Have you ever seen a tree so large that you could actually drive through it? Beginning in the late 19th century, when railroads first made large-scale tourism west of the Rockies possible, a handful of enterprising individuals thought to capitalize on the sheer size and uniqueness of the big trees out West by carving tunnels through them.
In this list of the best tree tunnels to include on your next road trip, you'll find out about leaning giants, giant stumps nestled in pristine forests, some of which you can still drive through today. Even when not, you will be able walk through some of these giants.
Because California is home to giant sequoias as well as coastal redwoods, most tunnel trees can be found in the national parks and forests of the Golden State. Still, tunnel trees are hidden all along the West Coast, so keep reading below to discover the closest tunnel tree near you.
|Tree Name||Location||Drive Through||Suggested Road Trip|
|Chandelier Tree||Drive-Thru Tree Park||Yes||Fort Bragg to Chandelier Tree (45 miles)|
|Shrine Drive Thru Tree||Avenue of the Giants||Yes||Fort Bragg to Shrine Drive Thru Tree (85 miles)|
|Klamath Tour Thru Tree||Klamath||Yes||Crescent City to Klamath Tour Thru Three (20 miles)|
|Wawona and California Tunnel Trees||Yosemite National Park||No||Fresno to Wawona and California Tunnel Trees (65 miles)|
|Dead Giant Tunnel Tree||Yosemite National Park||No||Fresno to Dead Giant Tunnel Tree (100 miles)|
|Hercules Tree||Mountain Home Grove||No||Bakersfield to Hercules Tree (90 miles)|
|Tunnel Log Tree||Sequoia National Park||Yes||Visalia to Tunnel Log Tree (55 miles)|
|Giant Cedar Stump||Snohomish County||No||Seattle to Giant Cedar Stump (40 miles)|
|Pioneer Cabin Tree||Calaveras Big Trees State Park||No||Sacramento to Calaveras Big Trees State Park (100 miles)|
Note: Unfortunately, not all tunnel trees stand tall or are drivable today. However, we included them because of their historic importance in this list.
Please also keep in mind that the fees to visit or drive through these majestic giants were calculated at the time of writing.
1. Chandelier Tree
45 miles from Fort Bragg (1 hour 20 minutes)
What makes this tree special: With magnificent branches delicately balanced on each side of its enormous, 17-foot wide trunk, this tree is rightfully known as the “Chandelier.” It's known locally in Leggett as the Drive Thru Tree.
In addition to the tree itself, you'll find many ornate and occasionally humorous carvings and a gift shop with many locally sourced, hand-crafted treasures.
What type of tree is this: This redwood tree was purpose-built for tourists to enjoy.
A professional team of loggers cleared out a 6-foot by 6-foot 9-inch section of the tree in the late 1930s for people to drive through. The average American vehicle has grown considerably since then, so be sure your vehicle is compact enough to squeeze through this particularly elegant tree tunnel.
Can you still drive through this tree: Yes, though this tree has an even slighter clearance than the nearby Shrine Tree.
How to get there: From Fort Bragg, you'll drive north along the Pacific Coast Highway all the way to Leggett. Here, you'll take a right onto the rural CA Route 271 for about a mile until you get to the Drive-Thru Tree Park.
Places to visit nearby:
- Standish-Hickey State Recreation Area
- Smithe Redwoods State Natural Reserve
- Confusion Hill
- Pacific Star Winery
Our tips: Given the temperate weather of the north coast, you can visit this tunnel tree year-round. The tree is currently within the privately owned Drive-Thru Tree Park, which is open from 8:30am to 8:30 pm. The park only closes for Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
This is typically regarded as the most popular north coast tree tunnel, sometimes attracting 500 cars a day in the height of summer. Still, outside of the midday of a warm summer month, it would be unusual to have to wait in a very long line before getting your chance to drive through the Chandelier tree tunnel.
2. Shrine Drive Thru Tree
85 miles from Fort Bragg (2 hours)
What makes this tree special: Formed one hundred years ago inside a tree that is over two thousand years old, this tree tunnel is the oldest of the three tree tunnels within Northern California's Redwood Curtain.
It sits along the Redwood Highway, just south of Humboldt Redwoods State Park, and has been a popular roadside attraction since the days of the first road trippers riding a Model T in the 1920s.
