We traveled to Redwood National Park (California) the second week of May. We hoped to catch the rhododendrons in bloom against the backdrop of the giant trees. We expected the redwoods to be similar to the sequoias we visited last year in southern California. The experience was different, though, in hard to describe ways. The redwoods are much taller and the sequoia are larger around. Both trees are massive, though, in comparison to the other trees in the surrounding forest. The redwood forest was lusher, very, very green. This could be due to California's excessive rainfall this spring, but I cannot compare it to more "normal" years. I don't know if I've ever seen such a variety of ferns as here, each seeming to vie for the great heights of the trees. Ferns were almost as tall as I was. Thick moss was everywhere. It seemed to grow on any and every surface much like kudzu in the southeast. Moss also hung from any and everyplace, also similar to the hanging moss in the southeast but greener.
The forests are vey near the coast with a slender section of meadowland and small towns. We could sleep in the forest and hear the ocean roaring not that far off as we drifted to sleep. As the rain continued during our visit, we enjoyed the views of the coastline through rainy windows and a misty atmosphere. If the rain and the wind weren't too bad, we ventured onto the beaches, beaches with black sand, grittier than most beach sand. The coastline is rocky with huge boulders that provide a playground for the waves to climb and wash over and around. It was here that our "puppy" learned to really swim. He has always LOVED water and would try to find ways to bet through railings and fencing to get into any water he saw. He knows water from within the Jeep, and if he sees any at all, he starts to whine and demand to be let out to play in it. He's played in it up to his belly before, maybe a little higher, but always at safe depths. This time he ventured into deeper water and realized the skill he was born with -- he could swim.
In the meadowlands, elk rested and grazed. We were told that these are the pregnant females waiting to give birth. One camp host said that they were "waiting for the first one to drop," but this did not happen while we were there. The elk were comfortable in the campgrounds and with viewers on the sides of the road. Two of the campgrounds we stayed at had wild elk. Of course, there is always the warning that these are wild animals and not to be approached, especially when the elk are guarding their young.
The rhododendrons were in bright bloom in their many gorgeous colors in many of the yards. People in this area are proud of their rhodos. In the redwood forest, though, the flowers were just beginning to wake. I was able to find a few bushes with blooms on them, but only a few and these were higher up on the bushes making it difficult to photograph.
If you've been here, we'd love to hear your stories. I would suggest going a week later than we went to see more flowers in bloom in the forest, to see the baby elk, and to see the whales migrating north along the coastline. I think that this is a beautiful area to visit and worth the trip even without those extras. Be prepared for rain and chilly temps. Some of the coastal road and some roads in the park are a bit bumpy (maybe a lot bumpy), so consider that before you set off on any old road. Most roads, all the roads you would need to travel on, are in good condition and present no worries.