Redwood National and State Parks are not your typical national park - you don't arrive at a park entrance, drive the scenic road, then leave. It's actually a string of forests along the northern California coast, home to dense growth and the tallest trees on the entire planet. There's plenty to do in Redwood National Park, so pack up your car and hit the road to spot some of the awe-inspiring and 'this makes me feel tiny' places along the way.
How to Get to Redwood National Park
Redwood National and State Parks are in the uppermost left corner of California right along the coast. We drove down from Vancouver, stopping at many national parks and coastlines and cities like Seattle and Portland along the way, which took a few days, before crossing the Oregon-California border at Brookings. If you drive direct, it's an 11-hour drive down the coast from Vancouver, 8 hours from Seattle, 5 1/4 hours from Portland...aka the perfect excuse for a roadtrip. If you're coming from the major Californian cities, it's 5 1/2 hours north of San Francisco, or 11 hours from Los Angeles.
The closest international airports are in Sacramento and in San Francisco, both further down the California coast.
Where to Camp in Redwood National Park
We stayed at the Emerald Forest Campground near Trinidad State Beach. Just south of Jedediah Smith State Park, this is a great, central location right in the middle of the main attractions of the national park. It's a large campground with the nicest bathrooms we've ever seen at a campground and a lovely host and camp store. When picking out a tent, get a spacious one that will ward off rain and damp as well as those pesky mosquitoes. We own a 3-person Coleman dome tent that very comfortably fits our air mattress with room to move.
Things to See in Redwood National and State Parks
Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
If you're coming from the north, this will be your first introduction to the majestic redwoods of the region. Just a few miles from the famous California coast, Jedediah Smith is packed with tall and ancient redwoods. Of the entire population of redwoods remaining on earth, a whopping 7% are in Jedediah Smith alone!
Named for Jedediah Smith who, in the 1820s, was the first caucasian man to explore the region, the park is now home to fishing and kayaking on the Smith River, historic drives and scenic byways and stunning rainforest trails.
Thick redwood forest, banana slugs, a beautiful river, and pollywogs. What more could you ask for?
Humboldt Redwoods State Park and Avenue of the Giants
This was our favourite place to see the majestic trees that gave the national park its namesake. A fantastic route called the Avenue of the Giants is a 32-mile stretch that winds through the redwoods, with a number of informative stops and groves along the way where you can get up close and personal with these gentle giants.
In the early 1900s, the trees in the current park boundaries were sought for logging. The Save the Redwoods League was established to raise millions of dollars to save these grand trees and establish protected land, which today is 53,000 acres big. This makes Humboldt Redwoods State Park the largest collection of redwoods left on earth.