During the early 1920s, promoters of California’s tourism industry devised a clever way to entice visitors to see the captivating beauty of the redwood forests—cut a tunnel through a redwood and charge people a fee to drive their cars through to the other side. It was a great photo opportunity that quickly caught on. In time, there were drive-thru trees, drive-on trees, walk-through trees and even step-thru stumps. Three trees with open trunks remain, one near Humboldt Redwoods State Park on Hwy 101. All are privately owned, charge a nominal entrance fee and are open daily year-round.
The Shrine Drive-Thru Tree is one of California’s oldest tourist attractions and is located in Myers Flat off Hwy 101 on the Avenue of the Giants. It is said that teamsters in the late 1800s could pull their coaches through the tree. The tree has a diameter of 21 feet. When you stand inside you can see the natural tunnel, hollowed out by fire generations ago, and you can see the sky above. Your entry fee into the Shrine Tree Park also admits you to the Step-Thru Stump, Drive-On Tree, Rings of History, two-story tree houses for children and a gift shop.
The Tour-Thru Tree in Klamath is 90 feet tall (the top of the tree was blown off in a storm) and the tunnel was bored out in 1976. The redwood is over 700 years old. There is a picnic table as well as a modern restroom uniquely located inside an eight-foot diameter redwood trunk. The Tour-Thru tunnel measures over seven feet high and over nine feet wide, large enough for a van. However, due to the steep grade and a sharp curve on the way to the tree site, trailers and large motor homes are prohibited past the tollbooth. To find this tree, use the Terwer Valley exit off Hwy 101 in the town of Klamath.
The Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree, located at 67402 Drive Thru Tree Road in Leggett was hollowed out in the 1930s. The tree itself stands 315 feet high and has a diameter of 21 feet. The tunnel measures about six-feet wide by nine-feet tall. It has ample room for a standard car. However, some vehicles can be too wide. After you drive through the tree, enjoy a picnic, view the duck pond, visit the gift shop for a souvenir or wander through some of the park’s 250 acres of redwood groves.
13078 Avenue of the Giants, Myers Flat(google maps)