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An Expert Guide to REDWOOD NATIONAL PARK (Epic Video + Photos)

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stout grove redwood national park
Stout Grove – Redwood National Park

Redwood National Park

Redwood National & State Parks are some of the most magical places on the planet filled with stunning redwood forests. Nowhere else on earth are these stunning Redwood specimens so tall or prevalent as they are here.

I recall my first time visiting Redwood National Park being in complete and total awe (and every time since for that matter). Stepping foot inside a redwood forest is like setting foot on another planet (more specifically, Endor). Redwood is a national park that makes your neck sore craning upwards to try and comprehend the size and scale of these natural skyscrapers.

If you’re wondering to yourself “is Redwood National Park worth visiting?” I can say yes, it absolutely is, regardless of your fitness level or mobility – the redwood forest will change your life.

In this Redwood Guide I’ll cover:

  • Redwood Forest Info
    Redwoods History
  • Getting to the Redwoods
  • Visiting Redwood National Park
  • Redwoods Map
  • Where to Stay in the Redwoods
  • Redwood Forest Camping
  • Best Things to Do in the Redwoods

Ready to dive in? Let’s go!


About My Travels to Redwood National Park

redwood forest, redwood national park
Will (me on the right) at Redwood National Park

My brother Jim and I first traveled to Redwood National Park back in 2014 as part of a very small film crew to capture the most beautiful parts of the park during the Summer.

Originally we traveled out West and flew into Seattle to film Mount Rainier but it was smoked out by a wildfire.

So we drove down the coast to Redwood National Park. It was an unbelievable experience and a time I’ll always remember. I’ve been back to the redwood forest many times since and plan to return many times in the future!


Redwood National Park Guide

About Redwood National Park

lady bird johnson grove redwood national park, redwood forest
Lady Bird Johnson Grove | Redwood National Park

Redwood National and State Parks in Northern California are home to the tallest trees in the world, the mighty Redwood, which can reach staggering heights of over 360ft and weigh more than 500 tons.

These parks feature magical redwood forests, miles of spectacular beaches, stunning overlooks, and the largest herd of Roosevelt elk on the planet.

Redwood also happens to be my favorite of the 9 California National Parks.


Things to Know Before Visiting Redwood

Entrance Fees: Depends. Most of the park is free to access! However, some of the day use and campground areas do require fees.

We really like this map & this guidebook.

If you love the national parks and visit them often enough, I suggest you go ahead and purchase the America the Beautiful Pass (which can be found at the entrance gates to most national parks or online here). This pass gets you into all National Parks, Forests, Monuments, and more including 2,000 sites for free after a one time $79 fee.

Sunscreen: For many of us visiting national parks in the summer means lots of sun. Seriously, some of these parks can zap you if you don’t wear sunscreen. We happen to like this one because it works AND it’s not full of a bunch of chemicals.

Leave No Trace: We’re big fans of Leave No Trace, here at MTJP. Want to learn more? Read about the seven principals of Leave No Trace here.

Insect Repellent: You hope not to need it, but you want to have it. We typically bring an Eco-Friendly Insect Repellent with us just in case.

Dogs are not allowed on trails in most national parks due to their potentially disruptive presence with the natural ecosystem. The basic rule is they are allowed where cars can go so be sure to check the rules before bringing along your furry friend.


Details About Redwood National Park

Location: Northern California

Established: October 2, 1968

Size: 138,999 acres

Native Land: Yurok, Whilkut, Athabaskan, more

Visitors: 482,536 (2020)

Entrance Fees: $30 per vehicle; $55 annual pass (or $80 for America the Beautiful Pass)


The (Sad) History of Redwood National Park

redwood national park logging
A train transports logged redwoods circa 1890 (courtesy wikimedia)

The history of Redwood National Park is an all-too common tragedy of the American West. Back in 1850 the California redwoods spanned more than 2 million acres of old-growth redwood forest.

