By Richard Stenger
EUREKA, Calif. – Besides enticing a herd of dinosaurs in search of a meal, one of the world’s most beautiful canyons has attracted travelers in search of the fountain of youth.
Fern Canyon is a hidden coastal gorge draped in amazing ferns and seasonal waterfalls in one of the most pristine ecosystems in California, Redwood National & State Parks, an International Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site.
The setting is primordial and magical, 80-foot sheer walls blanketed with many fern species, including elegant five-fingered ferns, which gently wave in the breeze, seemingly urging on hikers, and other rare types dating back millions of years.
Not surprisingly, the prehistoric atmosphere lent itself well to numerous scenes shot for Jurassic Park 2, The Lost World. The canyon hosted a horde of giant Stegosauruses, an angry Tyrannosaurus Rex, and, in a renowned chase sequence, a band of tiny carnivorous theropods who chase and snack on the bad guy: youtu.be/uPQwNE4OsIE.
Other Mesozoic moviemakers have filmed here, including BBC’s Walking with Dinosaurs and IMAX’s Dinosaurs Alive! In visual productions defined by scope and scale, the nearby coastal redwoods, the world’s tallest living life forms, were about the only things that could dwarf the giant lizards.
Inside the canyon, a creek purified in the redwood forest watershed above refreshes native Roosevelt elk, migrating salmon, rare giant Pacific salamanders and the occasional humans in search of immortality, according to one visiting journalist.
"This magnificent spot was recommended to me by a group of hippy nomads,” blogged Tom Guilmette, an outdoor videographer based in Boston. “I was told that the water here was so pure that once it touches your skin you will live forever."
True or not, the surrounding ecosystems have nearly attained a state of immortality.
"Redwood forests, as we know them today, have been present in California for about 20 million years. They represent a unique and beautiful relic flora from the days when dinosaurs roamed the earth," said John B. Dewitt of the Save-theRedwoods League.
Whether as a short walk from the parking area, a daylong hike through the redwoods, or an overnight camping trip on the nearby beach, the unforgettable Fern Canyon can be experienced in different ways. To find out more, go to www.redwoods.info/showrecord.asp?id=476.