This was a major highlight of our trip so far. We picked up our Auto Tour brochure that takes you through the 32 mile stretch that runs parallel to Hwy 101. This route was originally built as a stagecoach and wagon road in the 1880s but today it is an alternative to the Hwy and is known as State Route 254. The free Auto Tour map gives you the highlights and some fun facts about what you are seeing as you drive. There are some really great hikes on the map but sadly it was pouring rain and neither Matt or I wanted to get soaked. We did make a few short stops to enjoy the giant redwoods and they did a pretty good job of keeping us as dry as possible.
We pulled over to visit the Avenue of the Giants only "Drive Thru" tree. The Shrine Tree was hollowed out by fire more than 100 years ago. The tunnel through the tree was created by the fire and has since been widened to allow vehicles to drive though. To visit the tree you need to pay a small fee and try to ignore the super touristy vibe. I'm sure in the spring and summer it's packed with a line of cars but we had it all to ourselves. Matt flew the drone up through the tree and out the top, which was very cool, but the vibe of the place really didn't really gel with the homage to ancient trees that is the Avenue of The Giants.