Many visitors to northern California flock to see the giant redwoods and sequoias, many of which are thousands of years old. Driving or walking through these forests can be a truly awe-inspiring experience. Some people decide that driving through a forest isn’t sufficient for their adventurous spirit. They want to drive through an actual tree. Though the places where one can do this are harder to come by than they once were, it’s still possible to find some entrepreneurial souls who will allow you to drive through a redwood for a small fee.
Where can you drive through a redwood tree?
If you’re looking to drive through a coastal redwood tree, there are a few options to choose from along Highway 101 in northern California. According to the USDA, the northernmost option is the Klamath Tour Thru Tree, which, according to visitors reviewing the site on TripAdvisor, costs $5 to enter. Apparently, not only can you drive through a tree here, but if reviewers are to be believed, you can also stop at a small bathroom in a tree just beyond the main attraction.
Down 101 to the south, you’ll find the Shrine Drive-Thru Tree on the Avenue of the Giants in Myers Flat. The cost to drive through this tree, according to reviewers on TripAdvisor, is $10. Finally, there’s the Chandelier Tree in the town of Leggett. According to TripAdvisor, like the Shrine, the Chandelier also costs $10 for the privilege of driving through it. Be prepared to wait a bit for your turn under the tree, especially during peak tourist season.
Drive-through trees go way back
Drive-through trees have been an attraction in California for nearly as long as there have been cars. And many of them have pretty exciting histories. Take the Shrine tree, for example. According to Roadside America, tourists have been driving through this tree since the 1920s, making it one of the oldest attractions along the Avenue of the Giants. The story goes that a lightning strike and resulting fire initially hollowed out the tree. The hole in the tree was eventually enlarged to allow a greater variety of vehicles to pass through it.
One of the most famous drive-through trees in northern California isn’t a redwood but a sequoia. Unfortunately, it no longer exists. We’re referring to the legendary Wawona Tree in Yosemite. The National Park Service explains that a tunnel was cut through that tree all the way back in 1881 as a way to attract tourists. Using it as an attraction in this way was partially responsible for its demise, however. It fell over during the harsh winter of 1969, likely weakened by the years of serving as a tunnel.
Keep these things in mind before driving under a redwood
There are a few things to keep in mind when driving under a redwood. First and foremost, doing so requires the driver to be particularly attentive. There is often almost no room for error when going through the tree because the tunnels can be extremely narrow.
Make sure you’re aware of your vehicle’s height before entering the tree. It’s easy to forget about things like rooftop racks until it’s too late. The same goes for the width of your car. Often, drivers report only having an inch or so of clearance on either side when they drive through a tree. This makes it especially important to pull in your side mirrors and any other protruding parts of the car, much as you would do in a car wash.
All in all, driving through a redwood can be a fun way to spend a few minutes of your journey through northern California. Just be sure you know for sure how large a space your vehicle is capable of fitting in before you find your car is scratched, scraped, or worse of all, stuck.
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