Redwood trees grow only in California because of California's unique climate created by the Pacific Ocean. There is a long dry season in California and the giant trees get moisture from the fog that comes from the Pacific Ocean. The trees require thousands of liters of moisture to stay alive and grow big. There are two types of redwood trees that grow in California: the coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) which grow taller, and the giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum) which grow wider.
The taller Coast Redwood grows, as the name suggests, along the Pacific Ocean coast as far as approximately 30 miles inland. They are common in Bay Area and can be seen as far south as Big Sur. The Giant Squoia tends to grow further east at Yosemite and Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks.
Muir Woods is a popular destination to see the giant coastal redwoods. Muir Woods is home to some of the tallest trees in the world, some growing as high as 250 feet. The costal redwoods have long but shallow roots that can reach far to find sources of water. These trees also tend to grow around smaller creeks, and bunched up with other redwoods.
It might seem unintuitive that the redwood trees grow close together because being close together they have to fight for sunlight and other resources. But their intertwining roots grow interconnected and help the trees survive standing together. Additionally, these trees are adopted to surviving forest fires as their bark is extra thick. Sometimes the insides of the redwood trees are burned out, but the tree keeps growing because most of it is protected and survives.
Hiking in redwood forests is always fun and one thing is guaranteed: you will have shade from the sun. The redwoods are good on hot days when other parks with smaller trees may expose you to the sun. The hikes tend to be quieter as well, and a little bit more surreal due to being enshrouded in the shades of the trees.
Earlier during the past century and the century before that, residents of northern California used to cut down the redwood trees to build homes and use the wood for their needs. Many conservationists tried to stop them. The Muir Woods National Forest is here today due to such efforts. After the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 when many of the buildings in San Francisco burned down, the residents wanted to cut down much of the area that is now Muir Woods. It took tremendous effort and government intervention to stop the loggers from cutting down the trees.
For more information on California trees, see our growing list of California Trees.