Drive-Through Trees

Let a Drive-Thru Tree Be Your Redwoods Souvenir Photo

drive-thru-trees

California Drive-through trees

Worthwhile everybody-has-to-do-it-once experience or cheesy tourist trap that’ll make you wish you had your $5 back?

When it comes to driving your car through a drive-thru tree, visitors to the California Redwoods fall decisively into one of the two camps.

Personally, we think a drive-thru tree is worth it just for the photo op.

Any California Redwoods scrapbook or family album worth its salt has to have at least one picture of the ol’ family automobile squeezing through a tunnel carved out of a massive, centuries-old tree.

In fact, we’ve flipped through albums from years past only to realize the drive-thru tree was the only picture we had of our erstwhile beloved car!

There are three drive-thru trees in the California Redwoods. We’ll take you on a brief tour of each one, and let you decide whether or not it’s worth the money.

Each drive-thru tree in the California Redwoods is privately owned and costs a nominal fee per car. More likely than not, you’ll find yourself paying on the honor system, stuffing your money into a box instead of a real person’s hand.

Now that you kind of know what you’re in for, let’s take a tour of each California Redwoods drive-thru tree. Feel free to pick one — or hit all three!

Shrine Drive-Thru Tree

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Shrine Drive-through tree

The Shrine Drive-Thru Tree, located four miles south of the Humboldt Redwoods State Park Visitors Center in Myers Flat, gets its name from a former owner, who was a member of the Shriners fraternal organizatation. Fees collected during that time were donated to the Shriners’ charitable causes.

Many visitors prefer the Shrine Drive-Thru Tree because it offers a little bit more to do than just drive through a tree. There’s also a drive-over tree, which is pretty self-explanatory, and a two-story children’s treehouse and walk-through stump, plus a gift shop open from dawn to dusk.

Shrine Drive-Thru Tree address: 13078 Avenue of the Giants, Myers Flat, CA 95554.

Interested in staying overnight near the Shrine Drive-Thru Tree? We highly recommend it just for the location alone — you’re right on the Avenue of the Giants, home to some of the most spectacular redwoods specimens in the world.

Here’s our pick for nearby lodging:

Myers Country Inn
This former stage stop has been turned into a beautiful historic country inn, located 10 miles from the Humboldt Redwoods State Park Visitors Center near Myers Flat. It has 10 rooms, some of which have their own doorways to a wrap-around veranda. One even has a private balcony. Breakfast is included in the rate.

12913 Avenue of the Giants, Myers Flat, CA 95554; (800) 500-6464 or (707) 943-3259

Now ya gotta eat, right? You’re in luck — there’s an absolutely stellar restaurant near the Shrine Drive-Thru Tree that seems like it belongs in San Francisco, not the middle of nowhere. Here’s the 411:

The Groves Restaurant
Many people say it’s the best restaurant in southern Humboldt County, and we’d have to agree.

No roadside greasy spoon, The Groves offers innovative upscale dining with prices to match. (But you won’t be sorry!)

The Groves, tucked into a bend on the Eel River next door to its sister winery, Riverbend Cellars, serves specialties including roast lamb, coq au vin, duck, filet mignon, and flat iron steak. Whatever you do, don’t skip dessert!

12990 Avenue of the Giants, Myers Flat, CA 95554

Chandelier Tree

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Chandelier Drive-thorugh tree

The Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree in Leggett, Calif. resembles an ornate chandelier, with an intricate tangle of branches balanced on either side of the trunk starting at about 100 feet up.

The 6-foot-wide by 6-foot-9-inch high opening, carved during the 1930s, doesn’t look like it would allow passage for a good-sized vehicle, but most drivers find they fit just fine.

After driving through the tree, be sure to visit the gift shop, have a picnic near the pond, and hike the park’s 250 acres of wilderness.

You can get to the Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree by taking the Leggett exit where Highway 101 joins Highway 1. After exiting the freeway, turn south immediately onto the frontage road and watch for signs to the park.

