California

Guide to Redwood National and State Parks

Take a hike as one of the things to do with kids in the Redwoods.
Explore Redwood National and State Parks and meet the tallest trees on the planet. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Everyone loves a record, even trees. To see the largest trees in the world, head to a quiet corner of the Northern California coast to stare in awe at the protected Coastal Redwoods. While there, you’ll be in one of the iconic landscapes of North America. Immortalized in the Star Wars franchise, the Redwood National and State Parks represented Endor’s Forest Moon, the land of the Ewoks. Read on for what to do in Redwood National Park with kids. 

At a Glance 

Year Established: 1968
Located: Northern California
Size: over 139,000 acres
Top Features: Old Growth Redwoods 

Top Things to do in the Redwood National and State Parks

  • Stop by a Visitor Center 
  • See the Redwood Trees
  • Take a scenic drive
  • Bring Your Bike
  • See the Roosevelt Elk
  • Gaze into a Tide Pool 
  • Earn a Junior Ranger Badge
  • Picnic

Read More

Guide to Lassen Volcanic National Park
35+ Things to do in Summer at Lake Tahoe
Oregon Caves National Monument Guide 
Hike a trail as one of the things to do in the Redwoods with kids.
The redwood groves offer family-friendly hikes where Ewoks once played. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

More about the Redwoods

California boasts two of the three types of redwoods. Though only one type lives in the Redwood National and State Parks. With bark that’s 12 inches thick, Coast Redwoods have no known diseases or suffer from insect damage and thrive along the upper California Coast in the Redwood National and State Parks

  • The Coast Redwoods are the tallest trees with heights over 370 feet grown from a seed the size of a tomato seed.  
  • The Giant Sequoias are located on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range in Central California’s Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. They are bulkier with thicker trunks yet not as tall. 
  • The Dawn Redwoods were thought to be extinct, yet discovered in 1944 in Central China.

Visitor Centers in the Redwoods

Find five visitor centers across the park. Grab maps or junior ranger booklets, also find restrooms along with interpretive areas at each. Learn about seasonal park ranger programming too. 

Hiouchi Visitor Center 

Located along U.S. 199 in Hiouchi, California. Open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from spring to fall and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the winter. 

Jedediah Smith Campground Visitor Center 

Located along U.S. 199 in Hiouchi, California. Open seasonal from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from the end of May until the end of September. 

Crescent City Information Center

Located at 1111 Second Street in Crescent City. Open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from spring to fall and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the winter.

Prairie Creek Visitor Center

Located just at U.S.101 at Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway. Open in the summer from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. otherwise. 

Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center 

Located along U.S. 101, just south of Orick, California. Open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from spring to fall and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the winter.

What to do in Redwood National and State Parks

Redwood National and State Parks offers lots of recreation options. Though many of the roads aren’t suitable for large RVs and trailers. 

Best Scenic Drives 

If limited on time, scenic drives are the best way to see the redwood forests.

Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway—A 10-mile (16 m) paved road that parallels U.S. Route 101 offers for some of the best tree viewing. 

Enderts Beach Road—A 2-mile (3.2 km) road offers amazing views of the coastline near Crescent Beach. 

Howland Hill Road—A 10-mile (16 km) road along Mill Creek to Stout Grove.

Coastal Drive—A 8-mile (3.2 km) road to the coast with a WWII Radar Station on Highbluff Overlook. 

Read More

National Park Guide to Washington
National Park Guide to Oregon
National Parks in Southern California
Hike the Lady Bird Johnson Grove as one of the things to do in the Redwoods with kids.
Explore the Lady Bird Johnson Grove, the former first lady, during your trip. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Best Hikes in the Redwoods

Hiking is always tops on my list. During our visit, we hiked several short hikes.

Lady Bird Johnson Grove Trail—A 1.5-mile (2 km) loop off Bald Hills Road. The path meandering through a fern-covered grove where the dedication of Redwood National Park took place.

Ah-Pah Interpretive Trail—A .3-mile (.48 km) walk off Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway. This trail takes visitors through the rehabilitation process after logging. 

Big Tree Wayside—A 200-yard (180 m) walk to a grove of big trees off Newton B. Drury Scenic

SImpson-Reed Trail—A .8-mile trail (1.3 km) in the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park 

Prairie Creek Foothill Trail Loop—A 2.5-mile (4 km) trail near the Prairie Creek Visitor Center.

