A date with Drive-Thru Tree

I turned another year old last month and I celebrated not with gifts and cakes but a nice long drive into some Redwoods. My birthday wish was to go...
Drive thru tree / Chandelier Tree, Legget, CA

I turned another year old last month and I celebrated not with gifts and cakes but a nice long drive into some Redwoods. My birthday wish was to go see some redwood trees and having been to Roaring Camp and Big Basin earlier, we chose to drive north this time. Our POIs included a drive thru tree, a house in a tree trunk and a redwood totem pole.

As we left the San Francisco Bay area, we took US 101 and drove all the way north till we hit the junction of 101 and Highway 1.

Leggett is the name of the place where the famous CA 1 — Californians prefer to simply call it Highway 1 — (the highway that runs through California’s Pacific coast) begins. Leggett might be a very small town but it is famous not just because it is the meeting place of two major highways. It is also the home of a well-known tree called the Chandelier Tree and a Totem Pole that is said to be the largest free standing totem pole.

Drive thru tree / Chandelier Tree, Legget, CA

The Chandelier Tree was our main attraction for the day. This Redwood tree is a tall tree with a tunnel that allows a vehicle the size of an SUV drive through it. For those who are not familiar with Redwood Trees, this variety of trees also known as the Coast Redwood is among the biggest trees in the world and can be found on the west coast of the United States. It is also considered to be California’s State Tree.

This redwood tree in Legget, California, which is called the Chandelier Tree is around 315 feet tall and boasts of a diameter of 21 feet. The tunnel I mentioned earlier was hewn out in the 1930s and is almost 7 ft high and 6 ft wide.

Now that is a tunnel that everyone wants to try driving through. When we got to the park it was already afternoon and the mercury had risen to 105 (degree Fahrenheit) and there weren’t too many cars waiting to drive through. By the time we walked around, stepped into the souvenir store and picked up some ice cream, there was a long line of cars waiting to go through the famous drive-through-tree and take a few pictures, maybe.

Drive thru tree / Chandelier Tree, Legget, CA
A car (left ) and an SUV (right) make their way through the Chandelier Tree

This tree lends the park in which it stands, its name – Drive-Thru Tree Park. I wondered why the tree was called Chandelier Tree and why not simply the ‘drive-through tree’. They say it is because the branches of the tree give it a Chandelier-like look. Now, to see that, you’ll have to stand on your head and look up at the tree (or take a picture of it and hold it upside down). 🙂

Drive thru tree / Chandelier Tree, Legget, CA
Does it look like a chandelier now?


Directions Some navigation systems may not show ‘Drive Thru Tree Road’ so if you are driving from the SF Bay Area or Southern California, take 101 North all the way up till you reach the place where CA 1 joins 101. Take a left on to Highway 1, take the Drive-thru Tree Road exit on the left (You’ll see the board which says Welcome to Legget.) The Drive-thru Tree park is 2 miles down the road on the right.

Note The ‘Welcome to Legget’ board also marks a Restaurant and Market but both places were locked and barred when we visited. Moreover it looked like they had been shut down for quite a long time. So you might want to carry your own food. (You’ll find ice-cream at the gift shop) There are picnic tables and restrooms in the park.

Other Redwood attractions mentioned in this post
Roaring Camp – A railway ride into a Redwood forest
Big Basin – The woods are lovely, dark and deep (pictures)

Drive Thru Tree Park’s Official Site 

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62 Comments on this post.
  • Panchali
    21 September 2012 at 8:53 am

    Firstly, Belated Happy Birthday to you, Divya.
    The tree is intriguing, removal of vital roots have interestingly not stunned its growth! Very interesting indeed!! Thanks for sharing…

    • dNambiar
      22 September 2012 at 1:41 am

      Thank you so much!! xoxo!
      Yeah, that's an interesting tree. I've good two more similar posts coming up; of weird but cool things that people have created out of redwood trees.
      Thank you for visiting again. Have a superb weekend.

  • R Niranjan Das
    21 September 2012 at 8:56 am
    • R Niranjan Das
      21 September 2012 at 8:57 am

      Belated Happy birthday. May you have a travel filled year ahead. Go sailor!!

    • dNambiar
      22 September 2012 at 1:43 am

      Humungous, alle? 🙂

      Thank you so much, Niranjan for the wishes. That's exactly the kind of year I wanna have. 🙂

  • Abhinav R
    21 September 2012 at 2:54 pm

    Happy Birthday to you 🙂
    'Drive thru tree' – the idea is very interesting! Nice post.

