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There is a park located in Northern California, the Redwood National Park, that is the home to nearly half of all the remaining tallest trees in the world, the Coastal Redwood or Sequoia Sempervirens. These stunning gigantic trees can reach heights of up to 380 ft for the tallest specimens and can have trunks as wide as 20 feet in diameter. This is an unbelievable size that is very hard to imagine unless you have been there.
When you are standing amongst these divine giants, it is hard not to contemplate your place in the world because they are so imposing and awe-inspiring that you will immediately think about how the world works or existence in general. It is the sheer size of these Redwoods that makes you think about things so much bigger than yourself because they make you feel so small and insignificant.
They really are that large, and if you have never been to see them, then you are missing out on an amazing life experience. Plus, if you are looking to go soon, then you should have a plan because there is more land to cover, trails to hike, campgrounds to choose from, old-growth groves of humongous Redwood trees, and scenic drives to make that it would take a person weeks or even months to cover it all.
So, what are the best places to visit? What trails are can’t miss hikes? Where are the great scenic drives to cruise while taking a break between hiking the different trails or for those unable to do all that excessive amounts of hiking? Well, we are here to provide you this guide to Redwood National Park, so stick with us. But first, check out these amazing and interestingly fun facts about the park:
Interesting Facts about Redwood National Park
- The Redwood National Park, along with the 3 state parks that share its borders, is home to approximately 45% of all the remaining Coastal Redwood in the world.
- The Coastal Redwood is the tallest species of trees in the world and can reach spectacular heights. The tallest being about 380 ft, which is about 60 feet taller than our Statue of Liberty in New York City.
- The park has such incredible scenery that it has been featured in a variety of movies from Jurassic Park Lost World to Star Wars 6 (the Endor scenes) and more.
- That part of the old-growth Redwood forest was designated as a national park in 1968. It was created to be free for all visitors and remains that way to this day. That is the national park section only that is free, but the surrounding state parks charge various fees for entry, parking/day use, and camping.
- The town base that supports the park(s) is named Crescent City and they get most of their economic activity based around visitors/tourists.
- Some of the oldest Coastal Redwoods are around 2,500 years old. This means that they began life during the Roman Empire and are still living to this day.
- The Redwood National Park alone is 71,715 acres large and includes 19,640 acres of protected old-growth forest.
Where to stay
There are quite a few places to stay the night while visiting the Redwood National Park, and they include everything from hotels to cabins and even campgrounds. Here are a few of the best places for lodging in or near the park itself that give you easy access to explore the various old-growth groves over multiple days.
Trinidad Inn – A rustic, rugged, and quaint little hotel nestled away within the forest about a half-hour drive from the park itself near the town of Trinidad, CA. Features standard hotel rooms with single or double bed rooms and some rooms even have kitchenettes within them.
Lost Whale Inn – Also in or near the town of Trinidad, CA, is this scenic hotel with incredible oceanfront views from many rooms. It is only 45 minutes from the park and features more modern hotel rooms and a spa for visitors to enjoy.
Elk Meadow Cabins – Just outside Orick, CA, mere minutes outside of the park, these cabins are tastefully furnished and decorated. You will have a comforting feeling like you are staying at a beloved grandmother’s home while staying in these amazing cabins.
Woodland Villa Cabins – A pet-friendly establishment with one to three-bedroom cabins available. There are plenty of amenities at these cabins, like fire pits, picnic tables, and even a pizzeria/deli and market. Everything you could need for a great vacation is within reach while staying here and you are nearly inside the park already when you wake up in these cabins.
Developed Campgrounds – There are several developed campgrounds spread throughout the park for overnight stays. Reservations are strongly recommended as they get booked up months in advance, especially for busy holiday weekends. These campgrounds each have various amenities such as bathrooms and showers.
Backcountry Camping – You can stay in some of the backcountry campgrounds if you’re up to hike in a few miles with all your camping gear on your back that is. Of course, you need to pay for a permit to take advantage of this lodging option within the park’s borders and there are designated areas for camping even deep within the forest. Just keep in mind that the park is full of mountain lions, bears, and herds of elk. So, you will be sharing the forest with the wildlife and should be cautious but enjoy the peacefulness of it as well.
Where to hike
Klamath Overlook Trail
This trail leads the way to some awe-inspiring views of the mouth of the Klamath River. It is a simple and short trail that you walk out the same way you walk in, not a loop trail. You can catch views of bald eagles, osprey, and more great birds from the 600 ft elevation viewpoint looking out from above the Pacific Ocean.
Length – 1 mile approximately each way, in and out
Difficulty – Very easy
Location – Along Requa Road just downriver on the Klamath from the town of Requa
Tall Trees Grove Loop Trail
This amazing hike takes you through some breath=taking views of some of the tallest stands of trees in a couple of separate old-growth groves. You do need to apply for a permit in advance in order to receive your pass along with the lock combination for the gates to get to the trailhead, along with directions for reaching this well-kept secret.
Length – 3.3 mile loop
Difficulty – Medium to moderate, takes nearly 2 hours to accomplish the loop for the average hiker, some more experienced hikers can manage it in as short as 75 minutes.
Location – Unknown, must apply for a permit to get the directions and gate lock combinations to reach the trailhead.
Skunk Cabbage Trail
A wonderful out and back hiking trail that takes you through some tall groves of trees and meadows. Through fern covered forest floors and over creeks using small bridges. It is a wonderful hike and you can go all the way in on the 2 hours each way hike or turn around at any point and make your way back, but it will be hard to turn around for the fear of missing the next amazing, jaw-dropping view. The calming atmosphere along this trail feels heavy like a comfortable blanket wrapping around you.
Length – 7.3 miles each way
Difficulty – Moderate (not only because of length but also because you gain nearly 1,300 feet along the journey.
Location – Located just outside of the town of Orick, CA.
Best Scenic Drives
Bald Hills Road
A 17 mile each way trip that takes you from Highway 101 up to the Lyons Ranch Trailhead. This road is how you access various scenic hikes and includes the trailheads for Lady Bird Johnson Trail and the Tall Trees Grove Trail. It is full of wonderful scenery including tall redwoods, meadows, and prairies where you just may spot some of the local elk herds, and also views of the Redwood Creek. The road is only paved for about the first 14 miles, after that it is all packed gravel and dirt road so not recommended for RVs and people towing trailers. It will take you about 2 hours to make your way all the way in and back out again if you do the whole trip, but you can turn around and any one of the various turnaround points along the way.
Just 2 ½ miles north of the town of Klamath, CA, this beautiful trip will take you out to the viewpoint above the Klamath River’s mouth where the river meets the ocean. You can catch some whales migrating along the coastline or one of the resident bald eagles and osprey. The road itself is only 2 ½ miles as well, and you can manage the whole distance in and out to the Klamath River Trailhead in about 20 minutes each way. Catch plenty of views of tall stands of trees along with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean too.
Whether you are an avid outdoor type who loves being out in the woods, or a more homebound type of person there is something for you to enjoy in the Redwood National Park. You can hike along and catch some life-changing views of the tallest trees in the world that will make you feel tiny in comparison, or you can just enjoy a scenic drive through some of the medium-height trees of a meager 250 feet tall. No matter what you do, the experience you get from this place is divine and you will notice the regal nature of nature itself while you visit amongst the old-growth forests.
Also, visiting helps to maintain the protected forest areas and will ensure that further generations will be able to enjoy the tallest trees in the world. So, get out there and save some of the most stunningly awesome groves of Coastal Redwoods in the entire world, right here in our own backyard.