Avenue of the Giants: The 31 Mile Redwood Drive You Have to Do

The 31 mile road called the Avenue of the Giants in Northern California is one of the best stretches of road in all of California. I would put it next to Big Sur in terms of the beauty that you will pass as you drive. The greens, browns and yellows will blow you away as you curve around the windy State Route 254 in search of your favorite grove. If you have not driven this road then you must add it to your bucket list, it is one of the best places in California. Here are my favorite stops in the Avenue of the Giants. If you are looking for a map there is one right when you get off the freeway on the right hand side. I recommend taking a picture of it so that you can reference it while driving.

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History

Here is a little history on the area:

The Avenue of the Giants was the original stretch of Route 101 until a freeway bypass was created in 1960. After that time the road was given a new designation of Route 254 and maintained by the state. As for the park itself, it exists mostly because of a road trip three men took in 1917. When they were driving through the area and witnessed the destruction of these mighty trees, they set up a movement to protect the area and turn it into a state park. Thanks to their work, the Avenue of the Giants can still be enjoyed today.

Map

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Right when you pull off the freeway for the start of the Avenue of the Giants you will see a sign on the side of the road with a map of the entire drive. I suggest taking a phone picture of it so you know where you are.

The Road

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The road itself is one of the amazing parts of this area as you will be bending around turns that lead to better and better views as you get deeper into the forest. Views like the above are not uncommon in the Avenue of the Giants and ever half mile you will be passing a sign for another grove.

Shine Drive Thru Tree

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About 10 miles into the drive you will see the Shine Drive Thru Tree on your left hand side. This is $6 well spent if you have a family. The tree is very narrow to drive thru at around 7′ x 7′ but it is a lot of fun. Whats even more fun is all of the other attractions they have such as a “walk thru tree” for children, a tree you can drive onto and picnic benches for relaxing. Read more about it here.

Williams Grove

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A few miles ahead of the drive thru tree is the Williams Grove. This grove is majestic and is the perfect place for a picnic. When you drive in you will see a parking lot from which you can make your way into the grove and explore. There are trees to climb on, benches to sit at and beauty to gawk at. It is a beautiful taste of the forest and I recommend it as a first stop as it gives you a taste before it even gets better.

Visitors Center

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About 10 minutes down the road from the Williams Grove is the visitor center. There are bathrooms here and I recommend heading in for a map so you can get to one of the harder to find spots I reference later in the post. If you want to ask them how to get to the Giant & Flatiron Tree that will help you later as it is not well marked from the main road.

Founders Grove and Dyerville Giant

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If you only have time to do one thing here make sure it is the Founders Grove. This place is an amazing taste of the Redwoods and has one of the largest fallen trees I have seen in my life. When you see it it will give you a new perspective on how big these trees actually are, I was blow away. There is a half mile trail here which has interpretative numbers corresponding to a information booklet and is a great way to see the life cycle of these trees. There is also the massive Founders Tree right in the middle of the trail. Read about the Founders Grove here.

Giant Tree & Flatiron Tree

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If you asked at the visitors center about Giant Tree & Flatiron Tree then you should make sure you go. It is located 4 miles off the Avenue of the Giants on route to the Rockefeller Grove. It is the largest tree in the park at over 17 feet in diameter. I know it is hard to think about but this tree really is massive. The road to get here is paved but has a lot of potholes. Also, the bridge you need to cross from the parking lot is not present in the winter so you will need to walk through the water if you want to see the tree. Read about it here

Other Groves

As you will notice there are so many groves you can pull out at during this drive. I have not seen all of them but did a lot of research beforehand to visit the ones that I did. If you have more time I would suggest just stopping and checking out some of the other groves as I am sure they are all great stops if they have been given an official name. If you have been to one that I left off make sure to tell us about it in the comments.

Eternal Treehouse 

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While it is not as exciting as the rest of the list, this little treehouse was created inside of a massive redwood. You can go into it even when the cafe is closed and it is a fun 5 minute stop near the end of the road. Read more about it here.

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There are dozens of other groves to explore and trails to wander. Really you should plan on spending a full day or at least a half day here so you do not have to be rushed. Pull out when your heart desires and marvel at this majestic place. The views you will see here will no doubt be with you for the rest of your life. If I left anything off then make sure to leave it in the comments.

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  • Gorgeous photos, great post! I’m looking forward to taking the bus down through the redwoods soon.

    • Thanks for the comment, it is an amazing place I highly recommend you visit!

  • Beautiful place! Great pictures! I saw the sequoias at Yosemite during my tour through california last year and loved them, too!

    • Thanks for the comment, yea the Sequoias in the National Park and in Yosemite are equally amazing. I love that area as well!

  • Bradley

    Great pictures and details! Thanks for sharing. Do you know if there is a bus tour that takes one through the Avenue of the Giants? Or do you have to drive in your own car?

    • I am not aware of a bus tour that will take you. There may be one available but a car would be the best bet so you can stop whenever you need to.

      • Bradley

        That makes sense, thanks!

  • Danielle

    I am planning a 10 day trip to CA in November, flying into San Fran and driving the coast to San Diego. I don’t plan on doing too many full-day activities like zoo’s or amusement parks, this trip is mainly for the beautiful scenery and racking up as many “postcard pictures” as possible. In your opinion would I have adequate time to travel a little further north to do this drive?

    • I usually plan about 6-7 days to drive the whole of PCH and take it relatively slow. That is just one way though so depending on what you wanted to see when you drove North and what else you are trying to see on the trip like Yosemite, etc that would be a big factor

      • Danielle

        Thank you for responding so quickly Josh. I am from the east coast and this will be my first time in CA (and probably my last for a long time) so I want to see as much as possible in the time I have. Driving my car through a redwood is absolutely on my list of “must do’s”. A few other big ones on my list is the golden gate bridge, TCL Theatre, Hollywood Hills, a beach from a cliff and vise versa, Hearst Castle and (thanks to your blog) Galleta Meadows.
        I will be traveling solo. Are the hostels relatively safe?
        I have been reading through many of your blogs and you have provided so much great information, thank you for sharing! I really want to make it to some of the bizarre shops and sites you listed.

        • Sounds like a fantastic itinerary with a lot of great stops! I haven’t stayed in any hostels so unfortunately I can’t offer any advice on that front. I usually camp when I travel!

  • Sayali Sheth

    Whenever I am at such places I am in awe. I am putting this on my must see list. Thank you for the details. I always wonder though, how do you manage to get the shots from the middle of the road? Do you have a lookout person who well looks out for cars coming your way while you are taking the shot?

    • No problem, it truly is a beautiful place! I was there during an off time and there was pretty much no one around, so that is why I walked out to take a few shots from the road. I would never do this without someone who can tell me if cars are coming or in a place with poor visibility.

  • Janice Bellanca

    Thank you for this awesome blog. We will be traveling to San Francisco in a month and driving through much of what you have described. I loved reading your descriptions and the time frames that it took you to visit each place. It helped us to even more decide where to go and what to do.

    • No problem, have fun exploring!