25 Amazing Things to Do at Redwood National Park in 2021

Stout GroveKlamath River Overlook in Redwood National Park

Redwood National Park is home to the world’s tallest trees and old-growth redwood forests. Many of the trees in the forest of over 300 feet tall and 2,000 years old. The redwoods alone are enough to make this park worth visiting. But Redwood National Park has much more to offer than just majestic, giant trees!

In Redwood National Park, you’ll find a wide array of old-growth forests, coastal drives and hikes, and activities for every type of national park lover. From hikes to scenic drives to educational visitor centers, this guide takes you through the best things to do at Redwood National Park.

This post shares the best things to do in Redwood, including:

  • Best Hikes and Trails
  • Best Scenic Viewpoints
  • Top Rated Scenic Drives
  • Must-See Beaches and Coastline
  • Excellent Wildlife Sightings
  • Best Redwood National Park Visitor Centers
  • And more amazing nearby attractions!
Best Things to Do at Redwood National Park Pinterest Pin
Best Things to Do at Redwood National Park Pinterest Pin

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Looking for more guides to plan your trip to Redwood National Park? Check out these posts!

Planning a trip to Redwood National Park? Don’t miss your copy of this free, printable guide to all of Redwood’s best campsites – the only way to stay inside the park!

Overview of Redwood National & State Parks

Redwood National Park is located 6 hours north of San Francisco and 6 hours south of Portland. Tucked away in Northern California, this park offers an excellent getaway from major cities and the perfect outdoor escape.

Unlike other national parks, Redwood National Park is actually part of a partnership with several California State Parks. Together, these parks make up Redwood National and State Parks. This joint park is a unique partnership between 3 California State Parks and 1 national park:

  • Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
  • Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park
  • Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
  • Redwood National Park

Together, these parks protect half of the world’s old-growth redwoods with nearly 40,000 acres of an old-growth redwood forest. When most people refer to ‘Redwood National Park’, they are typically referring to the aggregated land protected across all 4 parks. In this guide, you’ll find the best things to do in all 4 parks.

Read More: Ultimate Guide to Visiting Redwood National Park in 2021

How Many Days to ​​Visit the Redwood National Park Must See Places?

To see the highlights in Redwood National Park, you’ll need at least 2 to 3 days. There’s such a wide variety of things to do in Redwood National and State Parks, that you could spend a week trying to see it all!

For a longer trip, consider combining your trip to Redwood with a scenic drive of the Lost Coast or a road trip to Oregon or Lassen Volcanic National Park.

Read More: Ultimate Lost Coast Road Trip Guide

Where to Stay Near the Best Things to Do in Redwood National Park

Unlike other national parks, Redwood National and State Parks don’t have any lodges or hotels inside the park boundaries. To stay inside the park, you’ll need to stay at one of the park’s 4 campgrounds.

Eureka, California near Redwood National Park
Victorian Homes in Eureka, California

Hotels & Cabins

There are several gateway towns near the redwoods that provide hotel and motel accommodations. The best towns to stay in include Eureka, Klamath, and Crescent City. 

If you’re interested in staying in a hotel or cabin, I recommend picking from these options:

For more unique stays and cabins near the park, check out Airbnb, VRBO, or Hipcamp.

Campground in Redwood National Park

Campgrounds

The park’s 4 developed campgrounds are spread across the 3 redwood state parks (there isn’t a campground in Redwood National Park!). All 4 of the park’s campgrounds are reservable through Reserve California. While reservations aren’t quite as competitive as other more popular national parks, they will still fill up months in advance in the summer. I always recommend making a campground reservation as soon as you’ve finalized your trip.

There are 300 campsites spread across the 4 campgrounds. All have basic amenities like restrooms with showers, food lockers, and fire pits.

  • Mill Creek Campground
    • Park: Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park
    • Open: May to September
    • RV Accommodations: Max 28 feet; No hookups
  • Elk Prairie Campground
    • Park: Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
    • Open: All year
    • RV Accommodations: Max 27 feet; No hookups

Planning a trip to Redwood National Park? Don’t miss your copy of this free, printable guide to all of Redwood’s best campsites – the only way to stay inside the park!