Trillium Falls—A .5-mile (.8 km) one way to the falls, in the Elk Meadow 

Biking in the Redwoods 

Redwood National Park is one of the few parks that offers back-country cycling on rehabilitated logging roads. Check in at the visitor center for a brochure and current conditions. 

Davidson Road—A 3-mile (4.8-mile) level section at Elk Meadow Day Use Area that’s labeled easy.

Streelow Creek—A 3-mile (4.8-mile) level section that’s labeled easy.

Wildlife Viewing in the Redwoods

  • Roosevelt Elk HerdFor the best viewing, look at dawn and dusk in the spring and fall. Especially during the fall’s elk rut, when the males battle each other in the annual mating ritual in the Orick area.
  • Bats—Find 13 species of bats in the parks.
  • Black Bear
  • Mountain lion
  • Bobcat
  • Coyote
  • Mink
  • Beaver
  • Harbor seal
  • Sea lion
  • Gray whale
  • Humpback whale
Be Bear Aware

Lassen Volcanic National Park is home to about 30 bears. The National Park Service recommends the following guidelines to reducing encounters.

•Make noise when hiking, kids are good at this.

•Be aware of the possibility of bears at streams.

•Store food when not eating or preparing in the bear-proof storage lockers.

•Keep 100 years between you and bears.

•Put all trash in a bear resistant trash container.

Tide Pools in Redwoods 

Tide pools offer the opportunity to explore a tiny marine world. 

Enderts Beach—A .5-mile (2 km) hike from the Crescent Beach Overlook. 

Damnation Creek—A .5-mile (2 km) hike from the Damnation Creek Trailhead

False Klamath Cove—Near the Wilson Creek bridge. 

Whale watching from the shore is best in November and March during the gray whale migration from the coastal overlooks. 

Kids at the Redwood National and State Parks

The Junior Ranger Program is the go-to program for families to learn more about Redwood National Park. It’s free and takes about two hours to complete. My kids love the badges that the park rangers present them after completing their booklets. 

The Redwood Junior Ranger booklet is the same for ages four and up. Kids complete the number of activities in the booklet based on their age. A ranger program is not required to earn this junior ranger badge though visiting a tide pool or taking a hike in the redwoods is encouraged.

The California State Parks offers a Junior Ranger program for kids visiting the Jedediah Smith Visitor Center or the Prairie Creek Visitor Center.

Read More 

Junior Ranger Badges you can earn at home
Best National Park Books for Kids
Best National Parks for Fall Color

Where to Eat in the Redwoods

Redwood National and State Parks doesn’t offer a lodge with dining facilities. Though small communities outside the parks offers dining. Find several picnic areas throughout the park.

    • Dolason Prairie
    • Stone Lagoon
    • Redwood Creek 
    • Redwood Creek Overlook
    • Redwood Creek Trailhead
    • Lady Bird Johnson Grove
    • Elk Meadow 
    • Lost Man Creek
    • Elk Prairie
    • Kuchel Visitor Center
    • Prairie Creek Visitor Center
    • Gold Bluffs Beach
    • High Bluff Overlook
    • Klamath River Overlook
    • Lagoon Creek Overlook
    • Wilson Creek
    • Mill Creek 
    • Crescent Beach
    • Crescent Beach Overlook
    • Hiouchi Visitor Center
    • Jedediah Smith Visitor Center

Lodging in the Redwood National and State Parks

Stay in a Cabin as one of the things to do in the Redwoods with kids.
Redwood National and State Parks offers limited lodging so we stayed at the Elk Meadows Cabins. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

During my visit to Redwood National and State Parks, I reserved a cabin at the Elk Meadow Cabins ($$-$$$). Located three miles north of Orick, California, Elk Meadow Cabins offers six three-bedroom, two-bath cabins that I would describe as a small house instead of a cabin. They line a short street right off U.S. Route 101 in an area that has a resident herd of Roosevelt Elk.

Outfitted with all the necessities a family needs, I found this house a charming place to stay for a couple of days. This area of California is remote and the Elk Meadow Cabins offers an excellent location to base your Redwood National and State Parks excursions.

Stay in a cabin as one of the things to do in Redwoods with kids
Stay in a cozy cabin in the Redwood State and National Park on the northern California Coast. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

With homespun charm, my cabin featured two bedrooms with a queen bed each and one bedroom perfect for kids with a pair of twin beds. One bathroom included a tub for the kids who bath and the other bathroom had a shower and stackable washer and dryer.

