image from daytrippin.com
If there is one thing about California, it’s that it’s probably the American Capital of Attractions, Vacation Spots and Tourist Traps. They seem to have everything to see, the San Diego Zoo, Disneyland, Knott’s Berry Farm and that is not including the famous beaches and cities. Good Gravy, Cali, don’t hog all the tourists. You’re soon gonna make the 49 other states scrape the barrel to get some visitors.
Anyway, enough complaining, back to business. There is one particular Roadside Oddity in the Golden State in the town of Klamath in the Del Norte County that I find of great interest, a strange woodland known as “The Trees of Mystery.” Awesome Name, right?
image from digital-eel.com
The park, now claiming to be the oldest redwood nature attraction, first opened in 1931 by Carl Bruno probably hoping to expand the regions economy beyond logging (a bit ironic as we will later get to). It was originally a fishing camp but evolved into a roadside oddity/amusement park/natural preserve named “Wonderland Redwood Park” and later “Kingdom of Trees.” It got its current name in 1946 when, returning from military service, Ray Thompson bought out the park. His family has run the place since. The original attractions are various trees growing in unique and unusual ways. They include the…
- Cathedral Tree: Nine trees growing out of a large stump in a semicircle. Easter services and wedding are held here each year.
- Candelabra Tree: A once mighty Sequoia that fell over. Still not dead, it’s branches grow to the sky like like candles.
- Octopus Tree: Lots of roots going this way and that way. You can even crawl underneath the tree!
image from treesofmystery.net
Trust me, there are too many of them to talk about right now. We need to address the starring attraction of the Trees of Mystery: the Lord of Lumberjacks himself, in person, Paul Bunyan with Babe the Blue Ox! Standing at almost fifty feet with ax in hand, Paul waves as visitors come to visit his wooden wonderland. He can tell jokes and riddles, chew the fat with folks and predict the weather (if the trees are all bent in any direction, then its windy!) Could this be due to a voice actor in a hidden room? Nah, I’m pretty sure that it’s Paul for real. The Lumberjack Giant lumbered in when Ray first got ahold of the property. He was first made out of paper-maché but fell apart within a year due to rain. I mean seriously! Did anyone not see that coming? Luckily smarter heads prevailed and Paul has been refitted with more sturdy material. It’s not completely Bunyan without Babe, of course, as the Big Blue Beef was added in 1951. He would snort and blow smoke out of his nostrils when he first came but has been on better behavior now due to scaring the kiddies.
These, of course, are not the only attractions available. There is the Trail of Tall Tales full of chainsaw carved wooden sculptures. Many of them tell stories of Paul and his lumber camp, but some are original creations. You can take a ride on the Sky Trail gondola. If you’re a nature lover you can take a walk in the Wilderness Trail for a walk in the beauty and majesty of the woods for the sake of it, nothing special just a normal forest. At the gift shop there is the six roomed End of the Trail Museum, containing a lifetime of collected Native American artifacts from across the continental United States. The museum is free of charge for all visitors to the Trees of Mystery.
Nearby is the charming, “vintage,” Motel Trees. These 23 rooms are all individually forest themed with details and beauty. Adjacent to it is the Forest Cafe for a hearty good ‘ole fashion bite to eat. Here you can have your dinner under the Klamath River or under the sky of the Redwoods…. well, OK, its individually themed dining rooms, but they are amazing. I hope they serve up a good stack of pancakes.
image from tripadvisor.com
Oh man, this is too cool for me to hold in. Years ago as a kid, I remember visiting the Trees of Mystery. I can still remember seeing Paul Bunyan. For quite some time after that I was enthusiastic with tall tales especially with the mythos of the lumberjack giant. You can look up more information on the website here at https://www.treesofmystery.net. But if you have seen the film Axe Giant pleas don’t bring it up. I doubt Paul is very flattered at the portrayal of him in that movie.