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Redwood National Park: The Complete Guide for 2023

Nicole Jordan

California, USA

Over 2,000 years old, towering over 300 feet tall, and reaching a circumference of more than 90 feet around: the redwood trees at Redwood National Park are a sight to behold. With over 40,000 acres of old-growth forest and fossils dating back to the Jurassic period, Redwood is one of the most sacred national parks in the US. Wandering through the lush, green forest among these magnificent giants is a humbling experience (and unlike anywhere else in the world). The park offers opportunities for everyone, whether you enjoy a stroll through the forest, views of the Pacific Ocean, activities along the river, or wildlife spotting. Let’s explore.

Redwood National and State Parks Guide

Where is Redwood National Park?

Redwood National Park, California, USA
Redwood National Park, California, US.

Redwood National and State Parks are located along the northern coast of California. The parklands stretch about 50 miles from Crescent City, CA, near the Oregon border, down to Orick, CA. The National Park Service controls the recreation and protection of 4 areas: Redwood National Park, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.

Attempting to visit every national park in California? Don’t forget to check out Lassen Volcanic National Park, which is about 5 hours southeast of Redwood. If you’re up for a longer trip, cruise south to Yosemite National Park (about 9 hours southeast) and Pinnacles National Park (7.5 hours south). If distance is a factor, the closest park is Crater Lake National Park (3 hours northeast).

Facts About Redwood National Park

Big trees at Redwood National Park, California, USA
Redwood National Park, California, US.
  • Of the 132,000 acres protected as Redwood National Park, about 40,000 acres remain ancient forest due to park protection starting in 1968. Over 90% of the old-growth redwoods that grew along California’s northern coast were logged in the early 1900s prior to protection of this area.
  • The redwoods grow to be the tallest trees in the world, with the tallest reaching 379 feet. (And if big trees are your jam, consider a trip to Sequoia National Park, home to the world’s largest tree by volume, next).
  • Coastal redwoods actually take in about ⅔ of their water from precipitation in the crowns of their trees. Because of the regular fog along California’s coast, the trees have adapted to absorb water this way with the remaining ⅓ coming through their roots.
  • Coastal redwoods can live over 3,000 years, but average 500 to 700 years. They have no known killing diseases and rarely suffer from insect damage.

Getting to Redwood National Park

Getting to Redwood National Park
Redwood National Park, California, US.

San Francisco is the closest large city to Redwood National Park. It is about 5 ½ hours south of Redwood and is home to the largest nearby airport. To get to Redwood National Park, leave San Francisco crossing the Golden Gate Bridge heading North on US-101. Continue on US-101 N for 310 mi. The 101 runs through Redwood National Park and the section through the park is also known as Redwood Highway.

Redwood National Park Climate

Animals at Redwood National Park, California, USA
Redwood National Park, California, US.

Located along the picturesque coast of Northern California, Redwood National Park boasts a unique climate that is naturally cooler and slightly damp, often enveloped in a mystical layer of fog. Throughout the year, temperatures in this enchanting park range from the comfortable mid-40s to mid-60s. While summer offers a delightful respite with slightly warmer temperatures in the pleasant 70s, it also brings a drier spell with less rainfall. On the other hand, from October to April, the park experiences more rain, with an average of 60-80 inches of rainfall throughout the region, adding to the park’s lush greenery and vibrant ecosystems.

Redwood National Park Hours

Redwood National Park, California, US.

Redwood National Park, nestled in the stunning landscapes of California, welcomes visitors every day, around the clock. However, it is important to note that in light of the ongoing COVID-19 situation, the park is currently operating under limited operations. To stay informed about the most up-to-date information and receive frequent updates, we encourage you to explore the current conditions section on our website or reach out to our friendly staff. We are committed to ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience for all visitors.

Redwood National Park Entrance Fee

Redwood National Park, California, US. Karin Hildebrand Lau /

When embarking on a journey through the national park and its affiliated state parks, one can freely explore the highways and scenic roads without any entrance fees. However, it’s worth noting that specific areas like Gold Bluffs Beach/Fern Canyon and Jedediah Smith Campground do have a nominal day use vehicle fee of $8. So, plan your adventure accordingly and enjoy the wonders of nature!

Hiking in Redwood National Park

Redwood National Park, California, US.

