Post Summary: Things To Do In Redwood National and State Parks in California
Did you know some of the tallest trees in the world are located here, in the Coastal Redwoods of California?
It’s true! Coastal Redwood trees can grow up to 300 feet tall, and the Redwood National and State Parks are home to some of the most impressive trunks in the world.
Tall trees can be enough of a draw to plan a road trip to Northern California alone, but there is still so much to do and see here!
In this post, we’re sharing some of the best things to do in the Redwoods, including fern-covered canyons, easy redwood hikes, and where to go driving through the Redwoods.
Let’s get exploring!
Is your drive through the Redwoods part of a larger trip? You will love these articles!
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Driving Through The Redwood National Park
The Redwood National and State Parks are famously known for their tall, spectacular trees.
Here you can find tons of camping spots, gorgeous hikes, and lots of scenic byways.
We were hoping to camp in the actual National Park in a campground like Jedidiah Smith or Mill Creek but we learned a hard lesson – these spots book out MONTHS in advance! If you are planning to spend a good amount of time in the Redwoods, book months in advance!
We drove through two sections – Redwood National + State Parks (nearby Crescent City) and the Humboldt Redwoods State Park.
They each had a scenic route with pullouts ever so often. We took these roads and enjoyed our views of tall trees and rich green forests. These scenic byways have much slower speed limits than the freeways and add a few extra hours to your drive, but it’s worth it in our opinion!
10 Things To Do In The Redwood National and State Parks
1. Go Camping Among The Redwoods
One of the most iconic activities in the Redwood National Park is sleeping under the canopy of these giant trees! Luckily, there are plenty of campgrounds to choose from, developed AND backcountry. Here are some of our favorite places to camp in the Redwood National and State Parks:
- Patrick’s Point State Park
- Jedidiah Smith State Park
- Gold Bluffs Beach Campground
- Mill Creek Campground
- Elk Prairie Campground
Looking for a more remote camping experience in the Redwoods? Try backcountry camping! Click here to discover some of the parks most popular hike-in sites. Backcountry camping takes a little more preparation, so we recommending brushing up on these articles:
2. See The Elk Refuge
One of the greatest success stories about consevation in Humboldt County is the Roosevelt Elk population. Historically, they have been heavily hunted – almost to extinction. After a major effort to introduce them back into the area, they are growing rapidly in numbers and can be seen in a few sections of the parks.
The most popular areas to see the Roosevelt Elk are in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Elk Prairie on the Newton Drury Scenic Parkway is a popular place to watch them, with a visitor center and trailheads nearby. You can also see them at Elk Meadow, right off Highway 101 on Davidson Road. Here, there is plenty of parking and spots for viewing the elk.
In all places, make sure to keep your distance! These are wild and unpredictable animals, and it’s best to not spook them.
Redwoods Photographers: If you are hoping to snap a few pictures of the wildlife here, make sure to bring a zoom lens. We recommend a 10-400mm or a 70-200 to get the sharpest image from far away!
3. Drive On Old Forest Roads
Among the Redwood National Forest, there are several opportunities to take smaller forest roads to a quiet and adventurous drive among the tall trees. One of our favorite scenic drives? Cal Barrel Road.
Cal-Barrel Road is 3 miles of a rocky, dirt path that can only handle one car going one way. We drove about a mile or so stopping often to take photos of the huge trees that surrounded us. This road was incredible. Cal-Barrel is a place where the trees stand so tall you can’t help but be intimidated.
Note: This road is an unpaved, narrow road. No RV’s, trailers or long vehicles are allowed to enter Cal Barrel Road.
4. Drive On Bald Hill During Sunset
Bald Hill Road is a beautiful drive on the winding foothills, in the center of the Coastal Redwoods. Along the way there, make sure to stop at incredible hiking trails like Tall Trees Grove, Lady Bird Johnson Grove, Dolason Prairie, and Lyons Ranch.