The land was occupied by Native Americans (mostly Yurok) who respected and revered the incredible natural heritage of the area.

Sadly, the story doesn’t end there. The event of the gold rush changed everything, for the worse. The natives were forced out by gold-seekers and timber interests (largely looking to supply the gold rush folks).

The next five decades would be the most gut-wrenching for the area as Natives were extirpated along with the majority of the 2,000+ year old Redwoods themselves by way of the clear-cut.

Finally, An End to the Logging

lady bird johnson grove dedication
Billy Graham, Ronald Reagan, Lyndon & Lady Bird Johnson attend the dedication of Lady Bird Johnson Grove in Redwood National Park.

In 1918 the Save the Redwoods League was founded with a “clear-cut” mission (pun intended). The league was able to spearhead the creation of several state parks including Jedediah Smith, Del Norte Coast, and Prairie Creek.

Finally in 1968, after a devastating 90% of the original old-growth redwoods had already been logged, the national park was signed into law by President Richard Nixon. It was later expanded by Jimmy Carter.


Redwood National Park Map

redwood national park map
Redwood National Park Official Map (courtesy NPS)

Where is Redwood National Park?

Redwood National Park is located in the Northernmost section of California, right on the Oregon border. The park is about 313 miles north of San Francisco, 6 hours driving. Redwood National Park shares a border with the Six Rivers National Forest


Getting to Redwood National Park – Directions & Location

There are a few ways to access the park from different directions.

Closest Airport to Redwood National Park: CEC – Del Norte County Airport (in Crescent City)

The fastest way to get to Redwood National Park is flying into Del Norte County Airport (the nearest airport to the Redwoods) and driving to the park. Flights into Del Norte are typically on the spendier side and rental car options are limited. The proximity can’t be beat as it’s a 20 minute drive from the airport to the nearest part of the park.

Driving from San Francisco

Getting to the park from San Francisco is incredibly scenic but long. I recommend renting a car from the airport and driving to Orick (roughly 300 miles from the airport). The drive takes about 6 hours without traffic.

Driving from the North (Oregon)

Alternatively you could fly into Medford, Oregon and make a two hour drive southwest to the park. This route is sometimes cheaper than direct to Crescent City.

Driving from the East (Redding)

Another option is flying into Redding and making the 4.5 hour drive West to Orick. This route is rarely the cheaper alternative but worth plugging in to Google Flights.


Redwood National Park Shuttle System

Sorry folks – there is no public transportation system currently in use at Redwood National Park.


Driving in Redwood National Park

redwood national park driving
Avenue of the Giants – Redwood National & State Parks

Driving the Redwood Coast is considered one of the most iconic and beautiful drives in North America. To get from the northernmost tip of the park, the Jedediah Smith Redwoods, down to the Humboldt Redwoods (technically not park of the park but we include it anyway) is about a 3 hour drive.

99% of driving in Redwood National Park can be done with a regular 2WD car with a potential exception being the short drive from Gold Bluffs Beach to Fern Canyon depending on road conditions.

Motorists should will experience a myriad of views from ancient old growth redwood groves to stunning coastal vistas. Fog is a common companion along these roads so drive slowly and enjoy.

Getting Gas in Redwood

There are plenty of fuel options along the way so drivers don’t need to worry too much about running out of gas.

The only caveat we’ll give is if you’re passing through the town of Orick and are low on fuel, be sure to fill up there to be safe as it is a bit removed from the next gas station.


Redwood Video

WATCH: Our award-winning 3 minute video on Redwood National Park

About the Redwood Film

Our simple 3 minute Redwood Film is currently being featured by National Geographic and has received awards all over the world. We are thrilled this video has touched so many being viewed more than 10 million times worldwide. Sit back, relax, and enjoy 3 minutes in the most magical place on earth.

