It wasn’t the first time I awoke on a couch in Vegas nor would it be the last. The day before I had hiked the Grand Canyon and visited the Hoover Dam. The day before that I had been at Burning Man. Not a a bad week. Today, my goal was to explore the Redwood Forest.
It turns out there are two national parks in the United States with redwood trees. There is Sequoia National Park and Redwoods National Park. The former has the world’s tallest trees and the later has some of the biggest (think diameter). In true American fashion, I wanted to see the biggest and best. That title goes to General Sherman, the world’s largest tree.
The drive from Las Vegas to Sequoia National Park was straight forward. There was no traffic and it was an interesting drive. After I reached the park, I was astounded. It was much more beautiful than I had expected. Even without the famous lumber, I could have spent a week there. The views were spectacular.
I traveled up an extremely long and curvy road up the exterior of the mountain. Counterintuitively, the enormous trees were toward the top of the mountain, not at the bottoms in the valley. I was a huge fan of this as I love the opportunity to see how far I can push a car. The road was narrow and the turns were sharp. I rolled down the windows, and had a fantastic time.
As I got higher and higher, the trees started to get bigger and bigger. At the same time, odd red trees started to appear more and more. I had made it. The first redwood tree I saw was easily as wide as the car I was in. It was incredibly tall and dominating. Later, I would find out this was one of the smaller ones. As I continued upward, the redwoods started to out number the “normal” century old trees. I got to the parking lot and made my way down the path to General Sherman. I was already happy with what I had seen and was excited to see the crown jewel.
There was no need for signs to point out General Sherman. The tree stood out on its own. It was over 100 feet around and almost 300 feet tall. Scientists estimate it is more than 2,500 years old.
Red woods are able to reach their size and age because they have evolved to survive forest fires. They burn like any other tree but unlike other trees they don’t completely die. Instead a new layer of bark grows around the burnt tree. This enables them to grow uncommonly thick and old.
After admiring the world’s largest tree I went for a hike around the forest. It was getting late and the sun was going down but I didn’t mind. I felt at peace and enjoyed seeing all of the other massive trees in the forest. I am not sure how long I walked but it wasn’t long enough. The forest was incredible. I climbed some of the trees and crawled into the ones that had survived forest fires. It was a natural playground.
As I left the park, I had huge smile on my face. My whole journey had been phenomenal. Almost out of gas, I coasted down the winding road back to civilization. There was nothing more I wanted. I was completely satisfied.