    • dNambiar
      22 September 2012 at 1:45 am

      Thanks Abhinav. Crazy idea but yeah — it is interesting. 🙂

  • Arti
    22 September 2012 at 8:30 am

    Very Interesting! That was a perfect birthday gift only a travel fanatic could have asked for. That tree indeed looks like a chandelier, it must surely be something to drive through that! Belated Happy Birthday, wish you all the joys and many more travels ahead of you 🙂

    • dNambiar
      23 September 2012 at 3:00 am

      It's supposed to look like a upside down Chandelier. I thought they could have just called it Drive Thru Tree or Tunnel Tree or something. 🙂
      The idea of a drive-through tree is fun nevertheless.
      Thank you for the wishes Arti.

  • Nona
    22 September 2012 at 10:02 am

    🙂 Nice. I remember doing this.

    • dNambiar
      23 September 2012 at 3:01 am

      You seem to have done it all in CA. Cool. 🙂

  • Meoww
    22 September 2012 at 1:00 pm

    oooh what a sweet birthday drive 🙂
    Love the scenic Highway 1!
    Happy Birthday DN 🙂 May you have many more wonderful drives to wonderful places!

    • dNambiar
      23 September 2012 at 3:02 am

      Thank you so much, dear Meoww. 🙂

  • Pattu Raj
    22 September 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Lovely post. Thanks.

    • dNambiar
      23 September 2012 at 3:02 am

      Thank YOU. 🙂

  • KayEm
    22 September 2012 at 9:58 pm

    We have a tree down by the riverside (in NZ) that has a natural hole carved into it that looks like the trees in children's books where elves and goblins and fairies dwell and I absolutely love it. Your drive through tree which must be at least four times the height would, I think, blow me away. What a superb birthday gift.

    • dNambiar
      23 September 2012 at 3:26 am

      That sounds very cute. Not very far away from the Drive Thru Tree Park there is another tree (also a Redwood tree, I believe) that houses a little house in its trunk. We missed that place. :(.
      I'm sure you'll like it. Check this out (found this on YouTube – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Of9g2E0FHHU)
      KayEm, thank you for coming by. 🙂

  • Bikramjit
    23 September 2012 at 10:51 am

    You know this is a childhood dream to see the Great Redwood trees of california, WE had this question in a quiz and since then I have always wanted to see it .. God willing one day Will make it to the place 🙂


    • dNambiar
      24 September 2012 at 6:01 pm

      Yeah those trees are a sight to see. Gosh, they grow so tall.
      I wish that wish of yours comes true, Bikram 🙂

  • Krishna
    24 September 2012 at 12:35 am

    Wow wonderful.. .

    • dNambiar
      24 September 2012 at 6:02 pm

      Pretty amazing, right! 🙂

  • Rahul Bhatia
    24 September 2012 at 6:58 am

    Belated Happy Birthday and wishing you many more!! Your each post tempts me to see these amazing things which I have not seen. A big thanks and keep sharing all such mysteries, Divya:)

    • dNambiar
      24 September 2012 at 6:05 pm

      Thank you so much, Mr. Bhatia. I'm so glad to be showing you these places that I've been visiting. I hope you'll get to see these sights yourself sometime 🙂

  • Shalu Sharma
    24 September 2012 at 8:07 pm

    I must say that I am very impressed with this tree. Quite fascinating.

    • dNambiar
      26 September 2012 at 7:10 pm


  • Ghazala Hossain
    25 September 2012 at 6:54 am

    Happy belated Birthday and many more blogging years to you..!
    Absolutely loved the tree..! Such an exciting place to go to 😀

    • dNambiar
      26 September 2012 at 7:11 pm

      Thank you so much, Ghazala. 🙂

  • Roshan Radhakrishnan
    25 September 2012 at 10:15 am

    Dear God.. that last pic was something else altogether !! Belated birthday wishes !

    • dNambiar
      26 September 2012 at 7:12 pm

      I'm not even going to ask you what you see, Doc. :D.
      Thank you so much for the wishes, Roshan.

  • Desi Traveler
    25 September 2012 at 11:25 am

    nice post, i remember visiting Yosemite national park, band seeing some giants but this one seems to be the grandfather of them all…

    • dNambiar
      26 September 2012 at 7:15 pm

      I'm yet to visit Yosemite. I know, that's too bad, right? 🙂
      I'm sure you loved the place. Do you have Yosemite posts on your blog. I should come by and check out all your posts.
      Btw, Welcome here Desi Traveler. I hope to see you here more often.

  • Saru Singhal
    25 September 2012 at 5:00 pm

    Belated happy birthday dear and I guess your way sounds more fun. Even I am planning a trip around my bday. The place looks amazing and lets see, I wish to hit west coast this time…

    • dNambiar
      26 September 2012 at 7:16 pm

      Thank you so much, Saru. When's your birthday?
      Yes, it's time for the West Coast, I'm sure. 🙂 Have fun.

