There are many reasons why visiting the redwoods is a worthwhile spiritual journey. Redwoods are special in so many ways.

  • They only live along a 450 mile stretch of coast that goes from southern Oregon to just below Monterey county, California that get heavy winter rain, dense fog in the summer, and elevations of at least 1,000 feet. So their habitat is pretty narrow.
  • They are tall! The tallest one on record is 380 feet tall. There is no way to capture what that looks and feels like. The tree with the most volume (they can spread out a lot) is 38,000 cubic feet.
  • They are long lived. The oldest tree stump found has 2,200 rings, so we know that redwoods can live at least two thousand years under the right conditions.
  • Redwoods are ancient. They have been around for 240 million years! They arrived just after dinosaurs and before birds, flowers, spiders, and humans. Imagine all that they’ve seen!
  • They inspire.

I can’t tell you what it’s like to walk among the giants. It’s something you truly have to experience for yourself. I suspect it’s much like looking up at the wonder of the night sky. There is a feeling that both expands you – when you realize you’re a part of something that contains something as big and awe inspiring as this – and humbles you. I certainly felt my insignificance there.

Redwoods make you think. Many of the trees I saw were leaning. Some had their shallow roots exposed so I could see that they were only 5 to 6 feet deep. So how could they possibly stand with so much weight up above?

The secret is their roots spread out like fans which gives them stability. They also reach out and around other redwoods. They all support each other. No one stands alone. The grove is critical to their survival.

I saw many redwoods with fire damage, but redwood bark can be a foot thick. They don’t die. Redwoods contain tannins that protect it from fire, insect damage, fungus, and diseases. Redwood seeds also sprout more easily after a fire. And when a tree dies, sprouts may regenerate from the roots, so the tree is practically indestructible.

photo by Naotake Murayama

Redwoods are living examples of how the wheel of life turns. Fire purifies and paves the way for new life to generate in a healthier way.

Redwoods also clean the air. They absorb more carbon dioxide from our cars and factories than any other tree. Like all trees, they also give off negative ions that improve mood and health. So just being there surrounded by all their luscious goodness was more than a spiritual high. It’s a physical one too.

I don’t know about you, but when I go on vacation, I contemplate going out to Nature. Visiting the redwoods just seems like a sensible thing to do. They have such strong, ancient, sturdy energy. They gave me such a sense that life renews. No matter what natural or manmade disaster happens, life will still be here.

So while they are on the other side of the country, I feel “better” for having got to know them and spend time in their presence. Each creature has something to teach and a reason for being. The redwoods roots each down into the Earth. Their crowns touch the sky, so for me, they represent wholeness and regeneration.