What type of tree is this: This coastal redwood has a relatively narrow tree tunnel of 7 feet by 7 feet
Can you still drive through this tree: Yes, as long as you have a relatively compact vehicle, you can drive through this tree tunnel.
How to get there: The Shrine Drive Thru Tree is along the Avenue of Giants, which is CA-254 parallel to US-101 and the closest town is Myers Flat.
To get here from Fort Bragg, take the Pacific Coast Highway along the spectacular Mendocino Coast all the way to Leggett a little bit inland, where this highway merges with US-101.
Places to visit nearby:
- Humboldt Redwoods State Park
- Williams Grove Day Use Area
- Richardson Grove State Park
- Eureka, CA
- Ferndale Museum
Our tips: While it will add a bit of time, we think it is worthwhile to hop on the scenic Avenue of Giants just before Phillipsville and take this all the way until you reach the Shrine Drive Thru Tree.
If you're tight on time and can't drive the whole length on the Avenue of Giants, then you can stay on US-101 all the way until Meyers Flat, where you'll see an exit for the Avenue of Giants and signs for the tree.
This is a particularly good tunnel tree if you are on a trip with young children. Included in the entrance fee are a few other attractions, including adorable, two-story treehouses build from redwood stumps. They look like elven dwellings right out of a fairy tale.
3. Klamath Tour Thru Tree
20 miles from Crescent City (30 minutes)
What makes this tree special: Carved out in the late 1970s, this tree tunnel is the most recently built one along the US-101 corridor and is both larger and more affordable than the other two we've peeked at so far, making it popular with people who can't resist roadside lore.
It was even featured in a Geico commercial with that famous talking gecko you will most likely recognize!
What type of tree is this: This is yet another coastal redwood all the way up in Del Norte County. Perhaps due to its more recent creation, it is a more accommodating tunnel that is about 7 feet 4 inches wide by 9 feet and 6 inches tall.
Can you still drive through this tree: Yes, this tunnel is open and waiting for you to drive through it!
How to get there: This is a simple route south of Crescent City along US-101. Once you pass through the town of Klamath, but before you cross over the Klamath River, take the exit for CA Route 169 and then turn left onto Chapman Street, which quickly becomes Klamath Glen Road, to get to the Tour Thru Tree.
Places to visit nearby:
- Crescent Beach Overlook
- Battery Point Lighthouse and Museum
- Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park
- Klamath River Overlook
- Redwood National Parks
Our tips: The Klamath Tour Thru Tree is open year-round, and even when there isn't an attendant, you can pay by the honor system and leave $5 in a nearby receptacle.
The best thing about this tree tunnel is that you can drive a slightly larger vehicle, like a small truck or hatchback through it.
It is very close to Redwood National and State Parks and is a must-see attraction if you're planning a trip to these magically misty forests.
4. Wawona Tree and California Tunnel Tree
65 miles from Fresno (1 hour 25 minutes)
What makes this tree special: Located in Yosemite National Park's Mariposa Grove, the Wawona Tree was one of the most famous and recognizable tree tunnels in California. It was also one of the oldest, originally carved in 1881.
On the upside, you can still see this 2,100-year-old tree and get a picture with its beautiful, tendril-like roots that completely dwarf anyone standing underneath them.
You can also visit the California Tunnel Tree while in Mariposa Grove. This tree is located nearby Wawona Tree, and while you cannot drive through it, you can walk through it, which is a majestic experience on its own!
What type of tree is this: The Wawona Tree is a fallen giant sequoia. Its height was 227 feet, and its base width was 26 feet. You can find some great old-timey photos from the turn of the century of people taking horse-drawn carriages through it.
Can you still drive through this tree: No. Unfortunately, it fell over in 1969, meaning you can no longer drive through it.
How to get there: From Fresno, drive north along CA Route 41 towards Yosemite. You'll have to pay the entrance fee at the South Entrance to Yosemite in Mariposa just before taking a sharp right onto Mariposa Grove Road, which will take you to the beginning of the Big Trees Loop Trail.
Fee: Since you can't drive through this tree, there isn't a fee for this activity, but you will need a $35 entrance permit for Yosemite or an America the Beautiful Pass to visit both of the trees.
Places to visit nearby:
- Bass Lake
- Oakhurst, CA
- Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias
- Glacier Point and Taft Point
- Tunnel View
- Yosemite Valley
Our tips: Especially since you can't drive through it anymore, it's best to keep this tree on your radar for your next exciting Yosemite trip.
