Coastal redwoods
(Photo/Seiji Ishii)

Visit World’s Tallest Tree, Get a $5K Fine and 6 Months in Jail

Starting this month, Redwood visitors seeking to see the tallest tree in the world will risk severe penalties.

California’s Redwood National Park is famous for one primary reason: the very tall trees that live there. Now, visiting the tallest one of the bunch could land you a lot of trouble.

The park plans to fine and imprison anyone caught visiting Hyperion, the world’s tallest tree, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. Anyone who goes near the tree or the closed area around it faces a $5,000 fine and 6 months in jail.

In a statement, Redwood park officials said that surrounding the 380-foot-tall tree with a closed area has not stopped visitors from making the trek to see it. As a result, the habitat has suffered environmental degradation, including trash and human waste recovered by employees.

“As a visitor, you must decide if you will be part of the preservation of this unique landscape — or will you be part of its destruction?” the park said. “There is no trail to Hyperion. Despite the difficult journey, increased popularity due to bloggers, travel writers, and websites of this off-trail tree has resulted in the devastation of the habitat surrounding [it].”

The document goes on to list the coordinates of the closed area and address various FAQs, including, “But I am only one person, I won’t make an impact.”

Redwood officials pointed out how fragile the trees are from the ground despite their impressive size. The tall trees put down surprisingly shallow roots — only about 12 feet below the ground on average, according to the park. That means soil compaction from excessive hiking can make a big difference.

The document also downplays how impressive the tree itself is. According to the park, Hyperion is so tall and the grove around it so dense that it’s hard to get a sense of it from the ground. And because you can’t fly a drone anywhere in Redwood National Park, you can’t check out the canopy that way.

Hyperion might be the tallest tree in the world, but it’s not the biggest. That distinction belongs to General Sherman in California’s Giant Forest of Sequoia National Park.

“There are hundreds of trees on designated trails that are more impressive to view from the tree’s base,” the park concluded.

mist falls waterfall and low river in Kings Canyon National Park
See the Redwoods: 7 Best Hikes in Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park
Looking for the best hikes in Sequoia and Kings Canyon — two of California's most gorgeous, redwoods-covered parks? We've got you covered.  Read more…

Sam Anderson
By

Sam has roamed the American continent to follow adventures, explore natural wonders, and find good stories. After going to college to be a writer, he got distracted (or saved) by rock climbing and spent most of the next decade on the road, supporting himself with trade work. He's had addresses in the Adirondack Mountains, Las Vegas, and somehow Kansas, but his heart belongs in the Texas hill country.