Trees of Mystery Redwoods park in northern California
At the entrance of the Trees of Mystery park, just off of the 101 in California, you are greeted by a giant 49 ft statue of Paul Bunyan and his anatomically correct bull. For those who don't know, the lumberjack Paul Bunyan and his blue bull, Babe are the center of many North American folk tales. And yes, Paul Bunyan will talk to you as you walk past him to the main entrance.
Redwoods are fascinating trees and although this park is a little touristy, there are some wonderful examples of redwoods that can be found on easily walked paths. For example, did you know that if a live redwood tree falls, it can continue to grow from its limbs? Examples of this are when you see a circle of the trees, it means they sprouted and grew from the perimeter of a redwood stump!
There is a skyline ride that takes you to a point where you can see the ocean, part of the Siskiyou Mountain range and if you have a sharp eye, you may find the large osprey nest that sits on top of a large redwood tree in the distance.
Not only are there the trees and the skyline ride but there is an excellent museum with examples of the clothing, foods, baskets and history of the first people of North America. This native American museum is the best that I've seen on the West Coast and it's worth it to check this place just for the quality and quantity of historical items found here.
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Paul Bunyan in the Trees of Mystery
Yes, there's a hint of the American road trip cheese factor, but for a family on the stretch of road from Northern California to Oregon on Highway 101, this stop would be a home run. It's 36 miles south of the Oregon border, amidst the miles of coastal Redwood forests and Paul and Babe appear just at the right time for a restroom break and a chance to stretch your legs on some of the interpretive trails.
I was skeptical as I walked through, and had honestly ignored the Trees of Mystery many times when I'd been leading family camping trips in the Redwood National Forest for Backroads in years past, not giving it the credit it deserves. This park has been owned by the same family for the last 67 years and their genuine intent is to protect these magnificent trees and educate their visitors (with huge helpings of humor in the process).
There are different entrance fees based and a good selection of trails, walks and experiences to choose from while you're there. If all you're looking to do is take a quick photo op with Paul and Babe and find a free restroom, then this is your spot as well. Have those cameras ready, Paul is just over 49 feet tall and his ox Babe is 35 feet.