The Big Trees Loop Trail is a relatively easy 1.5-mile-long trail with minimal changes in elevation. Still, if you have any mobility issues, keep in mind that the Wawona Tree is not directly on the road.
Mariposa Grove Road is closed in the winter, so if you still want to see the tree in the colder months, you'd have to hike all the way from the Mariposa Grove Welcome Plaza along the Washburn Trail to get to the Big Trees Trail.
While you're hiking around Mariposa, take the Grizzly Grant Loop Trail to the California Tunnel Tree, which you can walk through.
5. Dead Giant Tunnel Tree
100 miles from Fresno (2 hours 40 minutes)
What makes this tree special: This is the grand-daddy of all West Coast tunnel trees! First carved out from a largely burnt-out tree in 1878, this is the oldest tunnel tree on the list and is currently located in Tuolumne Grove of Yosemite National Park.
What type of tree is this: This is another tunnel carved into a giant sequoia. Similar to the Big Cedar Stump up in Washington, it was already a stump when it was carved.
Can you still drive through this tree: No. While you cannot drive through the Dead Giant, you can still walk through it and take some fabulous pictures. The tree now lies on a hiking trail in Tuolumne Grove.
How to get there: From Fresno, take CA Route 41 North all the way to the South Entrance of Yosemite National Park, where it becomes Wawona Road. Drive all the way through Yosemite Valley and loop along the Big Oak Flats Road towards the entrance of the same name.
Once you take a right onto Tioga Pass Road, look out for Toulumne Grove Trail, the Dead Giant Tunnel Tree is within the first mile along that trail.
Fee: The tree does not have a specific fee associated with it, but to see it you'll have to buy an entrance pass for Yosemite National Park. The standard 7-day entrance pass costs $35 per vehicle.
Places to visit nearby:
- Scenic Golden Chain Highway
- Yosemite Valley View
- Tenaya Lake
- Tuolumne Meadows
Our tips: We've given directions from the nearest city, which is Fresno, but anyone coming from Sacramento or the San Francisco Bay Area would come via Groveland and will pass Tuolumne Grove about 10 minutes after entering the park via Big Oak Flats.
6. Hercules Tree
90 miles from Bakersfield (2 hours 5 minutes)
What makes this tree special: Deep in the southern Sierra, there's a tree that is a testament to the whimsy of 19th-century ranchers. And what's more, is that it is still alive!
The Hercules Tree, also known as Room Tree, isn't precisely a tunnel, but it is an impressive room that was carved out of this massive 23-foot-wide tree in 1897.
What type of tree is this: This is a giant sequoia that had been hollowed out to form a 12-foot wide and 9-foot tall chamber. It was operated as a gift store for several years before the land it was on became part of the Mountain Home State Demonstration Forest.
Can you still drive through this tree: No, as it was never intended as a tunnel tree. Still, you can step inside the mighty Hercules Tree and imagine what living inside such a tree might be like.
How to get there: From Bakersfield, take CA 65 North to Porterville, where you'll change on to CA Route 190 East. As you're passing Springville, look out for Wagner's Drive on your left. Take that road until Bear Creek Road comes up on your right, which you'll follow for about 21 winding miles.
The Hercules Tree is a short walk from Bear Creek Road, not far from the Frasier Mills Campground.
Fee: No. Unless you are planning on camping here, there are no fees to walk around these woods.
Places to visit nearby:
- Balch County Park
- Stagg Tree
- Sequoia National Park
- Trail of 100 Giants
- Lake Success
Our tips: In the same grove, you can visit some other impressive sequoias, like the Genesis Tree, which is the 7th largest tree in the world and the Methuselah Tree, which comes in at 27th, but has a striking bearing.
Check the most current road conditions before you go, as this is a fire-prone area in the summer and can get heavy weather in the winter, both of which can lead to road closures.
7. Tunnel Log Tree
55 miles from Visalia (1 hour 35 minutes)
What makes this tree special: Maybe you're getting the feeling that many of the giant sequoia tree tunnels are a thing of the past. Fret not! Close to the entrance of Sequoia National Park, you'll find the Tunnel Log Tree, which is still standing, well lying, with its tunnel intact.
