Travel, VanLife

Visiting the Redwoods National Park

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Hi from RGB (Rane, Greg, Bode) Adventures, we have decided to do our series a little out of order.  I did not realize that the Redwoods and the far Northern California Coast has so little cellular service.  This rugged and isolated stretch of coastline has been called ‘The Lost Coast’ for good reason.  The videos on how to choose your RV, Why the Winnebago Boldt, the ‘shake down’ tour, and getting our RV fixed under warranty will be delayed until we hit good cellular and wifi services.  We have jumped ahead to our first roadtrip the through the California Redwoods.

We left Junction City and Eugene, Oregon exhausted on a Friday evening so we weren’t creative and boondocked at the second rest area south of Eugene near exit 40 in Oakland, Oregon.  It isn’t bad and not too loud; a small herd of deer were walking through when we arrived.  The highlight for Bode was a full poop bag dispenser and dog walking areas.  Gotta keep all members of our tribe happy.

Oregon allows you 12 hours at their rest areas, so we got our 12 hours of shut eye and then headed south to the California Redwoods.  As you will see from the video and images on our Facebook page, it is a beautiful drive and not that many cars in the winter time. We started in the pouring rain of the Valley and the clouds parted and the beautiful sun beamed down on us the rest of the trip towards Crescent City.  Our first stop was off Highway 199 at the Eight Dollar Mountain Botanical Wayside Boardwalk and Jeffery Pine Loop.  We highly recommend it as a good place to move the legs before the final push towards Crescent City.

We would also suggest since there are so few people here in this isolated and seldom visited part of Oregon that one could stop at the Jeffery Pine Loop Trail head if you are tired, this could be a great boondock spot.  There are not overnight parking restriction signs, so we think you should be okay.  From here we headed back on the highway 199 to Crescent City and about 10 miles before you get to Crescent City you will hit the Smith River National Recreation Area.  We highly recommend Madrona River Access (near Gasquet, CA), it is the only free campground (max 7 day stay) where you can boondock at no charge.  We got a great spot next to the river and there is even a firepit and picnic table for you to enjoy.

Next, we stocked up at Crescent City and stopped by the visitor office for the Redwood National Park, there we got our map and the lowdown on what to see.  The Redwood National Park is paired with the California State Park system so you will need to pay state park fees if you stay at any state parks overnight.  We checked out the following trails and viewpoints in the National Park: Vista Point, Coastal Trail at Crescent Beach, Damnation Trail, Overlook, Yurok Loop Trail, and Klamath River Overlook.

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You will find driving an RV takes a lot more work than your SUV or passenger car and you get tired quick (I know this as the navigator taking care of the grumpy driver who makes specific point on how easy I got it as cook and dog mom.  I will admit out of 4,000 miles on the odometer I’ve driven about 40 J.) so instead of heading all the way down to the next campground we decided to just boondock.  The Yurok Redwood Casino are happy to allow you to stay for free in their lot, you just need to go inside and register your vehicle.  It was quiet and we had the wonderful opportunity to get a tour with the handmade dugout canoes being made out of large Redwood logs.  According to the craftsman that we spoke to he learned the trade from Yurok Tribal Elders and was trying to pass on the tradition to the Yurok children.  He was worried that the next generation wasn’t too interested in learning this important tradition but the tribe had put together a program for him to have interns and children to train.  The forest service allows the tribe to take a 6-8-foot Redwood Trunk that takes them 3 months to dig out.  He showed me the traditional tools and rocks they used back in the days but now he uses a chain saw, sander and modern tools so instead of 2 years it takes 3 months.  He explained the important carved out parts inside the canoe being the nose, heart, and kidneys of the boat.  The tribesman has 3 months to make 8 canoes and he was working on his 3rd.   If you are interested the Yurok Tribe is planning to offer traditional dugout canoe tours on the Klamath River beginning Spring 2020.  It was interesting to learn a bit about the history of the largest tribe and (according to the tribe member) unfortunately the poorest tribe in California!  It was sad to see when I did a little more research that after the Gold Rush 75% of the tribe was decimated from massacre and disease from settlers.

The next day we checked out the rest of the National Park.  I forgot to tell you the National Park is free, so you don’t need your annual pass but they charge for all the campgrounds and there is no discount.  One thing I did learn though is if you have a disability like me (which is another long story, check out my TBI blog), you can get a lifetime National Park Pass called the Access Pass for free with your Social Security SSA Benefit Letter!  We got the access pass, too bad we already paid for annual pass but now we have a pass for lifetime!  So cool and a nice benefit for those with disabilities!

After the Yurok Casino make sure you take exit 765 and take the lovely Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway through the park instead of the 101 or you will miss most of the big Redwoods.  That’s what you’re here for after all right, so slow down and enjoy the windy slow ride.  For the rest of the park we scoped out the Coastal Trail to Flint Ridge, Ah-Pah trail, Big Tree Wayside (my favorite), Elk Prairie, Elk Meadow, Stone Lagoon (Be careful if you are in an RV it is steep one lane road in sand- we wouldn’t recommend it in a camper van or bigger), Big Lagoon and Patrick Point.  We were here in winter, during February, so the road to Gold Bluffs Beach was a little treacherous and suggested by the forest service to not go down in our Sprinter. The camp grounds at Elk Prairie and Patrick’s Point were very underwhelming at $35 a night as many of the campsites are closed in the winter and only have a water spigot, picnic table, fire ring, bathrooms and showers are closed for the winter (no hookups or RV dump stations).  So we headed on down to Arcata to talk to the BLM office and figure out our next spot, tune in to next week as we describe Humboldt Redwoods State Park, the Avenue of the Giants and wine tasting in Napa! In the mean time see the video on our adventures or learn more about the Redwoods and Yurok tribe.

Action:

1. Check out our video on our adventure & subscribe to our channel

2. Learn about Redwood National Park

3. Learn about the Yurok Tribe and taking Canoe Tours this Summer

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