This first week in August we took a trip along the Redwood Highway with a side excursion on the TJ Howell Botanical Drive along the Illinois River. Our route was south on US 101 to CA 197 east to US 199 along the Smith River to Selma, Oregon in the Illinois River Valley. I love this drive. The Redwoods growing along the highway as the road twists and turns through the huge tree trunks in the Jedediah Smith State Park are outstanding. The Smith River is close by and easily accessible.
The countryside transitions from the large mouth of the Smith River and coastal climate to the hot and dry inner mountain valleys where the Smith watershed ends and the Illinois River watershed begins. The day we were there the temperature swing was from 68 degrees along the coast to 98 degrees along the Illinois River. Vegetation transitions from lush Redwood forests to dry Pine forests. Of course this is fire season and care needs to be taken to avoid active fires and not start one yourself.
The McKinney and Yeti fires were the two big fire burning to the south in California. When looking at some of the images from the Howell Drive notice the smoke in the distance. Up along 8$ Mountain the images show the pine forest damage that has occurred in previous fires. This region suffered a catastrophic fire in 2002 then large areas were burned again in 2017 and 2018 this has resulted in a sparse forest regrowth with young trees having blackened trunks. It is hard to imagine what this area looked like prior to 2002. One indication of the severity is that just this month the Forest Service was able to reopen the trail from Medford to Gold Beach after 20 years of clearing and reconstruction work.
The images below are from US 199 looking down on the Smith River, then of the Illinois River and views from 8$ Mountain. This was an interesting trip and we had an enjoyable dayAs a side note, there is legislation likely to make it through the Senate to this year that would enlarge the Smith River National Recreation Area to include all the river down to the Pacific.
The first link is to this trip and I added a link at the bottom to our visit a few years ago to the Oregon Caves NM at Cave Junction. Enjoy and as always I appreciate comments and honor requests at email@example.com