What type of tree is this: As you may have guessed, this is a fallen sequoia tree, so it isn't quite the same as the other tunnel trees on this list. Still, it has a much wider clearance at 17 feet wide and 8 feet tall, meaning most cars and even many SUVs will be able to drive through it.
Can you still drive through this tree: Yes. It is close to the Moro Rock section of Sequoia, on Crescent Meadow Road.
How to get there: From the Central Valley town of Visalia, take CA Route 198 East past Exeter and Lake Kaweah all the way to the entrance of Sequoia National Park in Three Rivers.
Here the road becomes the Generals Highway, which you'll follow until you take a right on Crescent Meadow Road near the Giant Forest. The Tunnel Log Tree is about 1.5 miles along this road.
Fee: While there's no fee for driving through the tree itself, you will have to pay the entrance fee for Sequoia National Park. The standard fee is $35 for a 7-day pass.
Places to visit nearby:
- General Sherman Tree
- Moro Rock
- Kings Canyon National Park
- Lake Kaweah
Our tips: Many roads in Sequoia National Park are closed due to snow in the winter, including Crescent Meadow Road. It is usually open by late May every year and closes at various times in the winter, dependent on how much snowfall each year brings.
An additional photo op you can try here is standing on top of the log, just be extra careful when doing this during the busier summer months and stay mindful of traffic.
8. Giant Cedar Stump
40 miles from Seattle (45 minutes)
What makes this tree special: Venture north of the Golden State into Washington to behold the Giant Cedar Stump (also known as the Big Cedar Stump).
This tree was estimated to be over 1,250 years old and stood at around 200 feet tall before a fire damaged the interior in 1893, and it was created into a funky roadside attraction in 1916.
What type of tree is this: As its name implies, this is a stump of a giant western red cedar. It's about 20 feet across and has an adorable roof perched atop it like an oversized hat.
Can you still drive through this tree: No, though cars used to be able to drive through it. You can still stop by the Smokey Point rest area off Interstate 5 and walk through it.
How to get there: From Seattle, it is a straightforward drive north along Interstate 5 (I-5) all the way to the stump's current location in Smokey Point, Washington.
Fee: There's no fee to visit or pose with the Giant Cedar Stump, as it is located in a public-accessible rest stop.
Places to visit nearby:
- Hibulb Cultural Center & Natural History Preserve
- Portage Creek Wildlife Reserve
- Deering Wild Flower Acres
- Marysville Historical Society
- Evergreen Arboretum & Gardens
Our tips: This is a great place to include on a road trip through the verdant Pacific Northwest or when going between Seattle and Vancouver, Canada.
As a rest stop, you can plan on finding basic amenities here live water and restrooms.
Here's a fun fact; this stump used to be such a big draw that Crown Prince Olav and Princess Martha of Norway made sure to drive through it on their own 1939 road trip around the US.
9. Pioneer Cabin Tree
100 miles from Sacramento (2 hours)
What makes this tree special: The Pioneer Cabin Tree was located in the beautiful hidden gem of Calaveras Big Trees State Park. It was carved out in the 1880s after a lightning strike had partially hollowed out the tree.
Unfortunately, a massive storm in 2017 toppled the tree, and it mostly shattered upon impact, leaving very little of it left to see today. However, the state park it is located in is still a beautiful destination to visit the siblings of this tree once stood proudly amongst them.
What type of tree is this: This tree was a giant sequoia in one of the northernmost groves just east of the popular Gold-Country towns of Angel's Camp and Jamestown.
Can you still drive through this tree: No. Even before it finally fell over in 2017, the state park only allowed people to walk through the tree in recent years.
How to get there: Drive from Sacramento to Angel's Camp along CA Routes 99 South and 12 East. Once there, hop on CA Route 4 East to Calaveras Big Trees State Park.
Fee: Once again, while you can no longer drive through this tunnel tree, the entrance fee for the breathtaking Calaveras State Park, where it once stood, is only $10.
Places to visit nearby:
- Murphys Gold Rush Era Downtown
- Angel's Camp Museum
- New Melones Lake
- Sierra Nevada Logging Museum
- Mercer Caverns
Our tips: This park should be on every tree lover's radar! It's more accessible from Sacramento and the SF Bay Area and less crowded than Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks.
You can walk past where the Pioneer Cabin Tree was on the relatively accessible North Grove Loop Trail.