Tips for Visiting the Redwoods

  • Get the America the Beautiful National Park Pass. This covers your entry to all 4 parks in Redwood National and State Parks. Plus, with the annual park pass, you’ll get entry to all 60+ national parks and 400+ monuments, historic sites, and more. Get your national park pass for only $80 here. 
  • There are no restaurants or shops inside the park. You’ll need to plan ahead and pack lunches and snacks to keep you going while exploring the parks. Just outside the parks in Trinidad, Orick, and Klamath, you’ll find both restaurants and lodging options.
  • Google Maps is known to be unreliable in this area. Instead, rely on the official park maps for navigating to and from trailheads if Google Maps seems to be sending you in a weird direction.
  • Always check road and trail conditions for heading out. Rain, fallen trees, and landslides are rapidly changing conditions in the park. Before you begin any of the scenic drives or hikes in the region, check trail conditions on the park website or with a ranger at any of the visitor centers. 
  • Fill up on gas. There are no gas stations in the park. Before starting any of the scenic drives or driving to a trailhead, make sure your car has plenty of gas to make it both there and back. 
  • Download maps offline in the Google Maps app. This will allow you to navigate without cell service. I prefer to download the entire area I’ll be passing through. It doesn’t take up much space and is a great safety precaution.

Read More: The Ultimate Guide to Visiting Redwood National Park in 2021

Best Hiking Things to Do Redwood National Park

One of the best things to do in Redwood National Park is hiking. The park’s many trails take you to redwood groves, ocean views, and more!

Tall Trees GroveKlamath River Overlook in Redwood National Park

1. Hike Tall Trees Grove

Park: Redwood National Park

The 4-mile moderate Tall Trees Grove Trail is one of the best in Redwood National Park. It’s home to the world’s tallest tree, Hyperion, which stands at 379 feet tall. To put it in perspective, that’s taller than the Statue of Liberty and more than half the height of the Seattle Space Needle! 

Walk slowly, crane your neck, and soak up the feeling of being a tiny ant on the forest floor as you walk amongst 350+ tall redwoods.

The exact location of Hyperion is kept secret to avoid over-tourism and damage to the surrounding redwood trees. To limit the crowds, hikers are required to get a free permit in advance. Generally, permits aren’t that hard to get if you plan ahead. Visitors can apply for the online permit here, from 4 weeks to 48 hours out.

Fern Canyon in Redwood National Park

2. Hike Fern Canyon

Park: Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

Fern Canyon is, as you might expect, a 50-foot canyon covered in ancient, prehistoric-looking ferns. So prehistoric in fact that this trail was a filming location for Jurassic Park 2. Some of these ferns are part of an ancient species, dating back 325 million years.

The easiest way to get to Fern Canyon is from the 1-mile loop trail located at the end of Davison Road past Gold Bluffs Beach. This easy trail winds along a creek bed through the canyon with spectacular views.

This 10-mile Davison Road is unpaved and can be difficult to traverse after a rainstorm. Check with park rangers at the Kuchel Visitor Center before attempting to drive Davison Road if you don’t have a high clearance vehicle.  Since Fern Canyon is a popular trail, aim to arrive in the morning to get a parking spot.

Stout GroveKlamath River Overlook in Redwood National Park

3. Hike Stout Grove

Park: Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park

Stout Grove is home to a 44-acre grove of old-growth redwood trees in the heart of Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park along the Smith River. Since many of the trees here are hundreds if not thousands of years old, it’s not uncommon to see redwoods over 300 feet tall in this grove.

This trail is easy and family-friendly at only 0.5 miles. You can access the trailhead either from the end of the scenic drive along Howland Hill Road or from Jedediah Smith Campground (perfect for if you’re camping there!).

The Smith River that runs along the trail is a popular place for an afternoon picnic or quick dip in the water. 