MTJP | Redwood is the culmination of several weeks spent exploring Redwood National and State Parks. Redwood National and State Parks in Northern California are home to the tallest trees in the world, the mighty Redwood, which can reach staggering heights of over 360ft and weigh more than 500 tons.

These parks feature magical redwood forests, miles of spectacular beaches, stunning overlooks, and the largest herd of Roosevelt elk on the planet. This film was shot entirely in 4K.

Redwood UNESCO Designation

Redwood National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and for good reason. A trip to this magical place is a must for every human on the planet.

Redwood National Park features the tallest trees on the planet (not to be confused with the largest in Sequoia National Park).

RELATED: All 9 of California’s National Parks RANKED


Redwood Weather & Seasons

redwood national park
Sunlight filters through a canopy of Redwoods | National Park Redwoods

Redwood National Park has very mild seasons given its location, firmly within the marine west coast climate. With that being said, each season brings something a little different to Redwood National Park.

We prefer early Summer because of the warmer temperatures combined with pre-peak crowds. Watching the sun filter through the Redwood canopies is a beautiful and mesmerizing thing.

While we prefer Summer, each season has its own charm.


Best Time to Visit Redwood National Park

redwood national park overlook
An overlook in the Redwoods

The best time to visit Redwood National Park is during the Summer when temperatures warm up and warmth can be felt in the redwood forests.

During Summer, temperatures  get up into the 80s with nights cool enough to sleep outside with low temperatures in the 60s.

Summer is the perfect time of year to cool off in the Smith River with a swim. We recommend early summer (June) as the park sees more visitation in July and August.


Redwood National Park Seasons

redwood in spring
Redwood in Spring | Seasons & Weather

Spring in Redwood National Park

Spring is lovely in the Redwoods with rising temperatures, less rain, and wildflowers blooming all over the park. Visitation is still low this time of year which makes it an ideal time to visit the park.

The park will see lows in the 40s during March and mid 50s by June with highs between 58 – 71 degrees.


redwood in summer
Redwood National Park in Summer is bliss.

Summer in Redwood National Park

Summer is the best time to visit Redwood National Park. During Summer, temperatures  get up into the 80s with nights cool enough to sleep outside with low temperatures in the 60s.

Summer is the perfect time of year to cool off in the Smith River with a swim. We recommend early summer (June) as the park sees more visitation in July and August.

NOTE: Mosquitos are a factor during Summer, especially July, in the redwoods.


Redwood in Fall
Redwood in Fall

Fall in Redwood National Park

Fall in the Redwoods can be lovely. Temperatures are cooling off but still quite nice with highs in the 60s and 70s. September is a great month to visit as crowd sizes are down and the weather is still nice.


redwood in winter
Redwood in Winter

Winter in Redwood National Park

Winter can be surprisingly nice in the Redwoods with the temperate climate keeping the lows in mid 40s and the highs in the mid 50s. Crowd sizes are minimal this time of year which makes for a more intimate experience in the park.

One can find themselves complete solace in many of the parks groves in winter. One thing to note is that this is the rainiest time of year in the park which brings its own charm as the true vivaciousness of the redwood forest comes to life.


Best Things to Do in Redwood National Park

stout grove redwood national park
Wanderer in Stout Grove

1. Hike the Stout Grove

The Stout Grove is one of the most magnificent and highly photographed groves of old-growth Redwoods in the national park. Located in Jedediah Smith Redwoods North of Crescent City, the Stout Grove features a relatively small (but oh so stunning) grove of giant, 300ft tall redwoods.

Distance: .7 mile roundtrip
Time: 45mins – 1.5 hours

The Stout Grove is located in the northernmost section of the park in Jedediah Smith Redwoods. The road leading to the Stout Grove is unpaved but passible with 2WD vehicles. Mosquitoes here can be pesky in early to mid Summer.


lady bird johnson grove redwood national park
Sunset in Lady Bird Johnson Grove

2. Discover the Lady Bird Johnson Grove

The Lady Bird Johnson Grove is one of the most spectacular groves of ancient, old-growth Redwoods in the world. This grove is located near the town of Orick in Redwood National Park at about 1,000ft above sea level and is one of the most popular hikes in the park.

