Destination: Drive-Through Trees

Years ago, curious nature enthusiasts started a trend by carving holes in the trees they wished to study. These holes were large enough for cars to drive through, giving viewers a totally new perspective on trees. While this trend was detrimental to the environment and testifies to a previous disregard for nature preservation, the few drive-through trees that remain today are educational and inspiring to viewers.

It’s still possible to drive through some of these trees today. Due to the passing of time and the consequences of harsh climates, many of the drive-through trees from the past have fallen or can no longer accommodate vehicles. Visitors can either walk through or view these trees.

There are two types of trees that have been used for these purposes. Redwood trees, located on the Redwood Coast in Northern California, and giant sequoias, located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, are the only trees big enough to drive or walk through. The majestic redwood trees are most commonly seen in Redwood National and State Parks, while giant sequoias exist primarily in Yosemite National Park and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park

Giant Sequoias

There are several drive through, walk through and viewable sequoias. These trees are massive in size and can be found in parks and forests throughout the West Coast.

Drive Through Trees

Tunnel Log

Visitors to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park can experience the sensational drive-through trees. The “Tunnel Log” was created in the summer of 1938 as a tourist attraction in Giant Forest and is still in use today. This fallen tree is 17 feet tall by 8 feet wide and visitors in large and small vehicles can still drive through the tree today.
Location: Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park , Three Rivers, CA
Phone: (559) 565-3341

Walk Through Trees

Pioneer Cabin Tree

Calaveras Big Tree State Park is home to another one of the famous drive-through sequoia trees. The Pioneer Cabin Tree was cut in the 1880s to compete with the Wawona Tree. It still stands today, and hikers can walk through the middle of this tree as they walk the 1.5-mile loop trail in the park.
Location: Calaveras Big Tree State Park, Arnold, CA
Phone: (209) 795-2334

California Tunnel Tree

While the Wawona Tree fell from natural causes in 1968, its cousin survived and stands to this day in Mariposa Grove.  Although this surviving tree only accommodates walkers and cyclists, visitors can be sure to appreciate its history and beauty.
Location: Yosemite National Park, Yosemite, CA
Phone: (209) 372-0200

Hercules Tree

Mountain Home State Forest houses a walk-in tree. The Hercules Tree is still alive today and visitors can walk up the steps into a room carved into the tree.
Location: Mountain Home State Forest, Springville, CA
Phone: (916) 653-5000

View Only Trees

Wawona Tree

The first drive-through trees were located in Yosemite National Park. In 1881, park rangers carved a tunnel through the Wawona Tree, altering this giant sequoia to become a tourist attraction.
Location: Yosemite National Park, Yosemite, CA
Phone: (209) 372-0200

Auto Log and Tharp’s Log

Visitors can also see the Auto Log and Tharp’s Log in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park. Years ago, early visitors to the park created a roadway on top of a fallen tree. While this tree is now impassable due to rot, the Auto Log is a great sight to see. Tharp’s Log is a fallen giant sequoia into which a 19th century cattleman built his home. While these trees are only for viewing, they attest to the previous popularity of tree carving.
Location: Location: Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park, Three Rivers, CA
Phone: (559) 565-3341

Redwood Trees

Redwood National and State Parks in Northern California are also home to these few remaining marvels. Today, there are three coast redwood drive-through trees along US 101 in Klamath, Myers Flat and Leggett, California.

Drive Through Trees

Chandelier Tree

The Chandelier Tree, located in Leggett’s Drive-Thru Tree Park, resembles an ornate chandelier. This 7 feet tall by 6 feet wide beauty was built in the 1930s by Hazel and Charlie Underwood and is still open to the pubic today.
Location: 67402 (Hwy 271) Drive Thru Tree Road, Leggett, CA
Phone: (707) 925-6363 

 

 

 

Shrine Drive-Thru Tree

There are both drive-through and drive-over trees in Humboldt Redwoods State Park as well. Visitors can pass through Shrine Drive-Thru Tree or travel over an enormous redwood log when they visit the park. There is a walk-through stump and two-story tree houses for children as well.
Location: 13708 Ave of the Giants Myers Flat, CA 95554
Phone: (707) 943-1975

 

Klamath Tour-Thru Tree

And lastly, the Klamath Tour-Thru Tree, located just north of the Klamath Bridge, has a tunnel for drivers and picnic tables for those to watch and celebrate this special tree with other visitors.
Address: 430 Highway 169, Klamath, CA 95548
Phone: (707) 482-5971

Because of the negative effects of carving through trees, the trend of creating drive-through trees has long passed. However, our nation’s remaining drive-through trees are precious and rare: a testament to the American passion for knowledge and cultivation of curiosity.

Image 1: A truck drives through the Tunnel Log in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park. 

Images 2-4: Vehicles passing through the Shrine, Chandelier and Klamath Drive and Tour-Thru Trees. Courtesy of Redwoods.info