Lady Bird Johnson GroveKlamath River Overlook in Redwood National Park

4. Hike Lady Bird Johson Grove

Park: Redwood National Park

This short 1.5-mile trail through a popular redwood grove is one of the most popular groves in the park. The redwoods found here are old-growth, many over 2,000 years old. As you hike, you’ll pass through forests of redwoods and other evergreen coniferous trees. 

The grove gets its name from the former first lady of the United States, Lady Bird Johnson, who dedicated Redwood National Park in 1968. She was an activist for the creation of national parks during her time in the White House.

Today, you’ll find educational signs are scattered along the trail, making this the perfect trail for the family to learn about the redwoods.

Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park trail

5. Hike Prairie Creek & Cathedral Loop

Park: Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

The 3.2 mile trail from Prairie Creek Visitor Center winds along the Cathedral Trail, passing popular attractions like Big Tree Wayside and Elk Prairie. This loop trail is a perfect introduction to the old-growth redwoods in this region. 

Start your hike on the popular Prairie Creek trail. Walk amongst the redwoods and along Prairie Creek. After following the Prairie Creek trail, reunite with Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway

Across the road, follow the trail to Big Tree Wayside – one of the biggest trees in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. After checking out the big tree, follow the Cathedral Tree Trail back to the Prairie Creek Visitor Center. Keep your eyes peeled near the visitor center for the area’s famous Roosevelt elk!

Trillium FallsKlamath River Overlook in Redwood National Park

6. Hike Trillium Falls

Park: Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

The lush redwood forests are surrounded by ocean and rivers, so it’s only natural that you’d find a waterfall nestled in the redwoods. The short, family-friendly trail takes you through an old-growth redwood forest to the 10-foot tall Trillium Falls. 

But this trail has more than just waterfalls and redwoods! You’ll also find flowers, ferns, and fir trees. The trail to Trillium Falls also passes through an area that is home to the Roosevelt Elk herds that live in the park. You have a good chance of spotting one on your hike – just don’t forget your binoculars!

James Irvine Trail in Redwood National Park

7. Hike James Irvine Trail

Park: Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

This 12 mile loop is the most popular of the longer-distance hikes in the park. You’ll cross creeks and pass through old-growth redwood groves as you hike out to Fern Canyon. This is the perfect trail for those that want to visit Fern Canyon, but either can’t drive Davison Road or want a longer, more challenging hike.

The trail starts and ends at the Prairie Creek Visitor Center. You take the James Irvine Trail on the way out and the Miner’s Ridge on the way back to complete as a loop. This all day hike gives you the best views in the park – redwoods, old-growth forests, roosevelt elk, and plenty of ferns.

Boy Scout Tree Trail in Redwood National Park

8. Hike Boy Scout Tree Trail

Park: Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park

The Boy Scout Tree Trail is one of the more challenging, yet most scenic, hikes in the park. If you’re looking for solitude amongst the redwoods, this is the trail for you! The 5.5 mile round trip trail passes through groves of giant redwoods with forest floors covered in ferns. You’ll feel just like you’re walking on Endor with the Ewoks (they filmed the movie here!).

The trail starts off the scenic dirt drive, Howland Hill Road in the northern area of the park. If you’re looking to make a day out of this area of the park, combine this hike with the Stout Grove Trail also located off Howland Hill Road.

Coastal Trail in Redwood National Park

9. Hike the Coastal Trail

Park: Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

The Coastal Trail is the premier backpacking trail in Redwood National and State Parks. It runs for 70 miles along the coastline passing through 3 parks: Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, and Redwood National Park. 

The trail starts at Crescent Beach Overlook in Del Norte Park and heads all the way south to Elk Meadow in Redwood National Park. But you don’t have to hike the full trail to enjoy the scenery it has to offer!

To experience part of the Coastal Trail on a short day hike, consider hiking the section from Gold Bluffs Beach to Fern Canyon or the short section from Crescent Beach Overlook to Enderts Beach. 