Distance: 1.3 miles roundtrip
Time: 1-2 hours

The trail itself is only about 1.3miles long with little elevation gain making it great for folks of all ages and fitness levels. If you’re visiting Lady Bird Johnson Grove be sure to check out Redwood Creek Overlook just down the road for the park’s best sunsets!


fern canyon redwood national park
Hiker in Fern Canyon

3. Explore Fern Canyon

Fern Canyon is a stunning, world-renowned destination, made famous by it’s appearance in the Jurrasic Park movie franchise. Literally dripping with ferns from wall to wall with a creek flowing through, this canyon is a mesmerizing spot that everyone visiting Redwood National Park should see.

Distance: 1.1 miles roundtrip
Time: 1-2 hours

The trail can be done as a 1.1mile loop or an out and back which is more popular as visitors get to see the spectacular parts twice.


jedediah smith redwoods redwood national park
Jedediah Smith Redwoods

4. Experience the Jedediah Smith Redwoods

Jedediah Smith Redwoods is often many visitors first experience in the Redwoods. This area is located on the stunning Wild & Scenic Smith River on the north side of the park near Crescent City.

There is a beautiful campground and a popular swimming hole located in the Jedediah Smith Redwoods along with some of the most popular groves in the world including the Stout Grove.


gold bluffs beach redwood national park
Sunset at Gold Bluffs Beach

5. Camp Out at Gold Bluffs Beach

Gold Bluffs Beach is a beautiful spot on the Pacific ocean named for the the iconic golden colored bluffs that overlook it.

The Gold Bluffs Beach Campground here is the only one in the park located on the beach making it a truly one-of-a-kind experience. Who doesn’t love the sound of the ocean outside of your tent serenading you to sleep?

If that isn’t enough, there is a resident herd of elk that frequents the beach along with migrating whales and dolphins.

For more things to do in Redwood National Park read our full 12 AMAZING Things To Do in Redwood National Park post.


redwood national park road trip
A car on the side of the road in the Avenue of the Giants – Redwood

6. Drive The Avenue of the Giants

The Avenue of the Giants is a magnificent 31.5 mile drive that weaves you through the Humboldt Redwoods State Park located about an hour south of Eureka.

While this area is not technically part of the “national park” we included it anyway because it’s so close and not to be missed.

The drive itself is not long but there are many, many stops along the way so prepare for a full days worth of activities if you plan to drive the route. The redwood forest here is different from the coastal redwood forests as the climate is drier and trees are redder.


7. More Things to Do in the Redwoods

For more things to do at Redwood National Park check out our comprehensive article on all of the coolest things to do in the park.


Where to Stay in the Redwoods – Camping & Lodging

Camping in Redwood National Park

Redwood National Park is home to 4 campgrounds (within the official park boundaries) and over 300 campsites offering a wide variety of camping options from campgrounds from intimate sites in redwood forests to beach camping.

Backcountry camping is also an option for the more adventurous park-goer.

Of these campgrounds my personal favorite are Gold Bluffs Beach (right on the ocean!) and Jedediah Smith Redwoods (located in a massive Redwood Grove).

gold bluffs beach redwood national park
Gold Bluffs Beach Campsite Redwoods

Redwood National Park Campgrounds

Jedediah Smith Campground
  • Location: Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
  • Dates: Year Round
  • # of Campsites: 86 sites
  • RV: Max 25 feet – No hookups

Description: Jedediah Smith Campground is the most popular for first-timers in all of Redwood National Park. This spectacular campground is situated on the wild & scenic Smith River and features stunning sites amongst an ancient stand of thousand year (plus) year old Redwoods.

