The Avenue of the Giants is is one of so many breathtaking and unique features that make California such an amazing state. Less than an hour ago, we were relaxing on the coast, now we are in the middle of towering redwoods—hearing them creak ominously.
Avenue of the Giants is a road that snakes through notable groves and occasional small towns within the Humboldt Redwoods State Park. The park was saved from logging when it was bought in 1921 from the Pacific Lumber Company. Thanks to conservation efforts, there are over 100 trees within the forest that exceed 350 feet. Lumberjacks, the Rockafellers, and even Sasquatch have been woven into the story of these woods.
When European-American settlers arrived in the redwoods in the 1850s, they began felling these giants to create homes and pastures. The Lumber industry quickly found business opportunities in the forests. But with the quickly dwindling old growth forests, outdoors clubs raised money to purchase some of these ancient forests, which became the original Humboldt Redwoods State Park.
One of the most remarkable parts of the park is Rockefeller Forest, an old growth redwood forest preserved thanks to the intervention of the Rockefellers. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. was impressed when he was given a tour by Save-the-Redwoods League officials. His donation, matched by the state of California, lead to the protection of what is today, the largest contiguous old-growth coastal redwoods in the world.
Even so, much of the Avenue of the Giants is a very shallow representation of redwoods due to regular logging that occurs tightly around the borders of these parks. People who look for the original filming locations of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi will find that Endor has been logged. The setting where Ewoks joined with Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo to take down the Empire evoked that awesome, ancient, and primitive feel thanks to its large redwoods. But the type of use necessitated by Lucas wasn’t exactly the kind that would be permitted in parks. Instead, they filmed on land held by Miller-Rellim Redwood Company where they could built their sets with little intervention. Over 30 years later, things have changed a lot.
Despite the limited remaining forests, many a roadside tourist business along Avenue of the Giants will assure you that there’s a enough redwoods to conceal a certain hairy simian. Yes, there have been Big Foot sightings in these woods. Never mind the lack of physical evidence that would have been encountered by the scientists, hikers, and lumberjacks who scour these woods in the course of any common day in the redwoods. This is a land of endless possibilities.