The National Park Service and California State Parks work together to manage the Redwood National and State Parks, a collection of four magnificent parks. Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park are the four parks.
Together, these parks house 45% of the ancient coast redwood forests still under protection in the world. It has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with Stonehenge, the Egyptian Pyramids, and the Great Barrier Reef because the location is so extraordinary and priceless.
Best Places to Visit in Redwood National Park
You almost always come across tall coast redwoods, tranquil meadows, a dramatic coastline, and inspiring wildlife. We list some of our favorite locations here.
1. Glen Fern Canyon, California
The name makes it clear what to expect, but it doesn’t adequately describe the size of the canyon or the sheer volume of ferns. The canyon walls, which rise from a creek, can reach heights of 50 feet and are entirely covered in ferns and mosses, some of which are species that have existed on Earth for hundreds of millions of years.
A portion of The Lost World: Jurassic Park was filmed here, so it’s not just the prehistoric vegetation that gives the impression that you’re strolling through Jurassic Park. A number of other dinosaur specials produced for the BBC and IMAX have also been filmed in Fern Canyon. You might even see a giant salamander, adding to the otherworldly atmosphere!
2. Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center
It’s a good idea to get acquainted with the area at a visitor center because there is a lot to see in Redwood National Park and the three neighboring state parks. If you’re traveling from the south, the Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center in Orick is the most practical.
With the exception of New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, it is open every day. It offers exhibitions, talks, and interpretive programs. You can also purchase junior ranger activity books for the kids to complete as they collect stamps.
3. Grove of Tall Trees
Spending time with tall trees is a key component of experiencing the redwoods, so visiting Tall Trees Grove makes sense.
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The giants in this area are over 100 meters tall, or 35 stories high. The world’s tallest tree was once located in the grove, but since its top fell off in 1994, it has dropped to the 34th-tallest position, which is still quite impressive.
(The new tallest tree is actually nearby, but we won’t say where.) The entire trail is 3.5 miles long, including a mile to reach the grove and a brief loop through it.
4. Trail in Lady Bird Johnson Grove
It can be challenging for any one area to stand out because the redwood trees in the parks can begin to blend together. Lady Bird Johnson Grove, however, will. There’s a good reason Johnson named this enchanting area of tall trees and rolling fog after herself. The grove is special because you have to travel uphill to reach the trailhead.
The majority of the groves in the park are located in the lowlands, but this one is elevated, so you frequently find yourself in the clouds as the mist rushes in around the trees.
5. Beach at Endert
The journey to this isolated beach is worthwhile, especially at low tide when the tide pools are teeming with sea stars, sea urchins, and green anemones. From the trailhead for the Coastal Trail, past the campground at Nickel Creek, it takes about a mile to reach the sandy, deserted beach on foot. It’s up to you where you go from there and how long you spend exploring the tide pools.
Winter landslides may momentarily block access to the beach from the campsite and to the trail leading to the Nickel Creek campsite.
6. Overlook of the Klamath River
Naturally, the redwoods in Redwood National Park are its most famous feature, but the area also has a lengthy coastline. The Klamath River Overlook offers a breathtaking view of the water and is a great place to spot whales where the river meets the Pacific.
There is a resident pod that hangs out close to the overlook, but you can also see migratory whales in March April, November, and December.
7. Museum and Lighthouse at Battery Point
Battery Point was one of the first lighthouses built along the California coast, and today, with its distinctive island location, it makes for an interesting historical visit. The lighthouse and accompanying museum are run by the Del Norte County Historical Society and are open every day in the summer but only on weekends from October to March.
Notably, only at low tide is the public allowed access to the lighthouse. The land bridge, which guests must cross, can quickly become submerged when the tide comes in.
8. The Scenic Parkway of Newton B. Drury
The scenic parkway in Prairie Creek State Park is ten miles long and takes you through a tunnel of towering redwoods. Check out the elk through the car window. Conveniently, the parkway begins close to the Prairie Creek Visitor Center.
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As you travel along it, you pass several trailheads, including the Big Tree, which is 68 feet in diameter and 1,500 years old. The paved road is open from sunrise to sunset and is ideal for a brief driving tour.
9. State Park at the Humboldt Lagoons
Although Humboldt Lagoons is not one of the Redwood National and State Parks, it is a local favorite. This state park is home to three of the biggest lagoon systems in the country: Freshwater, Stone, and Big Lagoon (from north to south). The least populated and remote area is Freshwater, while Big Lagoon even has camping areas and kayak rentals.
The presence of marshes, wetlands, coastal sands, and scrub bushes allows a variety of wildlife to live in or close to these shallow waters. You might spot fish like salmon and trout or birds like grebes, herons, and osprey if you keep an eye out while hiking, swimming, or boating.
10. The Mysterious Trees
Yes, there is a tinge of the cheese factor associated with American road trips, but for a family traveling on Highway 101 from Northern California to Oregon, this stop would be a home run. In the miles of coastal redwood forests, 36 miles south of the Oregon border, Paul and Babe show up just in time for you to use the restroom and have a chance to walk some of the interpretive trails.
Fight the urge to be skeptical and give it a shot. Since the park has been owned by the same family for the past 67 years, they have a sincere desire to preserve these magnificent trees and educate the public, all while injecting copious amounts of humor.
The Redwood National & State Parks in Northern California offer a plethora of breathtaking activities. The mighty Redwood, the tallest tree in the world that can grow to staggering heights of over 360 feet and weigh more than 500 tons, can be found in this park.
These parks contain one of the largest herds of Roosevelt elk on the planet, as well as fantastic beaches, magical forests, and breathtaking overlooks. Every day, visitors come from all over the world to this park to take part in the magic.