Mill Creek Campground

Location: Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park
Dates: May – September
# of Campsites: 145 sites
RV: Max 28 feet – No hookups

Description: Mill Creek is the largest campground in Redwood National Park with 145 sites. While the trees at Mill Creek are not as old or massive as those in Jedediah Smith, the campground is beautifully situated just the same.

Elk Prairie Campground

Location: Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
Dates: Year Round
# of Campsites: 75 sites
RV: Max 27 feet – No hookups

Description: Elk Prairie Campground is another beautiful campground featuring the best access to the park’s roaming Roosevelt Elk population (although Gold Bluffs Beach is great as well). This campground is located in the Prairie Creek Redwoods.

Gold Bluffs Beach Campground

Location: Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
Dates: Year Round
# of Campsites: 26 sites
RV: Max 24 feet (no trailers) – No hookups

Description: Gold Bluffs Beach campground is one of my all time favorite national park campgrounds. It has a breathtaking location right on the beach and gives campers that wonderful experience of being lulled to sleep by the sound of the ocean.

The campground is located just down the road from the world-famous Fern Canyon.

For more camping information visit the NPS Camping page.

Redwood Cabins

There are eight ADA accessible cabins available to rent in Redwood National Park. Four cabins are located in the Jedediah Smith Campground and four are located in the Elk Prairie Campground.

The cabins are available to rent via RESERVE CALIFORNIA.


Lodging

Surprisingly enough there are no official park lodges located within Redwood National Park. The two most popular towns to stay when visiting the park are Crescent City & Klamath Falls.

I recommend booking a place in Crescent City as it’s located closer to the main park attractions and has all the creature comforts you could hope for.


Favorite Local Restaurant

When I visit the Redwoods (and am looking for a nicer meal than usual) I’ll stop in at the Chart House in Crescent City. It’s on the spendier side but a great spot nonetheless.


Photo Gallery – Redwood National Park

Photos of the Redwood Forests from the production of our Redwood Film.


Redwood National Park Fun Facts

1. Redwood National Park is home to the tallest tree in the world.

The tallest tree in the world is located in Redwood National Park and is named Hyperion. This tree is estimated to be 379 feet tall! For comparison, that’s taller than Big Ben and The Statue of Liberty. It’s exact location is kept under wraps to prevent harm from befalling the noble giant.​

2. Some of the Redwoods are old, like really old.

The oldest recorded living Redwoods are estimated to be more than 2,200 years old!​ The great pyramids were still being built when some of these trees were sprouts.

3. Redwoods have really thick bark.

Redwood trees have incredibly thick bark. We’re talking up to a foot thick! The thickness of the bark serves to protect these giants from pesky pests and forest fires.

4. Redwoods live off of fog.

It’s true! Redwood trees depend heavily on coastal fog to survive. It is estimated that up to 40% of Redwood’s water intake comes from fog.

5. Redwoods have an extremely shallow root system, relatively speaking.​

Redwood trees have a very shallow root system relative to their height. Their roots only go down 6 to 12 feet into the earth. So then how do they stay up you might ask?

While their root system is shallow, it makes is incredibly wide extending up to 100ft out from the tree itself and interlocking its roots with the roots of other redwoods creating a stability network.


Nearby Attractions to the Redwoods

  • Six Rivers National Forest
  • Shasta Trinity National Forest
  • Crater Lake National Park
  • Lassen Volcanic National Park

Is there a Redwood National Forest? No but there is a Redwood Forest!

Yes and no. There is no national forest with the name “Redwood National Forest”. However, Six Rivers National Forest has many redwood trees in it.


Redwoods Summary | Leave Us a Comment!

That’s a wrap folks! Hopefully you feel like you’ve got a good handle on your next trip to Redwood National Park. Please leave me a comment below and let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Hope to see you on the trails sometime soon!


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Will Pattiz

Co-founder of More Than Just Parks. Husband. Conservationist. Currently living in NYC.

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