Redwood National Park
Did you know that Redwoods trees grow from seeds that are the size of tomato seeds? It’s pretty amazing when you consider that some of them end up growing over 300 feet! We have visited the Redwoods on several different trips to California. They are one of our favorite places to visit in the United States. In this post we talk about some of the best things to do in Redwood National Park as well as some of our top tips for visiting. Are you ready to explore the giant trees with us?
General Info for Redwood National Park
Technically, Redwood National Park is also Redwood National and State Parks. If you’re scratching your head wondering what that means … it means that this park is actually made up of both a National Park AND a couple of State Parks. In May of 1994 the National Park Service and California State Parks decided to cooperatively manage their parks. Together, they oversee 133,000 acres.
Crescent City Information Center
1111 Second Street, Crescent City, California
During the summer the Info Center is open daily from 9:00am to 5:00pm
Off-season hours are daily from 9:00am to 4:00pm
Phone number: 707-465-7335
Hiouchi Information Center
The Hiouchi Information Center is located 9 miles northeast of Crescent City on US 199.
It has the same hours as the Crescent City Information Center.
Jedediah Smith Visitor Center
You can find this visitor center in the Jedediah Smith Campground. It’s 9 miles northeast of Crescent City on US 1999.
It’s open daily during the summer from 9:00am to 5:00pm. During the off season it is open when staff are available. Call the park headquarters at 707-465-7335 for more information.
Prairie Creek Visitor Center
The Prairie Creek Visitor Center is located 6 miles north of Orick, California on the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway.
The hours are also the same as the Crescent City Information Center.
Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center
This visitor center is located 2 miles south of Orick, California on US 101.
Again, it’s hours are the same as the Crescent City Information Center.
Best Things to Do in Redwood National Park
Go for a hike!
There are numerous trails to hike or run. We have done a couple of runs on the Coastal Trail. We really like the sections near False Klamath Cove and Lagoon Creek (there’s free parking at both locations). The trail is a beautiful stretch of single track that winds through the woods and gives you numerous looks of the water. It’s a bit hillier than you might expect but the effort is worth it! The Lady Bird Johnson Grove area is also a beautiful section to hike. There is a self-guiding loop trail there that is about 1.5 miles long.
Take a drive
You can also enjoy the redwoods from the comfort of your car. There are some really beautiful stretches of road to drive. We took our Dodge Ram Promaster City Van along a gravel stretch through Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park called Howland Hill Road. (Large RV’s and trailers are not recommended on this road). It’s a twisty section and sometimes narrow section that is meant to be driven slowly. We passed a couple of cars but for the most part, we had the road to ourselves. Just us and the redwoods.
In addition, Route 101 will allow you to see some beautiful trees. As you head south, consider taking the Newton B. Drury Parkway through Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. It’s a really beautiful place, especially in the morning or evening as the sun starts to get lower.
For a list of other scenic drive recommendations, head on over here.
Look for wildlife
The trees are the superstars in Redwood National Park but the animals in this park are just as amazing. Head on over to Elk Prairie campground, Gold Bluffs beach, Bald Hills and Davison roads for a chance to see some Roosevelt elk. Though more rare, there are also black bears in the area. Be sure, if camping, to store your food properly. Learn more about food safety and bears HERE. Also, if you are into birds and birdwatching, the California coast is a wonderful place to see them. The marbled murrelet nests in Redwood State and National Parks as do the more common brown pelicans.
Enjoy a Picnic
There are a lot of really great places to picnic. Some of our favorite spots include the Crescent Beach Overlook, the Klamath River Overlook, Lady Bird Johnson Grove and Elk Meadow. You really can’t go wrong and since there are numerous spots to picnic, you can kind of wing this part and just pull over for a meal when you’re hungry. (That said, we recommend bringing your food with you because there aren’t any food vendors or restaurants in any of the parks. If you’re coming from the North, grab some supplies in Crescent City. If you’re coming from the south, Eureka will most likely have the most options.)
Best Places to Stay in Redwood National Park
There are four campgrounds in Redwood National Park: Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park and Gold Bluffs Beach. There are also seven backcountry camping spots in the park. The backcountry sites require a permit but they are free to get.
The standard camping fee is $35.00 a night
There aren’t any lodges in the park but there are a couple of cabins at Jedediah Smith and Elk Prairie. They are $100.00 a night in the summer and $80.00 a night in the winter.
There are no lodges run by the park system.
This is a busy park and reservations are recommended, especially in the summer months. Call 1-800-444-7275 but allow at least 48 hours before you plan to visit.
There are no RV hookups at any of the above sites.
Our favorite place to camp in this area is Patrick’s Point State Park. The views at Patrick’s Point are amazing, the trails are really fun to run and it’s quiet and dark at night. It’s not in the Redwoods but it’s close enough to them (and it’s along the beach). The park is 25 miles north of Eureka and 56 miles south of Crescent City, not too far off 101.
Top Tips for Visiting Redwood National Park
When it comes to the Redwoods, the National Park Service actually teams up with the California Department of Parks and Recreation. You’ll see both logos as well as both uniforms when you’re visiting these parks.
Do not hang hammocks in the trees because it will damage the trees.
Drones are prohibited.
Feeding wildlife is prohibited.
When you’re in the beach areas, make sure to check the tide tables. You don’t want to walk out only to have the tide rise on you and prevent you from getting back.
During periods of high wind, be alert for falling branches. The risk is especially higher in old-growth forests.
There is poison oak in this area so keep your eyes peeled and watch when you step (or touch.)
Stay on the trails and away from the cliffs. Cliffs in this area have been known to crumble and slide so stay away from the edge. As such, always beware of walking directly below them.
Bikes and horses are allowed on certain trails within these parks!
Redwood National Park Recap
The Redwoods are an incredibly beautiful place to visit. Put Redwood National Park on your list for best places to road trip in California as well as one of the best national parks in the west.
Have you been here? If so, what’d you think about our top tips for visiting Redwood National Park? We’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below!