Redwood National Park is known as the home of the tallest trees on Earth. Redwoods grow from the seeds the size of a tomato seed, yet can weigh 500 tons and stand taller than the Statue of Liberty. Its foot-thick bark makes the tree all but impervious to fire and insects.
The parks also protect vast prairies, oak woodlands, wild riverways, and nearly 40 miles of rugged coastline. For thousands of years people have lived in this verdant landscape. Together, the National Park Service and California State Parks manage these lands for the inspiration, enjoyment, and education of all. Redwood National Park is located along the coast of northern California.
Established in 1968, the park features old-growth temperate rainforests. Along with three California state parks, together they protect 45% of all remaining coast redwood old-growth forests, totaling at least 38,982 acres. These trees are the tallest and one of the most massive tree species on Earth. In addition to the redwood forests, the parks preserve other indigenous flora, fauna, grassland prairie, cultural resources, portions of rivers and other streams, and nearly 40 miles of pristine coastline.
In 1850, old-growth redwood forest covered more than 2,000,000 acres of the California coast. The northern portion of that area, originally inhabited by Native Americans, attracted many lumbermen and others turned gold miners when a minor gold rush brought them to the region. Failing in efforts to strike it rich in gold, these men turned toward harvesting the giant trees for booming development in San Francisco and other places on the West Coast. After many decades of unrestricted clear-cut logging, serious efforts toward conservation began. By the 1920s the work of the Save the Redwoods League, founded in 1918 to preserve remaining old-growth redwoods, resulted in the establishment of Prairie Creek, Del Norte Coast, and Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Parks among others.
Redwood National Park was created in 1968, by which time nearly 90% of the original redwood trees had been logged. The National Park Service and the California Department of Parks and Recreation administratively combined Redwood National Park with the three abutting Redwood State Parks in 1994 for the purpose of cooperative forest management and stabilization of forests and watersheds as a single unit. The ecosystem preserves a number of threatened animal species such as the tidewater goby, Chinook salmon, northern spotted owl, and Steller's sea lion. In recognition of the rare ecosystem and cultural history found in the parks, the United Nations designated them a World Heritage Site on September 5, 1980 and part of the California Coast Ranges International Biosphere Reserve on June 30, 1983.