Nothing really highlights just how massive a redwood or sequoia tree can be quite like fitting your family mini van right through the center of one. People have been doing it since before the automobile was even a major thing! Sure, they're kitschy and more than a little touristy, but they're a road trip classic-- and there's nothing quite like the moment of terror right before you find out if your car is gonna make it through in one piece... or if you'll need to call a tow truck to get back out again. Load up your (hopefully small-ish) car, grab a camera, and get ready for an All-American photo op at these drive-through tree tunnels!
Yosemite's Wawona Tunnel Tree: This was one of the first tunnel trees, and it was incredibly popular. The tunnel was formed in 1881 from a crack that a fire had already formed in the tree, and it was made by two brothers who were hired by the Parks Service. The intent of the tunnel was to capitalize on automobile tourism-- it was always meant to be driven through. Sadly, in 1969, the tree collapsed under the weight of a heavy snowfall. You can still visit it in Yosemite National Park's Mariposa Grove, as it was left where it fell. Or, you can go find the other hidden tree tunnel, only big enough to walk through, in the nearby Tuolumne Grove - Yosemite NP.
Tree Log Tunnel: The massive sequoias in Sequoia National Park also make great tunnels. This one, which crosses Crescent Meadow Drive, was carved into a tree that fell across the road after dying of natural causes. The tree was roughly 2,000 years old, and was 275 feet tall and 21 feet in diameter when it fell. The tunnel itself is 17 feet wide and 8 feet tall. Don't worry if your car won't fit-- there's a bypass you can take once you get your photo with the tree!
Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree: This massive (and by massive, I mean 315 feet tall!) tree in Leggett, CA was turned into a tunnel in the early 1930's as (yep!) a tourist attraction-- and it's still standing! The tree got its name from its distinctive branches, but the main attraction of the redwood is that you can drive through it. Cars that are 6'8" and smaller can squeeze through... but even if your car won't fit, you can still walk through and take pictures. Pro tip: get there early, or go during the off-season... otherwise, be prepared to wait in line!
Shrine Drive-Thru Tree: This drive-through tree is located a few miles south of Humboldt Redwoods State Park along the Avenue of Giants, so it's the perfect stop before or after visiting the park. After you take your car through, you can sit back and enjoy watching others try and fit their enormous SUVs through the tree, or you can explore the playhouses carved from redwood stumps on the property!
Klamath Tour-Thru Tree: This tunneled out tree was carved in 1976 from a redwood scarred by fire and shaken by storms-- but even after all that, it's still living! This tunnel is a little taller (an SUV can safely fit through), and even though it seems narrow, you'll be able to squeeze past. Good place for a bathroom break as well, since the restroom is in a hollowed out redwood log!
Just a Civil War beard enthusiast, writer at Roadtrippers, and aspiring astronaut reaching for the stars.