The Cantabrian Redwood Forest in Cabezón de la Sal is a rare sight in Spain. It’s full of the conifer trees you’d typically find in places like California. Its more than 800 specimens have an average height of 118 feet (36 meters)–and they’re still young. The trees, which were planted in the 1940s, will one day reach the same enormous stature as their American kin.
Though the trees are beautiful, they weren’t planted for aesthetic purposes. They’re here because when Spain was isolated during Francisco Franco’s reign, the country needed to ensure it had a solid supply of trees for timber, as the government didn’t want to resort to importing raw materials. The sequoias were chosen because their wood is of good quality, light, easy to work with, and has a lovely reddish hue.
Rather than felling these trees, the government opted to instead harvest faster-growing species such as pine or eucalyptus. That meant this redwood forest was able to thrive. And, because redwoods can live for more than 1,000 years, this forest is still incredibly young, meaning the trees will only continue to grow even larger and more impressive.
Know Before You Go
You can go by car from Santander and take the A-67 highway toward Torrelavega, then take the A-8 toward Oviedo and after the exit toward Comillas. Following the signs to Comillas, about 0.62 miles (one kilometer) from the exit, you'll find a sign on the left indicating the forest's location. There's a small parking area there as well.