  • magiceye
    26 September 2012 at 6:41 am

    Such a beautiful way to celebrate a birthday! Belated wishes to you!! Must have been a fascinating experience!!

    • dNambiar
      26 September 2012 at 7:18 pm

      🙂 Thank you so much, Magiceye. That WAS a good birthday.
      I was awed by the size of that tree trunk.

  • jaish_vats
    26 September 2012 at 9:03 am

    I have read about this tree in a Social Studies chapter as a kid. First time seeing pictures of it. And when you said Chandlier I thought 'May be the Sequoia is different' and then you yourself explained that its the same. Lovely pics Divya!

    • dNambiar
      26 September 2012 at 7:26 pm

      They grow to be really huge and tall. There's plenty here along the Pacific Coasts. In fact it's said to be California's State Tree. Gorgeous, aren't they?
      Thank you, Jaish. 🙂

  • AmitAag
    27 September 2012 at 4:49 am

    Amazing! Belated happy birthday Divya:) What a grand birthday wish you had…you would not settle for ordinary trees:) Amen! God is great! Long live the Drive Thru Tree:)

    • dNambiar
      27 September 2012 at 5:15 pm

      Thanks Amit.
      Haha! You find them aplenty around here.
      Long live Drive Thru Tree! I hope a lot more generations get to see it.

  • Rajesh
    28 September 2012 at 6:59 am

    OMG! I have not seen anything like this before.

    • dNambiar
      29 September 2012 at 12:21 am

      Pretty interesting, right? Maybe on your next CA visit you should check this out, Rajesh. 🙂

  • ashok
    30 September 2012 at 12:27 pm

    amazing stuff

    • dNambiar
      30 September 2012 at 11:58 pm

      Isn't it! 🙂

  • Haddock
    3 October 2012 at 5:03 pm

    Had seen the picture of this long back when I was a kid and at that time I thought "Wow a tree big enough that you could drive your car through" and now I see the picture again and think "Wow a tree big enough that you could drive your car through"
    Well one may think that I am crazy, but the fact is that I love nature and will be always fascinated by it 🙂

    • dNambiar
      3 October 2012 at 10:30 pm

      I was fascinated too. When I was little there was this over-a-century old mango tree near our ancestral home that was SO huge; it needed four to five people to hold hands around it to cover the circumference of the truck. And I thought no tree could be bigger than that one, which was locally pretty famous. But I was wrong! Look at this one above :).
      Thanks for dropping in again, Haddock. Stay crazy about nature. Don't let that fascination die. 🙂

  • Kishan P
    5 October 2012 at 4:34 am

    I remember seeing this tree on TV a loooong time ago. Btw I still dont see the Chandelier in there 🙂

    And belated Birthday Wishes and wish you many more long drives…

    • dNambiar
      8 October 2012 at 11:01 pm

      I'm not sure I saw much of chandelier there, or maybe on one side it did seem a little bit like one. 🙂

      Thanks a ton, Kishan. 🙂

  • Indrani
    10 October 2012 at 2:30 am

    Belated birthday greetings to you!
    That journey is a dream for me. 🙂
    Great shots.

    • dNambiar
      11 October 2012 at 11:33 pm

      Thank you so much, Indrani.

  • ilakshee
    11 October 2012 at 11:39 am

    I read about them as a kid in school. Happy to see it again through your experience.

    • dNambiar
      11 October 2012 at 11:34 pm

      :)Nice to see you here, Ilakshee. 🙂
      The trees are really, really tall.

  • Siddhartha Joshi
    15 October 2012 at 3:39 pm

    This is great! I always saw the image of the car passing through the tree and its nice to see it again here 🙂

    • dNambiar
      16 October 2012 at 12:45 am

      If you plan to do the whole Highway 1 drive, you should go see this tree, Siddharth. It's at this place called Legget that Highway 1 starts (or ends). And the first 15 miles of highway one is through Redwood forests before it hits the coast.
      You've not been doing much travelling these days, eh? I sure miss your posts and pictures.

  • bhargavshandilya
    19 October 2012 at 1:46 am

    awesome , It must have been an amazing experience 🙂

    • dNambiar
      19 October 2012 at 4:18 am

      It was an amazing sight, more than anything. 🙂

  • Jitaditya
    23 October 2012 at 11:53 am

    Have always had a fascination for such gigantic trees…

    Remember one in granny's village which was cut down later…

    Although these ones seem to be even taller and imposing… would visit them someday…

    • dNambiar
      24 October 2012 at 1:01 am

      Fascinating they are. These redwood trees can get really huge. You should visit them, Jitaditya.
      I see I have some Durga Puja pics to see. I'm off to your blog. 🙂

    • Jitaditya
      24 October 2012 at 7:10 am

      he he…
      wait for some more exiting stuff in the next month or so…

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