Backpackers Guide to Redwood National Park – California

Red Wood National Park

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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. The combined RNSP contains 133,000 acres (540 km2) of Redwoods and other flora and fauna species. Redwood National Park was by far one the most impressive places I have visited in the USA.

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, 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.

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!

Things to do in Redwood National Park - Fern Canyon

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 trail exposes you to the 3 predominant ecosystems in the National Park and is one I highly recommend.

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 and is pretty overrated. However still a cool experience.


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 at Redwood National Park for at least 4-5 days.

Getting around Redwood National Park

A car is essential as the main attractions are spread out.

Where to stay in Redwood National Park 

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

Camping Options

There are some awesome campsites 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.

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