Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Redwood National Park, CA

  • Published 2022/11/17

Redwood National Park in Humboldt County is one of the most jaw-dropping forests in the world, found along the Pacific coast of northern California.

On top of the national park, Redwood also covers three large state parks in California: Jedediah Smith, Del Norte Coast, and Prairie Creek State Parks.

Teeming with temperate rainforests that feature ancient trees, massive waterfalls, and lush groves, Redwood National Park is easily one of the best natural wonders in the United States.

Forests aren’t the only thing you can see here, as the park also encompasses several coastal areas in California where you can enjoy the Pacific Ocean.

Of course, exploring its forests and coastal trails will also lead you to see all sorts of wildlife.

Here’s a list of the best things to do in Redwood National Park, California, to get you started in this life-changing adventure.

See the Ancient Redwoods at Tall Trees Grove

Giant Redwoods at Tall Trees Grove

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If there’s one thing Redwood National Park is famous for, it’s the ancient redwood trees that have been untouched for eons.

One of the best places to see these giant trees is the park’s Tall Trees Grove, found on the western side along Tall Trees Access Road.

Redwood National Park is home to the Hyperion, the tallest tree in the world, measuring slightly over 380 feet, making it taller than Big Ben and the Statue of Liberty.

Hyperion at Tall Trees Grove

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While the Hyperion is now off-limits to visitors, you can still spot trees nearly as tall by hiking Tall Trees Grove.

Just note that you would need a reservation and permit in advance, as they limit the number of tourists daily.

Search for the Roosevelt Elk in Prairie Creek

A Roosevelt Elk at Prairie Creek

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Besides giant trees, wildlife is one of the other main attractions that make Redwood National Park special.

The park’s Prairie Creek is home to the Roosevelt Elk, which rivals the size of the largest deer on Earth, the moose.

Some of these elk weigh over 1,000 pounds, some of the biggest land animals you will ever see.

Roosevelt Elk at Prairie Creek

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While sighting them is not guaranteed, Prairie Creek offers the best chances to see herds of them as they have lived there for centuries.

Don’t forget to bring binoculars or a powerful camera, as seeing the Roosevelt Elk is truly a majestic experience.

Prairie Creek is easily accessible along Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway.

Roosevelt Elk fighting at Prairie Creek

Tom Reichner /

Trek the Lady Bird Johnson Grove

A trail at Lady Bird Johnson Grove

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Lady Bird Johnson Grove is one of the more popular hiking spots in Redwood National Park because of its proximity to Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center.

It is accessible via Bald Hills Road, which merges with Redwood Highway.

The grove is a great way to experience the temperate rainforests and diversity of the park, making it ideal if you only plan to see Redwood and not do a thorough exploration.

Welcome sign of Lady Bird Johnson Grove

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You’ll see all sorts of flora here, as the forests are bustling with plant life.

It’s also one of the more family-friendly hikes in the park, as its trail is roughly just 1.5 miles and takes only one hour.

With sprawling plant life, various terrains, and amazing views, trekking the Lady Bird Johnson Grove is a must-do in your itinerary.

Beautiful flora at Lady Bird Johnson Grove

Danita Delimont /

Visit the Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center

Redwood National Park can be a bit overwhelming, especially for foreign tourists.

This is why visiting Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center to begin your trip is highly recommended.

As the primary visitor center for the national park, the Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center employs park rangers who can give you invaluable information.

The rangers will inform you about the best hiking areas and the general conditions and safety on your visit.

Besides meeting the rangers, there are also free maps in the area and exhibits displaying the ecology of Redwood National Park.

The Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center is near the park’s prime trekking spots along the Redwood Highway’s coastal side in the Orick community.

Locate Trillium Falls

View of the gorgeous Trillium Falls

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Trillium Falls is another popular destination in the coastal forests of Redwood, with an accessible trail through Redwood Highway just a few miles from Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center.

Situated close to the Pacific Ocean, Trillium Falls is as pretty as its hike.

While not particularly large, the waterfall is a picturesque natural beauty with remarkable rock formations and overgrown moss.

Downstream of Trillium Falls

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It’s a neat little reward after the hike, but the trail leading there is just as pretty.

Full of redwoods and shrubbery, Trillium Falls can give you several Instagram-worthy pictures to post.

As a neat bonus, you can also spot the Roosevelt Elk here due to its proximity to Prairie Creek.

Pitch a Tent at Gold Bluffs Beach

A tent pitched at Gold Bluffs Beach

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There’s something romantic and serene about Gold Bluffs Beach, and the perfect way to enjoy it is by pitching a tent on its campgrounds.

Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Gold Bluffs Beach is an isolated campsite in the park that lets you enjoy the sheer nature of Redwood National Park.

You can catch some amazing sunrises on the beach and hear the tranquil waves of the Pacific.

The waters of Gold Bluffs Beach

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While its sandy shores are nowhere as pretty as the beaches in Florida, you can get some cool pictures here, given how isolated this vast coastline is.

You can access Gold Bluffs Beach at Davidson Road, which connects to the trailhead of Trillium Falls.

Roosevelt elk at Gold Bluffs Beach

Tom Reichner /

Explore Fern Canyon

Hikers at Fern Canyon

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Giant redwoods aren’t the only jaw-dropping plants in the park, as Fern Canyon’s quirky fern overgrowth is another site to behold.

The place got its name because of the sprawling ferns that grow on the canyon’s rocks, creating a wall of ferns.

With canyon walls as high as 50 feet, you can marvel at these unusual ferns through the canyon’s trail that features a creek, making aqua shoes quite a necessity here.