The kitchen included all the necessary cooking equipment for a family, including a dishwasher. During our stay, I opted to grill outside since it’s a kid-pleaser and easy-to-clean up for Mom. I found a grill on the back deck along with a table for dining al fresco. Grab groceries before heading out to Redwood National Park.

Stay in a cabin as one of the things to do in Redwoods with kids.
My cabin offered three cozy bedrooms decorated with charming quilts. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Our cabin featured cable television and Wi-Fi but my kids played outside until dark. Bring the bikes or kayaks, the cabins feature a small garage for storing your toys. Elk Meadow Cabins offers a community fire pit and Jacuzzi.

Elk Meadow Cabins offer guided tours through the Redwood National and State Parks. With half-day or full-day tours that can include prepared lunches for an additional charge, families can choose Redwood destinations like tide pools, Redwood Creek or a tall trees tour. 

Grill up some dinner as one of the things to do in the Redwoods with kids.
Stop by the grocery store and grill up dinner on the outside grill or use the fully-stocked kitchen. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Camping in Redwood National and State Parks

Find four campgrounds within the parks. 

Jedediah Smith Campground in Jedediah Smith State Park
  • Year-round 
  • Reservations accepted from May 1 until October 1
  • 86 sites without hook-ups, 25-foot RV limit
  • Potable water and flush toilets
  • Hot showers 
  • Dump station 
Mill Creek Campground in Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park
  • Seasonal from early May until end of September
  • First-come, first-serve 
  • 145 sites without hook-ups, 28-foot RV limit
  • Potable water and flush toilets
  • Hot showers 
  • Dump station
Elk Prairie Campground in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park 
  • Year-round
  • Reservations recommended
  • 75 sites without hook-ups, 27-foot RV limit
  • Potable water and flush toilets
  • Hot showers 
  • Dump station
Gold Bluff Beach Campground in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
  • Year-round
  • Reservations recommended
  • 26 sites without hook-ups, 24-foot RV limit. No trailers
  • Solar showers 

Note: The campgrounds are located in the California State Parks and reserved through its system.

Check out Trinidad on the southern edge of the Redwoods National and State Parks for RV rental California.

Where’s Redwood National and State Parks

Redwood National and State Parks are located along U.S. Route 101 in Northern California. From the south, Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center is 2 miles west from Orick, California, or 312 miles north from San Francisco. On the north side of the park, the Jedediah Smith Visitor Center in Crescent City, California, is 322 miles south of Portland, Oregon.  

Details for Redwood National and State Parks

Redwood National and State Parks is open 365-days a year and 24-hours a day. The Redwood National Park is free to enter though Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park, Del Norte Coast Redwood State Park and Prairie Creek Redwood State Park collect day-use fees at their respective campgrounds. 

U.S. Route 101 runs north and south though the Redwood National and State Parks. Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway offers a scenic drive and several unpaved roads offer beach access though trailers are prohibited.

Read More

National Park Pass Guide 
Top National Park Lodges 
Top National Park Books 
Nonprofits that support the U.S. National Parks
Disclosure:

Consideration for brands mentioned. This post contains affiliate ads.

Know BeforeYou Go:

  • When exploring the beach, never turn your back to the ocean. Sneaker waves can occur at any time.
  • Rip currents are strong currents that can occur at anytime. Put the kids in life jackets.
  • If exploring the tide pools, remember rising tides can cut off access.
  • If you feel a strong earthquake, move to higher ground in case of Tsunami.
  • Ticks carrying Lyme disease have been found in the Redwood National and State Parks.
  • Know how to identify Poison Oak; it can be found along the trails.
  • Best places to restock: stop at Crescent City, California if driving down from the north and McKinleyville, California, if arriving from the south.
  • Give Roosevelt Elk space, they are unpredictable animals that weigh 1,000 pounds.
Head to the mysterious land where Ewoks once played in Northern California at Redwood National and State Parks. See the towering trees, spot a Roosevelt Elk or hop on a bike to explore. Find lots of trails, cabins in the park along with a beach in a favorite national park dedicated to some of largest trees in the world. Where to see Redwoods in California | What to do in the Redwood National Park | Where to Stay in the Redwood National Park #NationalParks #California
credit: Catherine Parker

Head to the mysterious land where Ewoks once played in Northern California at Redwood National and State Parks. See the towering trees, spot a Roosevelt Elk or hop on a bike to explore. Find lots of trails, cabins in the park along with a beach in a favorite national park dedicated to some of largest trees in the world. Where to see Redwoods in California | What to do in the Redwood National Park | Where to Stay in the Redwood National Park #NationalParks #California

Comments are closed.