Snow in Redwoods 1

When you see redwoods in snow, what you are probably seeing is the cousin tree of coastal redwoods, the giant Sequoia, draped in a wintery mantle. Pictures of coastal redwoods in snow are rarer, because it doesn’t snow very often along the California northcoast, and when it does, many of the roads to the prime groves are closed. Type in “snow in redwoods” (with quotes) in google and you get nothing. Pictures of coastal redwoods draped in snow are a kind of holy grail for those of us who try to photograph these massive, heaven reaching trees.
When you see redwoods in snow, what you are probably seeing is the cousin tree of coastal redwoods, the giant Sequoia, draped in a wintery mantle. Pictures of coastal redwoods in snow are rarer, because it doesn’t snow very often along the California northcoast, and when it does, many of the roads to the prime groves are closed. Type in “snow in redwoods” (with quotes) in google and you get nothing. Pictures of coastal redwoods draped in snow are a kind of holy grail for those of us who try to photograph these massive, heaven reaching trees.

The best grove for photographing snow would probably be Lady Bird Johnson grove in Redwood National Park. In the first place, it’s about 1,000 feet in elevation, meaning that snow will occasionally fall there. And it is one of the more open groves, so what snow that falls can eventually fall to the ground and blanket large sections. Where the trees are tightly packed, the branches catch most of the snow before it hits the ground. One problem with Lady Bird Johnson Grove: whenever it snows, the road is closed. So however beautiful may fall in the Lady Bird Grove forest, there will never be a camera to record it, unless it belongs to some ranger who’s allowed access.

Last week the snow level dropped to below 500 feet, as a massive winter storm dropped inches of snow across the higher elevations of northern California. It snowed in parts of Redding and around Shasta Lake. Reports surfaced of snow in the Del Norte Redwoods just south of Crescent City. I ventured forth one afternoon in search of the great photographic desideratum. I checked the road to Lady Bird Johnson Grove. It was, as expected, closed. As was the road through Prairie Creek State Park, which also rises nearly to 1,000 feet, and contains some nice groves which might look rather fine in a mantle of snow. This left only one possible destination: Del Norte State Park.

The advantage of the Del Norte redwoods is that Highway 101 passes straight through them. Now that is a road that is usually kept open, even in bad winter weather. So there’s always a good chance of access to the Del Norte redwoods. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of good vantage points from which to photograph snow vistas in the Redwoods. Or, if such vantage points exist, I have yet to find them. Worse, the forest tends to be on the thick side, and not much snow reaches the floor. Here was the best I could find:

Del Norte WI10-3

—and this:

Del Norte WI10-10

Hardly what one might hope for. The holy grail of snow in redwoods once again remains largely out of reach—until perhaps next time!