Nestled deep in the Santa Cruz Mountains, you’ll find yourself dwarfed by colossal, towering redwood trees.
Only 4 to 5 percent of California’s old-growth redwoods remain—most in preserves or parks like Big Basin Redwoods State Park.
That’s where I found State Parks Ranger Alex Takone standing in front of an enormous tree called "the father of the forest.”
"We've got giants like this guy behind me that are showing you what all of the Santa Cruz Mountains used to look like if you were here 200 years ago," said Takone.
The park, California’s oldest, was set aside in 1902 to protect the area’s flora and fauna in its natural state. Today people come from all over the world to witness the majesty.
"One and a half million people visit this park every year,” noted Takone.
People come to camp and to hike, all the while enjoying the area’s wildlife, a few deep forest waterfalls and of course, the trees.
"Most people come for our biggest stars, our old-growth redwood trees," said Takone. "Some of them are over 300 feet tall here in the park. The tallest trees in the world south of San Francisco grow right here in Big Basin."
These gargantuan trees serve a major and necessary role in the area’s natural environment as several species of animals depend on them to survive.
"The scientific name of these redwood trees is Sequoia Sempervirens and 'sempervirens' means ever-green or 'ever living' and these trees are very much ever living, said Takone. "They can live to be over 2,000 years old just by themselves."
When one ancient tree dies, a new family of trees often springs from its roots.
It’s hard to enjoy the park without a sore neck as visitors often find themselves staring straight up.
I asked those that I met about their experience.
"The size of the trees-- you think you kind of have an idea, but once you see it in person, it's just awe-inspiring, it's beautiful,” said Richard Lavoie, visiting from Fredericksburg, VA.
Bruce Hart of Calgary, Alberta in Canada added, “They're just such giants. They make you feel so small. Kind of puts a different perspective on how we live in this world. I think it's a treasure for the whole world!"
With such an amazing collection of these enormous trees, it certainly makes this area one of the Wonders of the Central Coast.