By Nicholas Parent
Humbolt county is famous for its Northern California charm, with over 20 wineries, Victorian chalets, and a plethora of 19th century museums and military forts. But, it’s also famous for its intergalactic charm, having served as a major filming location for Star Wars. Specifically, as the lushly-forested planet of Endor, home of the Ewoks.
It’s no big secret that Ewoks are cute and cuddly. But, it was their badass tribal warrior traditions that allowed these sentient teddy bears to defeat an entire legion of terribly under-camouflaged Stormtroopers. George Lucas was so taken with California’s Redwood National Park that he wisely chose it as the home planet of these furry lilliputian warriors. And as Star Wars filming locations go, it’s a pretty epic one.
This sprawling arboreal paradise was in typical Star Wars fashion. There were no climates, no variations of latitude or terrain dependent on planetary coordinates. Endor=Forest, Tatooine=Desert, Hoth=Ice. There never seemed to be any middle ground. Except maybe for Naboo… but I digress. As such it couldn’t just be ANY forest world; it had to have the largest trees anyone had ever seen on it. Thus, Redwood National Park, was the perfect filming location!
Oh, and that amazing speeder bike chase was filmed on location as well. Anyone who’s seen the making of of Jedi knows that they hooked big rigs to swing the cameras through the trees, it looked like such a fun job.
But Redwood National Park isn’t merely a great place to film short fuzzy creatures, incongruously building primitive traps for giant AT-ST walkers, in less time than it takes most of us to make a sandwich; it also has a gorgeous scenic road winding its way through. The Redwood Highway RT-101. All along the highway are quaint hotels, motels, visitor centers and did I mention the hundreds-foot-high redwoods?
While in Humboldt County, I’d also recommend visiting Rockefeller Forest, as it has the largest single strand of old-growth redwoods in the world; so you can use that imagination of yours and pretend that you’re hunting down rebel scum on a Force-forsaken backwater world for the glory of the Empire! Or how about a ride through the Avenue of the Giants, for the full effect of Humboldt County’s cyclopean trees. This is located along California State Route 254.
It’s been a fantasy of mine since boyhood to pretend to fight the Empire on the forest moon of Endor, and thanks to Redwood National Forest that’s actually doable, I just hope they don’t mind my scout trooper uniform.
Until next time, May the Force be with you!