Visitors walking on a forest bridge among giant redwoods. Visitors walking on a forest bridge among giant redwoods.

The Epic Guide to Enjoy Nature’s Treasures at The Redwood National and State Parks in California, USA

Trust me, it’s so true!

From your childhood, you might have been taught that magical fairytale landscapes are found only in the Brothers Grimm tales. 

But do you know the greatest secret that no one has told you till now?

This landscape has come to life in the Redwood National and State Parks in California, with towering redwood thickets soaring over you with magical lush prairies surrounding you to enchant you. 

To top it up, there are some cliff-marked beaches to pump amplified beauty and entertainment into your soul!

So, why not take a trip here to experience the charm of nature and make some unforgettable journeys for a lifetime?
Read on to discover a different world with a new point of view, proving that even fairytale lands have addresses on planet Earth!

1. Exploring the Redwood National and State Parks in California, USA

You will say a big WOW when you first visit Redwood National Park, and it’s an undeniable guaranteed fact for many visitors out there ahead of you.

 

Redwood Creek is one of the oldest and most massive coastal national parks that are home to the tallest redwood herbage. Of the three places with the world’s tallest redwood trees, two are found in California only in the Redwood Parks!

Did you know? Most of the trees in the redwood forest are over centuries old since the Roman Empire’s Fall! Astounding right?

There is so much to do in Redwood National Park than being awe-struck at the enchanting landscape stretching over 2 million acres of land with the tallest trees soaring over 370 feet into the clouds.

Occupying the coastal belt of Northern California, there is so much to do under the green expanse. From taking a scenic drive, beach camping, hiking, Roosevelt elk viewing, biking, and more, there is something Redwood Park offers you for a day. 

Insider tip: The place offers numerous hiking and trailheads to keep exploring and discovering the wordless beauty of nature at every turn. So, don’t forget to visit Fern Canyon, which was featured in a famous scene in Jurassic Park 2. It is also a stalwart sight to walk amidst nature, entirely walled by lush ferns!

But the unconventional part of this national park is that you cannot wrap your brain in just visiting Redwoods. And it’s unlike every traditional national park where just entering the gate takes you into the park. 

But that is not the case here!

A whole ecosystem of different places is present within the National Park, which the National Parks Service and the California State Parks jointly manage. It’s not just a single national park. 

Instead, it’s a cluster of four parks, each with its own landscape, coastal beaches, and lush ferny forests with redwoods everywhere in between!

The names of the four park systems are;

  1. Redwood National Park
  2. Jedediah Smith Redwoods
  3. Prairie Creek Redwood
  4. Del Norte Coast Redwoods

These are grouped into one as the Redwood National and State Parks in California.

Today, it’s a national park bucket list place for every tourist to experience magic every single day right in front of their eyes!

Curious to know how this place came into existence?

Then take a dip into the Redwood National Park history in the upcoming section to travel backward in time!

Curious? Then check out the Redwood National Park photos here that are shown in the visitor center over there!

2. A Quick Exploration of the Redwoods Landscape

This complex of numerous national and state parks, collectively known as the Redwood National and State Parks, stands on the farther end of the northwest corner of California, a State in the US. They are the guardians of the remaining 45% of the tall trees living for more than hundreds of decades. 

Now it’s time to delve into the expanse and stay informed to make the most of your California Redwoods trip!

2.1 Geography

Experience the Magic of Redwood National Park | Short Film Showcase

Extending across the Del Norte and Humboldt counties on the Northern coast of California, USA, the Redwood National and State Parks is famous for its frequent acute earthquakes. 

The result of the earthquake was experienced around the park with the erosion of sea cliffs, landslides, and the movement of water channels.

Nevertheless, the reason behind these earthquakes is probably the tectonic activity, as the Mendocino Triple Junction is 160 km away in the Southwestern part of these parks. This junction is a meeting point for the Tectonic plates, namely the Pacific, Gorda, and North American plates. 

