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There are so many awesome things to do in Redwood National Park! Located along the Northern California coast, Redwood National and State Parks (RNSP) are home to some massive redwood trees, coastal trails, and scenic drives. This national park should definitely be on your bucket list!
Redwood National Park Overview
One important thing to note – the area technically consists of the national park as well as 3 state parks: Jedediah Smith State Park, Prairie Creek State Park and Del Norte State Park. Together, these areas make up Redwood National and State Parks (RNSP). When looking for the best things to do in Redwood National Park – don’t get too caught up in which hikes are in the state parks vs the national park, because they are all under the same entity.
Redwood National Park is wayyy up in Northern California – very close to the Oregon border. The closest international airport is San Francisco, Sacramento or Portland. It’s about a 5.5 hour drive from each of these airports. You could also try flying into the regional airports of Eugene, OR, Medford, OR or Eureka, CA for a closer drive!
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Redwood National and State Park Entrance Fees
It cost $8 to enter each state park. The entrance to the actual national park is free. I recommend buying the America the Beautiful pass if you will be visiting several national parks this year!
Where to Stay in Redwood National Park:
There are 4 campgrounds located within Redwood National and State Parks for a fee of $35/night. Make sure you reserve far in advance to secure a spot!
You can also get a walk-up permit for backcountry camping on the day-of if you are interested in being more off-the-grid.
Lodging near Redwood National Park
If you’re coming from the south – I highly recommend staying at Trinidad Bay Bed & Breakfast. This Cape-Cod-style home features spacious rooms with California King beds with spectacular ocean views, and a 3-course breakfast!
If you’re arriving from the north, stay in nearby Crescent City. I’ve heard great things about the Lighthouse Inn, which is close to the water and also conveniently located to restaurants in town.
The most centrally-located hotel to Redwood National Park is the Holiday Inn Express in Klamath. It has great reviews, and is within about a 20 minute drive to most sections of the park. There’s also a few Airbnb’s that are centrally located, like this 3-bedroom cottage in Klamath.
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When to Visit Redwood National Park
Redwood National Park is open year-round. Summer is the peak season, and in winter you’ll encounter more rain. The best time to go to avoid the crowds but have the best weather is late August-September.
The Best Things to Do in Redwood National Park
There are so many awesome things to do in Redwood National Park. I’ve listed my favorites below, in geographical order from North to South to make it easier for you to plan!
Stout Grove Trail
Stout Grove Trail is a beautiful and easy 0.7-mile loop trail that will get you right in the center of some majestic Redwood trees. It’s absolutely beautiful! Note that the road to get here is narrow, so be careful if you are in an RV or trailer! We were in a 25-foot RV and made it to the parking area safely, but it was a bit nerve-wracking.
Did you know that some of the best things to do in Redwood National Park involve coastal trails and scenic overlooks? I didn’t either, until I visited! Head to Klamath Overlook for a 1-mile scenic trail with amazing views of the coast below. If you’re here in the right season, you’ll have a chance for some whale sightings from up here!
About 25 minutes south of Klamath Overlook, you’ll arrive at Elk Prairie. At this meadow, you’re pretty much guaranteed an Elk sighting! They love to hang out here and graze. It’s awesome to see so many at once, but make sure to be smart and not get too close!
Cathedral Tree Trail Loop
Right next to Elk Prairie and the Prairie Creek State Park Visitor Center, you’ll see the trailhead for the Cathedral Tree Trail Loop. This 2.5 mile loop trail meanders through massive trees and bright green ferns. You’ll also come across the Big Tree on this hike – which is 309 feet tall! One of my favorite parts of this hike is the tunnel tree you can walk under.
This is known to be one of the best trails in Redwood National Park! Ferns cover two canyon walls as you hike along a stream. It looks like something out of a fairytale. Also, fun fact: parts of Jurassic Park were filmed here!
While the hike itself is only about a mile long, the drive to get there is quite the adventure. Unfortunately, the road is so winding and narrow that oversized vehicles are not allowed to drive it. Since we were in an RV on this trip, we were not able to go to this spot! (I’ll have to come back some day for it!)
If you don’t want to drive the narrow road to the Fern Canyon trailhead, there is another option – you are also able to get to Fern Canyon by hiking along the James Irvine Trail. I’ve heard this 10-mile hike is amazing and well worth it if you have the time!
Lady Bird Johnson Grove Trail
This 1.5 mile loop trail is one of the most popular things to do in Redwood National Park. Richard Nixon named this trail after First Lady and environmental activist Lady Bird Johnson back in 1969. This Redwood grove is filled with huge trees and colorful flowers. There are also signs throughout the trail which are helpful to provide more meaning and context behind the trees themselves. I found this trail to be super peaceful and scenic, although we visited at a time when there were no crowds!
Drive Through a Tree
Driving through a tree is one of the most unique things to do in Redwood National Park! We weren’t able to do this on our visit since we were in a big RV, however if you are in a car and want to experience this – there are 3 options:
- Klamath Tree – in a central area of the park. $5/car
- Shrine Tree – close to the town of Eureka. $10/car
- Chandelier Tree – in Leggett. $10/car
Avenue of the Giants
Ok – so this isn’t technically located within Redwood National and State Parks, however it’s close-by (in Humboldt Redwoods State Park) and definitely worth passing through when you are in the area! This 31-mile scenic highway runs parallel to the 101, with trees lining both sides. It’s a photographer’s dream! There are turnouts located throughout the highway where you can pull off, park, and walk around and explore or take pictures. From the North, enter at exit 674 in Pepperwood to start the drive.