I absolutely loved the Redwood National and State Parks (and not just because I’m a Star Wars fan)! This park system is an extraordinary example of federal and state cooperation to protect some of the last, and greatest, sequoia groves in the world.
One of the best things about these parks is their proximity to the Lost Coast, the cute towns of Eureka and Trinidad, and other great stops along highway 101. So while this guide focuses on the National and State Parks, it also includes attractions in the greater Humboldt County area.
So here’s the ultimate guide to the Redwood National and State Parks!
When To Go
Summer is the peak travel season. The popular trails and drives will be packed with cars and people, so start your days early to beat some of the crowds. You’ll want to book your accommodation – whether it’s a hotel, campground, or RV site – in advance. The weather is perfect in the summer – sunny with cool breezes during the day, and you’ll still want a layer in the mornings and evenings.
Winter has lots of rain, which can wash out some of the trails and roads. Some campgrounds and many accommodation and restaurants are closed for the season. For these months, bring warm clothes, rain gear, and a high-clearance vehicle to navigate the roads that lead to some of the best trails.
Spring and Fall are the best seasons to visit for good weather (mostly sunny, but still quite chilly at times) and lower crowds and prices. Everything – restaurants, campgrounds, accommodations – should be open during these months, and you won’t need to book as far in advance.
What To Do
I highly recommend starting your trip at the Kuchel Visitor Center, which has fantastic exhibits and films on the parks. Plus, this information desk and book store are the best in all the parks’ visitor centers.
Hikes: Fern Canyon (pictured above) is my favorite hike (easy to moderate). Read my Instagram post about my wrong-turn adventure in Fern Canyon that you can avoid or recreate (because it ended up being a great mistake). The Rockefeller Loop (my second favorite hike, easy); Tall Trees Trail (moderate, requires a free permit from the Kuchel Visitor Center); Trillium Falls (moderate), Coastal Trail – Last Chance Section (strenuous); James Irvine/Clintonia/Miner’s Ridge (moderate).
Scenic Drives: Avenue of the Giants (aka the filming site for the Forest Moon of Endor in Star Wars Return of the Jedi, flat and paved suitable for all cars, RV’s, and trailers); Coastal Drive Loop (mostly paved, but RV’s and trailers aren’t allowed); Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway (flat and paved, suitable for all vehicles, RV’s, and trailers).
Overlooks: Wedding Rock at sunset, Enderts Beach and Crescent Beach Overlook, Klamath River Overlook for possible whale sightings during certain times of the year.
Tours and Rentals: boating trips on Stone Lagoon, bike or horseback ride along Redwood Creek, a Ranger-led tide pool walk.
Where To Stay
Trinidad and Eureka are large enough towns to have accommodation options for any budget. And both of these cities make great “home bases” for exploring the area. One of the locally-owned bed and breakfasts in Trinidad would be my first recommendation!
Trinidad is one of my Top Budget Cities In The United States!
The best campgrounds and RV parks are inside the parks, but these fill up fast, so make sure you book in advance. The Elk Prairie Campground and the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park each have four cabins that need to be reserved well in advance of your stay.
There’s also the Redwood Hotel Casino in Klamath, which is conveniently located within the boundaries of the Redwood National and State Park system. You’ve also got lots of Airbnbs near the parks.
My Favorite Guide Books
Know Before You Go
There are no food vendors or restaurants inside any of the Redwood parks, so I recommend packing your lunch out each day. There are plenty of convenience and grocery store options off Highway 101. And Trinidad and Eureka have an abundance of fast-food and sit-down restaurants.
Always have some snacks with you, but make sure they won’t attract any wildlife.
Most of the parks are free, but Prairie Creek Redwoods, Del Norte Coast Redwoods, and Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Parks charge fees, where many trailheads are located. You’ll usually need to have exact change or pay with a credit card.
Out of 62 U.S. National Parks, this is the 21st least visited park. So while overall crowds will be relatively low, the popular trails and drives can still be packed in the summer.
Some hikes are only accessible by dirt roads that can flood, so always check the parks’ website for current road conditions.
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Is there anything you’d add to this Redwood National and State Parks travel guide? If so, let me know in the comments!
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This post is not a sponsored post, and, as always, the thoughts and opinions expressed in this article about how to plan a trip to the Redwood National and State Parks are entirely my own. Some of these links are affiliate links, and, at no cost to you, I may earn a small commission.