Read More: 12 Best Hikes in Redwood National Park

Best Viewpoints & Driving Things to Do in Redwoods

Redwood National Park is one of the more accessible national parks thanks to its plentiful scenic drives. You can see many of the park’s old-growth redwood groves from the comfort of your car or on short walking paths along scenic drives.

Redwood Creek OverlookKlamath River Overlook in Redwood National Park

10. See Redwood Creek Overlook

Park: Redwood National Park

For an epic sunset view, head to Redwood Creek Overlook. This vantage point overlooks old-growth redwoods in the heart of Redwood National Park, just off Bald Hills Road

In the evenings, fog can settle into the tree-filled valley below and out to the ocean, making for an excellent photo opportunity. 

Crescent Beach Overlook in Redwood National Park

11. See Crescent Beach Overlook

Park: Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park

Redwood National and State Parks have so much more to offer than just redwood trees. One of the best vantage points in the park overlooks the jagged Pacific Ocean coastline.

From Crescent Beach Overlook along Enderts Beach Road, you can see photograph the coastline or head down to Enderts Beach to see the ocean and tidepools up close. Best of all, this amazing view is only a few short miles from downtown Crescent City, making it easily accessible.

Klamath River Overlook in Redwood National Park

12. See Klamath River Overlook

Park: Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park

Another must-see coastal viewpoint is Klamath River Overlook. You’ll find this vantage point off Requa Road, a short detour off Highway 101 in Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park. In the winter and early spring, this spot is an excellent place to look for migrating whales.

Newton B. Drury Scenic ParkwayKlamath River Overlook in Redwood National Park

13. Drive Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway

Park: Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

This 10 mile scenic drive passes through the heart of Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Except for Avenue of the Giants, this is one of the only places in the world where visitors can drive through the heart of an old-growth redwood grove. If you only have time for one scenic drive, make it this one!

As you drive, you’ll see skyscraping redwoods and plenty of short trails along the road for a closer look. The Ah-Pah Trail and Big Tree Wayside Trail take you up-close and personal with the park’s old redwoods. 

Keep your eyes peeled for Roosevelt elk – a rare breed of elk that can weigh over 1,000 pounds. These massive elk live in herds in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.

Howland Hill Road in Redwood National Park

14. Drive Howland Hill Road

Park: Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park

At the northern end of the park, Howland Hill Road takes you through the heart of Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. Your car squeezes between giant redwoods on an unpaved, dirt road. There are a few turn offs and trailheads scattered along the drive. 

You’ll need a normal size vehicle to drive on this road as some of the passes between trees are quite tight. RVs and trailers are not allowed on this road. 

While the drive is only 5-10 miles, it will take you at least an hour to drive thanks to the bumpy road and plentiful views. The short 0.5-mile Stout Grove or 5.5-mile Boy Scout Tree Trail is a popular break from the scenic drive. 

Bald Hills Road in Redwood National Park

15. Drive Bald Hills Road

Park: Redwood National Park

For a change of pace from the old-growth redwood groves, consider driving the Bald Hills Road scenic drive. The drive passes through meadows and open prairies high above the redwood forests. The drive climbs at a steep grade up above the hills and the redwoods for unparalleled views. 

Along the drive, Redwood Creek Overlook provides excellent, sweeping views of the surrounding valleys and forests. In the spring, the area is home to beautiful wildflowers.

Popular trails like Lady Bird Johnson Grove and Tall Trees Trail are found off sections of Bald Hills Road. 

16. Drive the Coastal Loop

Park: Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park

This scenic drive starts just off Highway 101, taking you out to the coast on a mix of paved and unpaved roads. Best driven around sunset, you’ll see the last light of the day highlight the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean below. It’s a great way to end your day with a picnic and a bottle of wine.

Start your drive on Highway 101 near Klamath. Turn off 101 onto Klamath Beach Road. Parts of this route are one-way so you must follow the route clockwise. Turn left onto Alder Camp Road and stop at High Bluff Overlook. Take Klamath Beach Road back to Highway 101 to finish your scenic drive.

Planning a trip to Redwood National Park? Don’t miss your copy of this free, printable guide to all of Redwood’s best campsites – the only way to stay inside the park!

