California’s redwoods are the largest beings on Earth. And the feeling of walking amongst them is truly a magical experience. Thanks to coastal California’s unique foggy and rainy climate, these giant trees can grow to almost 400 feet tall. Redwoods can live for thousands of years, and one of the best spots to see them is along the coast of northern California. Look no further than the Redwood National and State Parks.
What Are the Redwood National and State Parks
It can be a little bit confusing but Redwood National and State Parks are actually four separate parks that work together in a partnership. These parks include Redwood National Park, plus the Del Norte Coast, Jedediah Smith, and Prairie Creek State Parks. In addition to protecting the region’s remaining coastal redwood trees, these parks also preserve other indigenous flora and fauna and over 37 miles of wild coastline.
Things to See in Redwood National and State Parks
From scenic drives and hikes through towering old-growth trees to cycling trails and coastal walks. There is so much to see and do in these stunning National and State Parks. If you only have one day, head straight to the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway, which cuts through the groves of redwoods in Prairie Creek Redwood State Park. The best way to experience these giants is up close and on foot. Plus, you don’t want to miss the 1.5-mile hike through the Lady Bird Johnson Grove, one of the oldest and most gorgeous old-growth groves in the park.
If you have more time, hike the incredibly lush Fern Canyon Trail, which served as the backdrop of several scenes in Jurassic Park II. If you want to see the tallest trees in the park, you’ll need to get a permit from the visitors center—and only 50 permits are issued each day. It’s a steep and strenuous hike down to the Tall Trees Grove, but a small price to pay for a walk among the tallest living things in the world.
Where To Camp in Redwood National and State Parks
Camping is the only lodging option in Redwood National and State Parks. There are four developed campgrounds to choose from as well as several backcountry sites. These campgrounds are incredibly popular, with reservations being strongly recommended. Believe it or not, these campgrounds can be booked up to a year ahead of time!
The Mill Creek Campground is located in Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park among the younger coastal redwoods and is the largest campground in the parks. The Jedediah Smith Campground is situated among the old-growth redwoods on the banks of the Smith River and often regarded as the most scenic camp spot.
The Gold Bluffs Campground is the only campground on the Pacific Coast. It also provides easy access to a secluded beach as well as several miles of hiking and cycling trails. The Elk Prairie Campground is located in the Prairie Creek Redwoods section of the park and is conveniently located near the park’s visitor center.
The Redwood National and State Parks campgrounds are often completely full at many times throughout the year. If you don’t have a reservation, there are several other campgrounds and RV parks located outside the park boundaries that may have availability. So, remember to plan ahead and check all your options!