If you’re ready to stretch your legs (but not sure where to start), here’s a list of our favorite hiking trails in Redwood National Park:

Easy, great for beginners:

  1. Big Tree Wayside (0.3 mi; flat)
  2. Lady Bird Johnson Grove Trail (1.3 mi; 75 ft gain)
  3. Fern Canyon Loop Trail (1 mi; 150 ft gain)
  4. Stout Memorial Grove (0.5 mi; 30 ft gain)
  5. Simpson Reed Trail (1 mi; 20 ft gain)

Moderate, fairly strenuous:

  1. Tall trees Grove Loop Trail (3.3 mi; 750 ft gain)
  2. Trillium Falls Trail (2.6 mi; 430 ft gain)
  3. Cathedral Trees Trail (3 mi; 275 ft gain)
  4. Boy Scout Tree Trail (5.3 mi; 750 ft gain)
  5. Mill Creek Trail (7.4 mi; 250 ft gain)

Hard, experience recommended:

  1. Hidden Beach and False Klamath Rock (7.6 mi; 1,150 ft gain)
  2. Redwood Creek Trail (15.6 mi; 1,100 ft gain)
  3. Skunk Cabbage Trail (7.3mi; 1,300 ft gain)
  4. Fern Falls via Boy Scout Tree Trail (6.3 mi; 875 ft gain)
  5. Miners’ Ridge and James Irvine (11.6 mi; 1,350 ft gain)

Redwood National Park Lodging

Redwood National Park, California, US.

Redwood National Park Camping

Planning a night under the stars? Here are some of the best campgrounds and campsites inside and outside of Redwood National Park:

  1. Jedediah Smith Campground
  2. Mill Creek Campground
  3. Elk Prairie Campground
  4. Gold Bluffs Beach Campground
  5. Humboldt Redwoods State Park Campground
  6. Panther Flat Campground
  7. 44 Camp
  8. Elk Country RV Resort & Campground
  9. Agate Campground
  10. Big Lagoon Campgrounds 

Redwood National Park Hotels

If camping isn’t your thing, there are plenty of resorts, hotels, hostels, inns, cabins and B&Bs within an hour of Redwood National Park. Here are some of our favorites:

  1. View Crest Lodge
  2. The Lost Whale Inn Oceanfront B&B
  3. Emerald Forest Cabins & RV
  4. Turtle Rocks Oceanfront Inn
  5. Trinidad Bay Bed & Breakfast
  6. Elk Meadows Cabins
  7. The Gingerbread Mansion Inn 
  8. Trinidad Inn
  9. Carter House Inns
  10. Curly Redwood Lodge

Redwood National Park Tours

Redwood National Park, California, US.

Join a guided tour of the redwoods with a commercial outfitter. Check out Redwood Sightseeing Tours or Redwood Adventures for guided sightseeing, wildlife viewing, and hiking trips. Also, swing by the Redwood National Park Visitor Center to join a ranger-led activity including tidepool exploration, kayaking, nature walks, and campfire programs.

Things to Do in Redwood National Park

Drive the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway

Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway, California, US.

While US-101, a major highway, also passes through the park, the scenic Newton B Drury Parkway offers a more enchanting route. This picturesque road runs parallel to US-101 and takes you on a mesmerizing journey through the magnificent old-growth redwood forest. Despite taking a little longer to drive than the 101, the Parkway generously rewards you with numerous pull-offs for invigorating hikes and breathtaking vistas that will leave you in awe. Prepare to be captivated by the beauty that surrounds you at every turn.

Walk amongst the giant trees at Big Tree Wayside

Big Tree Wayside, California, US.

Nestled conveniently off Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway in the picturesque Prairie Creek State Park, this delightful trail invites visitors to embark on a short, leisurely walk. The trail leads to the awe-inspiring Redwood’s Big Tree, a majestic redwood that has stood tall for an impressive 1,500 years, reaching a staggering height of nearly 300 feet. Immerse yourself in the enchanting beauty of this ancient giant and marvel at its grandeur.

Explore Stout Memorial Grove where Star Wars was filmed

Stout Memorial Grove, California, US.

The Stout Memorial Grove, nestled amidst the breathtaking landscapes, stands out as one of the most popular destinations. Its easy access and captivating beauty make it a favorite among nature enthusiasts. Adding to its allure are the intriguing speculations that the iconic movie, Return of the Jedi, was filmed in this very location, further enhancing its charm.

Wander through Redwood’s Fern Canyon in awe

Fern Canyon, California, US.

With its narrow canyon walls, towering redwoods, and lush vegetation of green ferns, mosses, and fungi, Redwood’s Fern Canyon presents an awe-inspiring and truly remarkable destination for hiking enthusiasts. The immersive experience of exploring this enchanting spot will leave you captivated by its natural beauty and rich biodiversity.

Hike the Trillium Falls Trail

Trillium Falls Trail, California, US.

Immerse yourself in the enchanting beauty of Trillium Falls, a family-friendly hike nestled within the breathtaking Redwood National Park. As you embark on this captivating trail, you’ll be greeted by towering old-growth redwoods, lush ferns, majestic fir trees, vibrant maples, and delicate trillium flowers, creating a tapestry of colors and textures that will leave you in awe. Journey deeper into the heart of the forest and discover a hidden gem—a small yet mesmerizing waterfall that cascades gracefully, providing a tranquil oasis amidst the verdant surroundings. Don’t miss the opportunity to experience this awe-inspiring wonder during your visit to the magnificent redwoods!