The best time to visit Bald Hill Road is in the late springs and early summer. This is when you can see fantastic wildflower displays!
5. Take The Scenic Route On The Avenue of Giants
The Avenue of Giants is one of the most famous and popular scenic routes in Redwood National Park. The route is 31 miles long, and is an alternative to Highway 101. Here, you can spend an entire morning meandering the route, with several stopping points, hiking trails, and small towns along the way.
You can also download or pick up an informational booklet talking about points of interest along the way. Keep you eye out for those numbered
6. More Scenic Byways in Redwood National Park
The Redwoods are full of incredible scenic byways!
Lost Coast Loop: Some of the most untouched beachfront can be found on this coastal drive. This winding road is often referred to as “The Wildcat” or Mattole Road, which rises and falls with the coastal hills and incredible views.
Highway 36: Highway 36 is a popular route with motorcyclists. Drive through the small towns and farms to Duzen County Park and Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park. Spend some time exploring the forests, and some secrete watering holes too!
Newton Drury Parkway: Drive through the Redwood National l& State Parks on this tall tree covered byway. It’s a slower route than Highway 101, but these 10 miles are packed with amazing stops, like Elk Prairie, Big Tree Wayside, Ah Pah trail, and lots of marked trailheads. Come here with the whole family!
Trinidad to Patrick’s Point: This 6.5-mile byway consists of a rough and bumpy road, but the views of the beach are some of the best in the whole county! Stop at small (but epic) beaches like Luffenholtz Beach and Houda point to capture some pictures of the beautiful California coast. Have a picnic lunch at Patrick’s Point!
7. Explore Fern Canyon Trail
Fern Canyon Trail is exactly what it sounds like! This short “lolipop” trail is about 1-mile long, with a fun and fairly easy walk through the bottom of a coastal canyon.
Come prepared to get your feet wet, especially if you are visiting in the spring or early summer! There is an active creek that runs along the canyon floor.
Driving Note: The trailhead to Fern Canyon requires a 20-minute drive on a narrow, gravel road. It also requires two river crossings, which may be impassible driving times of heavy rain. Make sure to get the latest status of the road on the Redwood National Park websites – they are very good about keeping it up to date.
8. Explore Fun Stops At Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
If you are visiting Redwood National and State Parks with your family, we definitely recommend paying a visit to Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park! This area holds a lot of some of the most popular attractions in the area, including huge trees, and scenic route, and incredible hikes (like Fern Canyon!)
On the southern side of Newton Drury Scenic Byway, you can stop at the visitor center to pickup brochures and talk to a ranger about recommended hiking trails. ou can also stop to watch Elk in Elk Prairie, and stop to check out Big Tree Wayside.
As you continue driving north, there are several trails to discover just off of the road! Spend some time chatting with a ranger to find the one that is right for your group, and simply pull over at the trailhead to begin!
9. Endert’s Beach
Endert’s Beach is a beautiful beach in the Redwood National Park, perfect for hiking, tide pool viewing, and photograph. The hike is an easy half-mile to the beach starting at the southern end of Enderts Beach Road.
The journey takes you along the coastal cliffs, and eventually descents down to the oceanfront, about a 200-foot drop in elevation. Along the way, you can check out the interpretive signs, sharing information about vegetation and tidepools.
Safety Notice: This is not a swimming beach! The strong waves, swift current, and cold water are unforgiving, and it’s best to keep your distance!
10. Hikes in The Redwood National Forest
One of our favorite ways to explore the Redwood National Park is by strolling among the giant trees in the forest! These are among some of the tallest trees in the world, so spend some time scouting out a few trails to explore before you continue on your Pacific Coast Highway road trip.
- Tall Trees Grove
- Boy Scout Tree Trail
- Lady Bird Johnson Grove Trail
- Stout Grove Trail
- Simpson-Reed Trail
Have you been to the Redwood National Park? What was your favorite part/stop along the way? Share with us in the comments below!
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