What to Do in Redwood National Park Beyond the Redwoods

Redwood National Park isn’t famous for its beaches, but nevertheless, they are some of the most scenic parts of the park. You can explore the marine wildlife here and even pitch a tent along the ocean!

Gold Bluffs Beach in Redwood National Park

17. Camp at Gold Bluffs Beach

Park: Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

One of the best campgrounds in the park is Gold Bluffs Beach. Here you can pitch a tent on the beach amongst the sand dunes. The campground overlooks one of the most serene and picturesque Pacific Ocean sunsets.

From here you have excellent access to trails like Fern Canyon and the Coastal Trail, plus opportunities to spot the Roosevelt Elk that live nearby! In the spring, this beach can also be a great vantage point for spotting migrating whales.

Campsites at Gold Bluffs Beach have basic amenities like restrooms with showers, food lockers, and fire pits.

Planning a trip to Redwood National Park? Don’t miss your copy of this free, printable guide to all of Redwood’s best campsites – the only way to stay inside the park!

Tidepools at low tideKlamath River Overlook in Redwood National Park

18. Explore Tidepools at Enderts Beach

Park: Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park

This must-do beach hike starts at the end of Enderts Beach Road, just past Crescent Beach Overlook. The trail follows an abandoned stretch of the coastal highway before passing through a wooded area on the hike down to the beach. 

Tide pools are a popular attraction at the driftwood-filled Enderts Beach. Use tide tables to time your hike at low tide for the best chance of spotting sea creatures. Try to find starfish and sea anemone in the tide pools, but remember not to touch and leave no trace!

Best Places to Spot Wildlife in the Redwoods

Redwood National Park has plenty of different wildlife. The most popular of which are the Roosevelt Elk. In the Winter and Spring, the coastal parts of the park are a great place to watch the passing whale migration.

Roosevelt Elk grazing Klamath River Overlook in Redwood National Park

19. See the Roosevelt Elk

Park: Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

Roosevelt Elk live in herds in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. These elk are the largest of the deer family, often weighing over 1,000 pounds.

The best times to spot the elk are during mating season in the fall and calving season in May and June. Newton B. Drury Scenic Drive, Gold Bluffs Beach, and Ball Hills Road are all great places to spot elk. Just remember to give them plenty of distance and watch from a safe distance.

20. Watch the Whale Migration

Park: Prairie Creek Redwoods & Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Parks

One of the best activities in Redwood National and State Parks in winter or spring is whale watching. From November to December and March to April, visitors can spot whale passing by in the Pacific Ocean.

On a clear calm day, you can spot whales from several overlooks (don’t forget your binoculars!). Some of the best viewpoints for whale watching include Klamath River Overlook, Crescent Beach Overlook, High Bluff Overlook, and Gold Bluffs Beach.

Visitor Centers to Learn More About the Parks

Visiting the national park visitor centers is a great way to learn more about the area, the wildlife, and the surrounding nature and cultures. It’s also where you can speak with park rangers and stamp your national park passport!

21. Visit Kuchel Visitor Center

Kuchel Visitor Center is the primary visitor center for Redwood National Park. Located just off Highway 101, it’s easily accessible and makes for a quick informational stop.

Here you’ll find a few exhibits, a bookstore, and an informative park film. It’s a great place to check with rangers on road and trail conditions at the start of your day. You can also visit the Kuchel Visitor Center to learn about ranger-led programs and the Junior Ranger program.

Don’t forget to stamp your national park passport at the visitor centers – a great way to document your national park trips. Don’t have one yet? Check out this post on the best national park passports and why you need one.

22. Visit Hiouchi Redwoods Visitor Center

If you’re in the northern part of the parks, Hiouchi Visitor Center is a great stop for information on the parks. Hiouchi Visitor Center is located off Hgihway 199 in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. 

You’ll be able to get plenty of custom recommendations for your trip from park rangers, stamp your national park passport, and get a park map before exploring the northern area of the park.