Visit Elk Meadow Day Use Area

Elk Meadow, California, US.

Redwood National Park, located in California, is not only known for its towering redwood trees but also for being the home of Roosevelt elk. These magnificent creatures, which are one of the largest types of deer, can be observed in the Elk Meadow Day Use Area within the park. It’s fascinating to learn that these majestic mammals were once on the brink of extinction due to extensive hunting, but thanks to the protective measures implemented by the park, their population has been able to thrive once again. Now, visitors have the opportunity to witness these impressive animals up close and appreciate the significance of conservation efforts.

Explore the tide pools at Enderts Beach

Enderts Beach, California, US.

During low tide, take a leisurely stroll along the ½ mile trail that winds down the picturesque coastal cliffs at Enderts Beach. As you descend, immerse yourself in the breathtaking scenery and keep an eye out for the mesmerizing marine wildlife that call these tide pools their home. It’s a unique opportunity to witness nature’s wonders up close and create unforgettable memories.

Enjoy the lupines along Bald Hills Scenic Drive

Bald Hills, California, US.

If you plan a visit to Redwood National Park in the spring, you absolutely must take the scenic Bald Hills Drive. This captivating 17-mile, one-way road will take you through awe-inspiring old-growth redwoods, immersing you in their majestic presence. As you continue along the drive, be prepared to be enchanted by the sight of vibrant prairies adorned with a tapestry of wildflowers, painting a picturesque scene that seems straight out of a fairytale. And keep your eyes peeled for the majestic Roosevelt elk and elusive black bears that call this park home. If you’re fortunate enough to have clear weather, you might even be treated to breathtaking views of the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean, completing the perfect nature-filled experience. So buckle up, embrace the adventure, and let the wonders of Redwood National Park unfold before your eyes.

Look for wildlife at the Klamath River Overlook

Klamath River Overlook, California, US.

After flowing for over 250 miles through scenic landscapes, the Klamath River gracefully merges with the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean. As you embark on this breathtaking journey, be sure to bring your binoculars along! Nestled at the renowned Klamath River Overlook, you’ll discover the perfect vantage point to witness a diverse array of marine and bird wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled, for there are even occasional sightings of magnificent whales and playful seals in this enchanting location.

Spend a night camping at Gold Bluffs Beach

Gold Bluffs Beach, California, US.

As you stand on the sandy shores of Gold Bluffs Beach, gazing out towards the vast expanse of the ocean, you will be captivated by the mesmerizing sights and sounds that surround you. The rhythmic crashing of the waves against the rugged sea cliffs, standing tall and proud behind you, creates a symphony of nature’s power and beauty. The salty breeze gently caresses your face, carrying with it a hint of the ocean’s briny scent. Take a moment to soak in the tranquility of this idyllic coastal paradise, where nature’s wonders unfold in breathtaking harmony.

Go kayaking on the Smith River

Smith River, California, US.

For a short period of summer, ranger-led kayak programs are offered on the Smith River. This is the largest free-flowing river in California and along the paddle you will explore the unique geology, wildlife, scenery, and learn about the role of the watershed in relation to the growth of the redwood trees.

Cycle the Ossagon Trail

Ossagon Creek, California, US.

The Ossagon Trail has a steep elevation gain when coming from the ocean but offers incredible views and takes you through a forest with sitka spruce and ancient coast redwoods. This trail can be as short as 1 ½ miles or as long as a 19-mile loop along the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway.

Drive through the Klamath Tour-Thru Tree

Tour Thru Tree, California, US.

The Klamath Tour Thru Tree, a famous attraction situated just outside the national park, offers visitors a unique experience of driving through one of the three magnificent redwoods. It’s an opportunity to marvel at the grandeur of nature and immerse oneself in the awe-inspiring beauty of these majestic trees. Don’t miss out on this remarkable adventure during your visit to the area!

Visit Battery Point Lighthouse

Battery Point Lighthouse, California, US.

This California Historical Landmark was one of California’s first lighthouses. With construction starting in 1856 for $15,000, this lighthouse now features a museum with the history of the area dating back to the mid 1800s. From April-September, the Battery Point Lighthouse is open daily for tours from 10am to 4pm when low tides permit. October through March it is open for weekend tours only.

End the day at SeaQuake Brewing

SeaQuake Brewing, California, US.

SeaQuake Brewing is a fantastic brewery nestled in the charming coastal town of Crescent City, renowned for its breathtaking ocean views and laid-back atmosphere. With its warm and inviting ambiance, SeaQuake Brewing is the ideal destination to unwind and indulge in a delectable dinner paired with their wide array of handcrafted beers. Whether you’re a beer enthusiast or simply seeking a memorable dining experience, SeaQuake Brewing promises to deliver an unforgettable evening that will leave you craving for more.


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