The park’s address: 67402 Drive-Thru Tree Road (Highway 271), Leggett, CA 95585; phone (707) 925-6464; e-mail underwoodpark@aol.com.

Looking to bunk for the night near the Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree? Here are our favorite lodging choices:

Stonegate Villas
Located three-fourths of a mile off Highway 101 at the south Leggett exit on “Drive-Thru Tree Road” (2 miles south of the junction of Highway 101 and Highway 1), this peaceful retreat is a nine-unit motel offering kitchens. Units that don’t have kitchens have a microwave, fridge, ice, and dishes. Picnic tables, hammocks, and a gas barbecue grill are among the amenities. No phones, TVs, or Internet.

65260 Drive-Thru Tree Road, Leggett, CA 95585; (707) 925-6226 or (888 925-6226

Big Bend Lodge
These cabins with fully equipped kitchens put one in mind of a 1940s resort, and you’ll dig the setting — a pastoral view of the south fork of the Eel River.

Each cabin has a large porch with picnic table, outdoor lounges and chairs, and a barbecue grill. Cabins are grouped around a common area that has a campfire ring, basketball court, outdoor ping-pong, and several seating areas. If you want to get away from it all, there’s plenty of opportunity for solitidue along nature paths with private benches. Nearby is a private beach with a deep swimming hole. Kids will enjoy the old-fashioned tire swing under a big oak tree.

63250 Big Bend Lodge Road, Leggett, CA 95585; (707) 925-2440

Klamath Tour-Thru Tree

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Klamath Drive-through tree

Located north of the Klamath Bridge (Terwer Valley exit from Highway 101), the Klamath Tour-Thru Tree is perhaps the least crowded of all the California redwoods drive-thru trees.

Unlike some that look like they’ve seen better days, this drive-thru tree is actually a healthy living redwood tree.

Approximately 725 years old (young by redwoods standards!), the Klamath Tour-Thru Tree’s tunnel is 7-feet-4-inches wide and 9-feet-6 inches high, allowing easy passage for most vehicles.

Pick a day when no one else is likely to be there (bad weather), and you can get your thrills driving through the tree again and again. Many visitors have done it!

Klamath Tour-Thru Tree address: 450 Highway 169, Klamath, CA 95548; (707) 482-5971

Once you’ve seen the Klamath Tour-Thru Tree, don’t despair. A bevy of other activities in the area await you.Try some of these:

  • Klamath River Jet Boat Tours: 45-mile round trips on the Klamath River, with options for personalized and dinner cruises. Call 1-800-887-JETS or (707) 482-7775.
  • The Klamath Salmon Festival, held every August. Hosted by the Yurok Native American tribe, it’s your chance to get your fill of yummy local salmon cooked on traditional redwood sticks over a fire.Stay for the arts and crafts, riverboat rides, and cultural demonstrations.
  • Trees of Mystery. The Sky Trail gondola takes you high above the canopy of redwoods.

If you’re seeking nearby lodging, here are our suggestions:

Ravenwood Motel and Vacation Rentals
Gorgeous gardens, affordable rates, guest laundry, quiet location, expanded contintental breakfast, barbecue grill and fire pit, plus suites with kitchens — there’s a lot to like about this place.

151 Klamath Blvd., PO Box 1004, Klamath, CA 95548-1004; (707) 482-5911 or 1-866-520-9875

Rivers West Lodge
If you’re traveling with a large group, this is your ideal place. Here are just some of the highlights:

  • Remote wilderness setting
  • Three bedrooms, two full baths, three half baths
  • Bunk house that sleeps four
  • Deck with killer views of the Klamath River
  • Continental breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • Fishing guides and rafts available for additional cost
  • Fishing/fly fishing
  • Horseshoes
  • Hiking
  • Wild-berry picking

Call 408-741-0132; www.RiversWestLodge.com



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