Interestingly, this geographical locale has protected redwood groves, prairie grasslands, streams, rivers, and 60 km of pristine coastal region of the Pacific.

One of the wondrous facts is the climate experienced by this landscape. Highly influenced by the Pacific, the places undergo an oceanic temperate rainforest climate with a temperature shift between 4 to 15 °C around the year along the coast. 

Subsequently, prevalent fog during dry, sunny summer days protects trees from direct sunlight. 

You can find the redwoods growing at a pace of 1.5- 3 km away from the coast.

2.2 Vegetation

The Tallest Trees on Earth - 4K Nature Documentary Film | Redwood National and State Parks

Protecting nearly 157.75 km2 of old-growth forests, these parks are famous for coastal redwoods, the tallest and oldest trees on earth!

Astonishing fact: Did you know? The Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, housing the Lost Monarch, a coastal redwood in terms of volume, has been ranked as the fifth-largest coast redwood tree.

Also, there are distinct flora species found in the Redwood National Park and State Park, like the Sitka spruce, Douglas-fir, acorns, evergreen hardwood tanoak, California laurel, bigleaf maple, red alder, and Pacific madrone.

You can also spot the azalea and California rhododendron, two prominent flowering shrubs in California’s Redwood National and State Parks.

2.3 Wildlife

Life in the Redwoods | Explore the Redwoods | SciShow Kids

You can glimpse the diverse faunal species housed in this unique ecosystem if you go on hiking or trekking over the place. According to estimates, about 40 species of mammals are found in the parks.

From aquatic animals, reptiles, and amphibians to avian species, there are endless lists one can classify which you cannot comprehend.  

Apart from this, these parks have registered over 200 exotic species, of which 30 are invasive. These pose a significant threat to the native species of the park’s ecosystem. 

3. Skipping Through Time to Where it All Began…

A Unique Partnership: Redwood World Heritage Site and Affiliated Tribes - World Heritage Webinar

Archaeological records have revealed the presence of human civilization 300 years ago in these parks. They mainly were indigenous tribes who occupied the area to utilize redwood to construct their boats, houses, and small villages. 

They comprised Native Indians with diverse languages, knowledge, cultures, and religious beliefs. An 1852 consensus reported that the Indigenous Yurok people were the predominant group there.

However, it was stated that until the 1860s, the Chilula group occupied the creek redwood valley’s heart.

Until the Euro-American contact, these Indigenous tribes lived in peace, and it was believed that spirit beings existed before human arrival in the place. 

However, upon discovering gold in the Trinity River in Northwestern California in the 1850s, when gold seekers and wood harvesters invaded the land, Indigenous peoples were utterly evicted.

By the 19th century, most of the trees disappeared. It was because of Boone and Crockett Club, who founded the Save the Redwoods League in 1918, that the Jedediah Smith, Prairie Creek Redwoods, and Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Parks were established under the 1927 California State Park System.

In 1968 the Redwood National Park and on September 5, 1980, the parks were under the UNESCO National Heritage Site. Today they are under the combined management of the National Park Service and the California Department of Parks and Recreation.

Now, what happened to the rest of the Indigenous peoples of the land?

Over time since the massacre, parts of the cultures found in Northwest indigenous California began to dilute. The customs, beliefs, and rituals were alike, but the language remained diverse. 

Tolowa, Yurok, Hupa, and Karuk are the languages that battled and prevailed over time and are spoken by a few elders of the tribes and are currently learned by the younger generation.

Interestingly, despite the 150-year dreadful events, Northwestern indigenous communities of California have prevailed in all aspects of life, including art, politics, religion, and community exhibits. 

While some live on ancestral property on reservations or near farmlands, others have moved to towns and cities.

Interesting fact: Today, if you visit the parks, you can find the Tolowa and the Yurok Native American tribes stage amazing dance demonstrations to visitors every summer to understand the significance of each culture.

