National and State
In 1994, the National Park Service and the California Department of Parks and Recreation agreed to manage the four parks jointly for the best resource protection possible. RNSP today form a World Heritage Site and are part of the California Coast Range Biosphere Reserve.
The national park was dedicated on October 2, 1968.
Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park was established on August 13, 1923.
Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park was established on October 26, 1925.
Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park was established on June 3, 1929.
Currently, the combined parks contain 112,613 acres (45,573 hectares) – (federal: 78,812 acres; state: 33,801 acres).
Old-growth forest is 38,982 acres (15775 hectares) – (federal: 19,640 acres; state: 19,342 acres).
American Indians in the region belonged to many tribes, although no one tribe dominated. There were scores of villages that dotted the coast and lined the major rivers; each of these villages was more or less politically independent, yet linked to one another by intricate networks of economic, social, and religious ties.
Traditional homes of the region’s American Indians usually were constructed of planks split from fallen redwoods. These houses were built over pits dug beneath the building, with the space between the pit and the walls forming a natural bench.
After gold was discovered along northwestern California’s Trinity River in 1850, outsiders moved into the area in overwhelming numbers. The newcomers pushed the American Indians off their land, hunted them down, scorned, raped, and enslaved them. Resistance was often met with massacres.
When gold was discovered, thousands crowded the remote redwood region. These people were dependent upon lumber, and the redwoods conveniently provided the wood that they needed.
The size of the huge trees made them prized timber; and redwood became known for its durability and workability.
By 1853, nine sawmills were at work in Eureka, a gold boom town established three years prior because of the gold boom.
Large-scale logging was soon underway, and the once immense stands of redwoods began to disappear by the close of the nineteenth century.
California’s coast redwood may grow to a height of 367 feet (122 m) and have a width of 22 feet (7 m) at its base.
Fossil records have shown that relatives of today’s coast redwoods thrived in the Jurassic Era.
The trees can reach ages of 2,000 years and regularly reach 600 years. California’s North Coast provides the only environment in the world suitable for redwoods. A combination of longitude, climate, and elevation limits the redwoods’ range to a few hundred coastal miles.
The North Coast region, which includes RNSP and the adjacent offshore area, is the most seismically active region in the United States. As a result of frequent earthquakes, rapid uplift rates have led to landslides, actively braiding and shifting rivers, and rapid coastal erosion.
This activity results from the movement of three tectonic plates – the North American, the Pacific, and the Gorda – which contact each other at the Mendocino triple junction, about 100 miles (160 km) southwest of RNSP.
See maps of the parks.
We would like to thank Andrea Williams, Biological Science Technician (Plants), Redwood National and State Parks, also the National Park Service and the California Department of Parks and Recreation for information for this page.
(This page was updated in November 2012.)