Read More: The Ultimate Guide to Visiting Redwood National Park in 2021

What to Do at Redwood National Park Outside the Park

There’s plenty of amazing activities outside of the Redwood National and State Parks too! Here’s a few of my favorite things to do in the area either before or after your trip to Redwood National Park.

Avenue of the Giant in Humboldt Redwoods State Park

23. Drive Avenue of the Giants

Park: Humboldt Redwoods State Park

One of the most popular scenic drives through redwoods lies a few hours south of Redwood National Park in Humboldt Redwoods State Park. The popular drive called Avenue of the Giants runs parallel to Highway 101. 

If you’re traveling to the redwoods from the Bay Area, this scenic drive is the perfect detour. Don’t miss exploring the Dyerville Giant and a short hike along the Founder Grove Loop trail.

Pacific Ocean along the Lost Coast in California

24. Explore the Lost Coast

The Lost Coast is one of the world’s best backpacking destinations. While the only way to truly access this long stretch of rugged California coastline is on foot, driving Mattole Road can give you a sneak peek. Mattole Road starts in the quaint town of Ferndale, about 20 miles south of Eureka. 

Follow the narrow, windy Mattole Road down to Black Sands Beach. While this stretch of road is only 20 miles, drive slowly and take at least an hour to soak in the views. Continue along Mattole Road, through small towns like Petrolia. You’ll pass through Humboldt Redwoods State Park, near Avenue of the Giants, and eventually rejoin Highway 101. 

Budget at least half a day for this scenic drive through the Lost Coast. Want to know more about the Lost Coast? I have an entire guide on taking a Lost Coast Road Trip!

Read More: The Best Lost Coast Road Trip Route

Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree near Redwood National Park

25. Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree

If you’re looking for the opportunity to get the photo op of driving through a redwood tree, you won’t find that in Redwood National and State Park as it goes against park practices. But you can find that photo op outside of the park at private businesses!

One of the best drive-thru trees in the area is the Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree. Here you can drive your own vehicle through a carved out bottom of an ancient redwood tree. Just be prepared for long lines at this (quintessential) tourist trap!

You can read more about the Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree here.

FAQs About the Things to Do at Redwood National Park

How many days do you need in Redwood National Park?

To see the park’s highlights, you’ll need around 2 to 3 days. To see all that Redwood National Park has to offer, I recommend spending a week and visiting nearby destinations like the Pacific Coast Highway and other nearby national parks.

Which Redwood State Park is the best?

All 3 of the Redwood State Parks are amazing, but the best one is Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. This park has plenty of must-see hikes and scenic drives amongst the old-growth redwood forests.

What is there to do in Redwood National Park in one day?

The best things to do in Redwood National Park in one day include hiking Fern Canyon, driving Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway, and visiting Tall Trees Grove or Lady Bird Johnson Grove.

What is the best time of year to go to Redwood National Park?

Temperatures are warm most of the year thanks to the coastal climate. For dry, sunny weather visit during the summer from June to September. To avoid crowds, consider visiting in May or October instead.

Final Thoughts on the Best Things to Do at Redwood National Park

There’s plenty of amazing things to do in Redwood National Park. If you only have a short amount of time to visit, don’t miss:

  • Tall Trees Grove
  • Fern Canyon
  • Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway
  • Kuchel Visitor Center
  • Seeing the Roosevelt Elk

Planning a trip to Redwood National Park? Don’t miss your copy of this free, printable guide to all of Redwood’s best campsites – the only way to stay inside the park!

Looking for more guides to plan your trip to Redwood National Park? Check out these posts!

Is visiting every national park on your bucket list? Don’t miss my comprehensive guide on all 63 parks: Ultimate List of National Parks by State (+ What to Do in Each One)

Want to share your thoughts, tips, and advice with me and other readers? Have questions about your trip? Head down to the comments section below!

This post may include some affiliate links, where I earn a small commission if you choose to make a purchase, all at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products or brands that I use. Any income helps me continue sharing national park tips and itineraries for free.

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