4. Redwood National Park Facts to Kickstart Your Journey

Fun Facts About Redwood Trees | Botany | The Good and the Beautiful

  • It houses the 380 feet world’s tallest tree—the Hyperion Tree.
  • The location of this tree remains a secret to protect it from harm. 
  • Hiking and Biking trails are available for 200 miles around the park. 
  • Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi featured a scene of this forest as the home of Ewoks, set in Endor. 
  • The rare ecosystem and cultural heritage made this park become a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1980.
  • Do you remember we discussed earlier about invasive species in the park? Poison hemlock and knapweed are some of them.
  • The park’s highest elevation, at 3170 feet, is found at Coyote Peak.
  • Chinook salmon, northern spotted owl, bald eagle, and Steller’s sea lion are spotted in the park.
  • The California Coast Ranger International Biosphere Reserve was added to the parks in 1983.
  • These parks are the only remaining place in the world to house half of the early old-growth redwood thicket.

5. Places to Discover and Explore at the Redwood National and State Parks

Redwood National Park and State Parks - Things to Do and See When You Visit - Nature Photos

Congratulations! You have made it to the best sections of the article as we delve into some adventure-filled activities to enjoy some exclusive holidays at the park! 

If you are a first-time wanderer to the place who is going to hold up a topsy-turvy park map, then you are the right person to continue reading to get yourself to some best spots away from people.

The good news for you is that you can visit the park any time of the year as the temperature remains between 40 to 60 degrees F throughout the year. Summers are mild and foggy, with hundreds of people clustered inside. 

Winters are cool with high precipitation and give you a different view altogether. However, if you are an avid birdwatcher, book your slot in spring, a peak season for bird migration. Fall usually has some sunny days with crowds flocking, and it’s best to book during September to see nature and not people!

Insider tip: Take a tour here around March, April, November, or December to view the grey whales. Bring your binoculars over their spouting areas in the Crescent Beach Overlook, Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center, High Bluff Overlook, Klamath River Overlook, and Gold Bluffs Beach.

There are ranger-guided tours for children if you contact the parks’ education specialist.

5.1 Best Hiking Trails

Redwood National Park | The 13 Best Hikes

With over 200 miles of trails available, hiking is the best sport to enjoy here. But a word of caution is that these trails can be soggy, muddy, and slippery even in summer. So, wear appropriate clothing and watch your step!

To find the perfect trails, plan ahead or ask the park rangers at any campgrounds. However, to help you navigate, here are a few famous trail spots perfect for hiking;

5.1.1 Coastal Trail:

As the name suggests, this trail offers some stunning beach views and is located about four miles one way. Even you can spot some migratory whales in the distance during spring or fall.  

5.1.2 Lady Bird Johnson Grove: 

This is the ultimate locale to take a journey throughout the park. This is a 1.5-mile-long trail that offers amplified beauty and the tranquil ambiance of the park. You can spot the gigantic redwoods, even hollowed-out ones that still are still in existence!

5.1.3 Trillium Falls: 

If you are looking for a family-friendly hiking trail, this is the best place to go. With effortless parking after passing through the redwood groves and arriving at the small waterfalls hiking here takes only 90 minutes. 

You can keep your eyes and lens open here to spot the elks grazing the meadows as you pass by!

5.1.4 James Irvine Trail: 

If your body craves hiking an entire day, you can reach here to take the 12-mile loop to benefit the best. You can journey on foot through the old-growth forests of redwoods and finally hike the Pacific coast with the ocean on one side and the gigantic trees on the other. 

Oh, what a spectacular scene you can capture to cherish forever!

5.2 Camping at the Park

The Redwood National and State Parks in California, USA
By welcomia/Depositphots. Copyright

Four developed campgrounds are available around the park- one at the coast and three at the forest to make it a memorable vacation for hikers, bikers, and families. 

You can bring your RVs; unfortunately, no hookups are available here. 

