A FEW MILLION YEARS AGO, the coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) covered large swathes of North America, Europe, and Asia. By the 1850s, before the advent of modern commercial logging, this range had been reduced by natural causes to the Northern California coast, though still these forests were robust and dominated the landscape. Since then, it’s estimated that 95% of old-growth redwoods have been cut — only groves situated in steep gullies and other hard-to-access terrain, and those hurriedly protected as people realized how endangered the species had become, remain.
Yet even though their numbers may be a mere fraction of what they once were, when you’re walking through one of the old, mighty groves in Redwood National Park, or Jedediah Smith, Prairie Creek, Del Norte, or Humboldt State Park, their impact is unmistakable. You’re transported to a different world, a different time, one that exists nowhere else on Earth.