady Bird Johnson Grove.

My memories of Orick and Redwood Creek go back to high school, when I made one of my first solo trips to the newly created Redwood National Park. It was truly an adventure, including three days spent camping alone at the Tall Trees Grove. I repeated the hike a few years later with my sister and a group of college friends - by that time intensive logging was taking place all around the park perimeter. Given that personal history, I really need to produce a better series of panos, retracing my hike up the creek to the Tall Trees. Next summer - I promise.

The Humboldt Lagoons are a lovely string of freshwater lakes, drowned valleys cut off by barrier beaches. With the exception of Big Lagoon I haven't done them justice. I have always wanted to boat across Stone Lagoon to the primitive campsites on the far side.

I did manage to update my Patricks Point panos with a trip this last January - normally the north coast is not a prime destination in winter, but I was very lucky with the weather. I was particularly glad to be able to shoot a new series of the re-created Yurok Indian village of Sumeg, built within the park by Yuroks and park staff. My old panos have been very popular over the years, especially with school kids studying Native Americans.

Finally we come to Trinidad, a delightful little town with a harbor and lighthouse, beach and pier. My panoramas continuing south from here can be found in the Virtual Guidebook to the Northern California Coast (currently being revised).

Another big update to the Redwood National Park guidebook will probably be forthcoming next fall, after my summer trips.


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Contact Don Bain: dbain@virtualguidebooks.com