And to access the campgrounds, you must make a reservation at the California State Park system. Do this in advance, as there are campers with you jostling through to get a place reserved for them!

5.2.1 Jedediah Smith Campground: 

Camping in the Redwoods - Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park

Located at the banks of the scenic Smith River, this open year-round campground allows seamless access to swimming, fishing, and hiking trails. 

5.2.2 Mill Creek Campground:

Drive Mill Creek Campground - Redwood National and State Park - 1080

Camp amidst the juvenile redwoods in any place of the 145 sites available. And this is the largest campground in the four that is open according to seasons between May and September.

5.2.3 Elk Prairie Campground:

Elk Prairie Campground Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park - 360 Video Virtual Tour 4K

True to its name, this campground is the best place to be amongst local elks that roam near the campground amidst the redwoods. This site is open to tourists all through the year!

5.2.4 Gold Bluffs Beach Campground:

Redwood N.P. - Gold bluffs beach campground California (The Beach)

A rugged and small campground that stands on the right side of the beach where you can sleep with the roaring Pacific next door crashing against the rocks! Cool, right?

Though it’s open throughout the year, it sometimes remains closed at times. 

If you are traveling by bike, horseback, or even on foot, you are welcome to this camp at the park’s backcountry. But take a free permit online at least four weeks before your trip.

Apart from these activities, ensure to keep your foot on these places to experience the variety of the parks;

  • Fern Canyon
  • Howland Hill Road and Bald Hills scenic drives
  • Trees of Mystery
  • Stout Memorial Grove
  • Watch the Roosevelt Elk at Prairie
  • Visit Big Tree Grove, and the list goes on!
    REDWOOD NATIONAL PARK Travel Guide

Ultimately enjoying all this in a single day is IMPOSSIBLE. So, it is best to steal away a few days of your vacation to get the best out of place. 

Alternatively, suppose you desire a comfy stay close to the park to jump out the next day to explore. In that case, the best-rated hotels to rest are the View Crest Lodge, Carter House Inns, Curly Redwood Lodge, Elk Meadow Cabins, and Holiday Inn Express Klamath.

6. Where are the Redwood National Park and State Parks? How to Reach Them?

The Redwood National and State Parks in California, USA
By kamchatka/Depositphotos. Copyright

The first route to reach the place quicker is to drive on Highway 101, otherwise known as the Redwood Highway. 

If you are taking a road trip from San Francisco, it’s a five-and-a-half-hour car drive. From the north, it’s a six-and-a-half-hour car drive from Portland and Oregon.

If you wish to fly, don’t worry; some closest airports are available to these cities. Even regional flights are available to Crescent City Airport and the Eureka- Arcata Airport if you come from a longer distance.

Also, local public transportation services are available to get into the park, such as the Redwood Coast Transit that travels between Crescent City, Smith River, and Arcata, stopping in downtown Orick.

To get more information on ticket pricing, entry, and other details, visit the official website for a safe and wonderful journey!

7. Passing the Spark of Wanderlust to You!

The Redwood National and State Parks in California, USA
By miroslav_1/Depositphotos. Copyright

You must seize to get a chance to stand and explore the unheard out there at the Redwood National and State Parks. It is not only beautiful or magical, but you can learn how the government has constantly tried to preserve and protect these mesmerizing areas of nature that you can’t find anywhere on Earth!

Now it’s time to unplug your senses from here and plug them into the redwoods, visiting them in your upcoming vacation!

And stay tuned to our website for more exciting updates to keep yourself motivated and rule the present time! 

Last Updated on December 23, 2023 by suchi

Author

Hephzibah
  1. The Redwood Forest is so grand and magnificent it is hard not to be in awe. The trees alone are incredible, and the many trails and small info-stands all around the park make it a interesting and fun area to hike in. Definitely a place to go both with friends and family, no matter if you are a outdoorsy person or not. Truly a must see park!

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