Stream along Fern Canyon's trail

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Experts believe the ferns date back 325 million years ago, making them older than the dinosaurs that once roamed the planet.

Speaking of dinosaurs, the film Lost World: Jurassic Park used Fern Canyon as one of its settings to depict the dinosaurs’ prehistoric habitats.

Iconic in its way, Fern Canyon is a can’t-miss spot, located just a hike away from Gold Bluffs Beach.

Stone steps trail at Fern Canyon

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Drive along Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway

Another way to appreciate the old-growth redwoods in the park is by driving along Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway.

This long, winding road goes through the heart of Redwood National Park, offering fantastic views as you drive across the street.

It’s truly an experience to do and is a no-brainer considering bringing a car into the park is necessary, given its lack of public transportation or shuttle service.

During this ten-mile drive, you can access several trails along the way.

Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway is accessible via a merging intersection with Redwood Highway, past the Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center.

Enjoy Amazing Views at Redwood Creek Overlook

Scenic view from Redwood Creek Overlook

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South of Lady Bird Johnson Grove along Bald Hills Road lies one of the best vantage points of the park, Redwood Creek Overlook.

The elevation lets you observe cloud formations up close, making it a haven for nature photographers.

Redwood Creek Overlook also offers some of the most fantastic sunset views in the park.

Welcome sign of Redwood Creek Overlook

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While hiking inside Redwood National Park lets you experience the trees up close, this area enables you to see how tall they are from afar.

Visit Redwood Creek Overlook if you either want amazing photographs and a breathtaking view of the rainforests in Redwood.

Spot Migrating Whales at Klamath River Overlook

View of the pacific from Klamath River Overlook

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While Redwood Creek Overlook gives you fantastic views of the forest, Klamath River Overlook offers elevated views of the Pacific.

During winter and spring, you can use this spot as a vantage point to observe whale migrations.

It’s also a beautiful spot to observe the Klamath River leading to the Pacific Ocean.

You’ll also see some information boards discussing marine life in the Klamath River and the Pacific.

The trail leading up to the overlook is well-maintained, though quite steep and narrow, so it’s best to make this an activity for experienced hikers only.

You can access the trail leading to Klamath River Overlook via Patrick J. Murphy Memorial Road in Klamath.

Have a Blast at Trees of Mystery

Entrance to the Trees of Mystery

Joshua Rainey Photography /

If you want to add some spice to your adventure, Trees of Mystery is one of the touristy parts of Redwood that doubles as an amusement park.

Dating back to 1946, Trees of Mystery is renowned for its suspended bridgeways that connect to the gigantic redwoods, letting you marvel at the trees from a height.

However, its most unique attraction is its gondola rides.

Sculptures at Trees of Mystery

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These enclosed, six-passenger seat gondolas are like cable cars that take you to their highest point.

If you want a more family-friendly and less taxing way to enjoy the giant redwoods, Trees of Mystery is a no-brainer in your itinerary.

It’s along US-101 Highway, north of Klamath.

Enjoy the Tide Pools of Enderts Beach

Enderts Beach is home to some of the best tide pools in the country, found just a few miles south of Crescent City.

With sprawling tide pools, rock formations, and marine life, Enderts Beach has a unique charm.

It gives off an isolated but adventurous vibe, as if you’re exploring a deserted island with traces of prehistoric life.

It’s highly recommended to visit at low tide to explore its tidepools and coastal rocks.

Chances are, you’ll see all sorts of marine life, like starfishes, anemones, and various fish.

Visit the Jedediah Smith Woods State Park

A trail at Jedediah Smith Woods State Park

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If you’re visiting from Oregon or Washington, accessing the park’s redwoods is easier through Jedediah Smith Woods State Park.

This state park is 50 miles up north from the Orick access point, so it’s much more convenient if you’re coming from the north.

It offers a similar experience to the trails mentioned on this list, with many groves and hiking spots to explore.

Signage of Jedediah Smith Woods State Park

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Jedediah Smith Woods State Park also features many creeks, rivers, and campsites.

Give this one a go if you’re closer to the area, accessible through US-199 Highway.

Take a Stroll at the Scenic Stout Grove

Coastal redwood trees at Stout Grove

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Stout Grove is another beautiful place to enjoy the old-growth redwoods in the northern part of Redwood National Park, part of Jedediah State Park.

It’s next to the Smith River, offering scenic views of the trail that leads up to several gigantic redwoods.

The unique thing about Stout Grove is its concise trail, making it a great addition to a packed itinerary.

Trail at Stout Grove

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It’s also extremely close to the town of Hiouchi, making it convenient if you want a quick look at the rainforests.

Stout Grove is a fantastic hike for all ages, so give it a go.

Ferns along Stout Grove

Danita Delimont /

Take a Break at Redwood Picnic Area

Picnic table at Redwood Picnic Area

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Redwood Picnic Area is probably one of the best places to take a breather before or after your trip to Redwood National Park.

A beach park that doubles as a pit stop for many travelers, this is more of a convenient stopover for your itinerary than a tourist hotspot.

Plenty of travelers stop here for toilet breaks, but it’s also scenic enough that it’s worth stopping by for some good ocean views.

There are also plenty of flowers in different varieties during springtime, making it an excellent place for photography.

If you want a truly relaxing time, you can easily have picnics here by the beach with friends and family, as they have plenty of tables and roofing.

It’s located just a few steps from Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center.

Final Thoughts

Redwood National Park is a natural wonder that should be on any person’s bucket list.

It’s home to some of the unique flora and fauna in the world, so visiting even one area will show you an unforgettable adventure.

As you map out your itinerary, this list of the best things to do in Redwood National Park, California, should guide you in your adventure!

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