Backpackers Guide to Redwood National Park – California

Red Wood National Park

The Redwood National and State Parks (RNSP) are located in the United States, along the coast of northern California. They are made up of Redwood National Park, Californias Del Norte Coast, Jedediah Smith, and Prairie Creek Redwood State Parks.

Redwood National Park was by far one the most impressive places I have visited in the US and is a destination that should be added to all nature lovers US bucket list.

Things to do in Redwood National Park

Things to do in Redwood National Park

The best things to do in Redwood National Park are free, such as hiking, exploring National Parks, waterfalls, beaches and rivers.  Let me start with my favourite thing to do in Redwood National Park, the hiking trails.

Short hikes in Redwood National Park

Circle Trail

Starting at Big Tree – ¾ of a mile north of Elk Prairie campsite. This short walk (1/2 mile) takes you through the old growth Red Woods, some of the biggest trees in the park. You can see the size of the trees in the image of me below. Unbelievable.

Things to do in Redwood National Park

Lady Bird Johnston Grove Trail

Starting 1 mile North of Orick. This short interpretative hike (1.5 mile) takes you through old growth trees to the site where Lady Bird Johnston dedicated Red Wood National Park in 1968. This is perfect for families or anyone looking for a simple walk in the woods.

Fern Canyon

Drive to Fern Canyon car park and take a short ¼ mile walk to Fern Canyon. From Fern Canyon, you can continue hiking along a number of trails of different lengths and difficulty. We followed the canyon and stream for kilometres, it was awesome!

Unlike most of the hikes in Redwood National and State Parks, this one is not about redwoods. Ferns line the almost completely vertical canyon walls that hug a shallow stream. The canyon starts out wide and gradually narrows and curves as you walk upstream. Portions of The Lost World: Jurassic Park were filmed in Fern Canyon.

Things to do in Redwood National Park - Fern Canyon

Tall Trees Grove Trail

Located at the south end of Redwood National Park, Tall Trees Grove Trail is a unique and relatively remote hike that showcases the old-growth redwoods and a forest of huge, spidery-shaped maples with moss-covered branches. The trail descends for 1.5 miles, losing 800 feet of elevation. This is one of the least popular hikes in the park.

Long Hikes in Redwood National Park

There is a 12-mile hike that leaves from Elk Prairie visitor centre and goes out to Fern Canyon, along the beach then back to the campsite. This long hiking trail exposes you to the 3 predominant ecosystems in the National Park and is one I highly recommend.

Coastal Trail

Portions of the California Coastal Trail (CCT) run through the Redwood Parks. Several access points allow for nice day hikes along the beaches and coastal terrain. Depending on the section you choose, day hikes range from about 3.5 to six miles in length, and most are considered difficult or strenuous, with steep sections as you descend to the beaches. The Crescent Beach section in Redwood National Park is an exception, with a flat, easy section, perfect for families.

Most people come to the parks to see the redwoods, but if you want to enjoy the ocean views and coastal bluffs, this is a beautiful area for hiking.

Boy Scout Tree Trail

The Boy Scout Tree Trail is a 5.5-mile round-trip hike through the old-growth redwood forest, located in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.

The trailhead is found along Howland Hill Road, starting from a small roadside pull-off area, which only accommodates about ten cars. Watch for other parked cars because the signposting is limited.


Scenic drives in Redwood National Park

Newton B Drury Scenic Parkway

This 10 miles long scenic drive runs adjacent to the 101 and is unmissable. This drive takes you to the Big Tree Trailhead, Elk Prairie visitor centre and campsite and a resident herd of Roosevelt Elk.

Southbound traffic takes exit 765 from the 101, Northbound traffic takes exit 753. 

Bald Hills Road

If you have time this scenic drive offers some amazing scenery and is located off the 101 north of Orick.

Avenue of the Giants

I highly recommend this scenic drive off highway 101 near Myer Flats. The great thing about this scenic drive is that it links back up to the 101 so you don’t have to go far off route. We found a creek to stop and swim at along this drive, it was stunning.

Drive through a tree in Redwood National Park

There are three drive-through trees in Redwood National Park:

One is in Klamath: North of the Newton B Drury Scenic Parkway.

The second is in Myers Flats: Near The Avenue of the Giants.

The Third is in Legget: Exit at Leggett and take an immediate left. This one costs $5.


Summer: June – August, however, it is warm from late May until late September.

Winter: December – February

I recommend travelling to Redwood National Park in Spring or Fall. The weather is still great and you will miss the crowds if you avoid summer.

Recommended trip length

I recommend staying in Redwood National Park for 3-5 days.  If you had the time and love nature, you could even stay for longer.

Getting around Redwood National Park

A car is essential as the main attractions are spread out. Search for rental cars here. 

Where to stay in Redwood National Park 

If you plan to stay in a hotel you can search for great deals below.

Camping Options in Redwood National Park

Backpackers Guide to Redwood National Park – California

There are some awesome campsites in Redwood National Park including:

Gold Bluffs Beach campsite: My personal favourite, situated on the California Coastline. No RVs or trailers allowed so it has a nice relaxed vibe. The cost is $35 per night. We had the whole beach to ourselves as we watched the sunset over the ocean while enjoying red wine.

Things to do in Redwood National Park - Gold Bluffs Beach

Elk Prairie Camp: In a great location central to a number of activities and the main visitor centre.  This campsite is amongst the first growth Red Woods and also costs $35 per night.

If you are on a low budget, check out Campsites just outside the park. There are several campsites for $15 per night and less. Reservations are highly recommended from 25th of May until the 2nd of September, however, I highly recommend visiting outside of the peak season.

Travel Insurance for Redwood National Park

I recommend getting travel insurance before your trip to Redwood National Park. I recommend World Nomads.  If you are still unsure if you should buy travel insurance or not, read this. 

Safety tips for visiting Redwood National Park

  • Bears call Redwood National Park home. If you are camping, don’t leave food scraps around, and when out hiking, carry bear spray.
  • If you see wildlife, keep a safe distance.
  • Notify someone of your plans.
  • Hike in pairs.
  • Shop my hiking essentials. 
  • Drive carefully as wildlife uses the roads too.

Other tips for visiting Redwood National Park

  • Visit in the offseason to avoid the crowds.
  • The weather can change quickly, so always be prepared.
  • Know your hiking ability and choose trails that suit your level of fitness.

Pin – Backpackers Guide to Redwood National Park

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