National Parks

Complete Redwood National Park Guide: Read Before You Go

Apr 13, 2022

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Redwood National Park is a magical place nestled in the hard-to-reach Northwestern corner of California—making it an almost untouched piece of Mother Nature’s beauty. Sounds fabulous, right? It is! And if you’re already planning a Redwood National Park itinerary, this Redwood National Park guide will be the next best accessory that won’t go out of style during your trip planning.

In this write-up, I cover all the pesky details you’ll want to know before you go so your trip is smooth as butter. 

While its location helps preserve its beauty, making the park under-visited and underrated, Redwoods NP is more difficult to reach, making the planning process much more important! So I want to make sure we don’t skip anything! That being said, we have a lot to cover in this blog. 

Let’s begin!

Disclaimer: This blog contains affiliate links!

First, What is RNSP?

RNSP stands for Redwood National and State Parks. Unlike some other US national parks, Redwoods is a conglomerate of a national park and three state parks:

  • Jedediah Smith State Park
  • Del Norte Coast State Park
  • Prairie Creek State Park

Together these make up what is known as RNSP (Redwood National and State Parks). AND together, the parks protect about 45% of the remaining coast redwood. That’s about 139,000 acres. 

Truthfully, while 139,000 acres is a ton of ground, Redwood National Park itself is sparse. That’s just my honest opinion. I wasn’t lying when I said you should visit or that it’s magical. It’s a gorgeous area!

However, it doesn’t compare to parks like Yosemite, which offer many hikes, viewpoints, etc. Also, Redwood National Park is a forest (like duh). So after a hike and a drive through some areas, you might find yourself going, “K, I get it.”

I found myself enjoying much more of the State Parks. They’re a bit more diverse in scenery, in my opinion.

Planning Your Redwood National Park Trip

Before we get into a deep dive, here is a very quick rundown of some critical planning details:

  • 🌲Where is the Park: Northwestern California, in Crescent City
  • 🌞Best Time to Visit: Spring and Summer
  • How Long to Go: 2 days is plenty!
  • ✈️Closest Airport: Rogue Valley Airport in Medford, Oregon. Use KAYAK to find tickets!
  • 🚐Campervan Rental: Click here to rent a campervan!
  • 🐕‍🦺Are Dogs Allowed?: No, but you can bring your pets to Walker Road in Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park
  • 🎟Park Fees: Free with the exception of an $8 fee at Jedediah Smith State Park

Now let’s dive into the rest of this Redwood National Park guide!

Redwood National Park Guide Map

Below is a map I created for you! You can click here to reference a live version of the map.

Best Time to Visit Redwood National Park

The best time to visit Redwood National Park is early spring and summer. This will offer the best weather and trail access. However, you can expect the Redwood National Park and State Parks area to be damp year round. Temperatures range from the mid-40s (F) to mid-60s (F). But let’s review the different seasons:

  • Winter—Temperatures range on the cooler side of the spectrum, and visitors should expect a good amount of rain. 
  • Spring—Early spring (February to early March) still has cooler temperatures, but you can get great light rays. I’ll show you some pictures, don’t worry, but expect a good chance of rain, too. April can get the most rain. 
  • Summer—Summer is a great time to visit and probably the safest choice for most folks! While you should still prepare for any chance of rain, temperatures can get in the mid-70s (F). The park can also be quite foggy in the summer. However, I find that this doesn’t matter TOO much considering you’ll be deep in a forest.
  • Fall—Fall follows suit with what we’ve already discussed above. If you want to see fall foliage, I would probably go elsewhere (New England fall road trip instead? LOL.)

Where to Stay

During your trip into RNSP, you’ll be primarily along the coast and in the forest. The two locations I recommend looking at for accomodations are Crescent City, CA and Trinidad, CA. These two towns will put you in the best proximity to everything you’ll want to explore. HOWEVER, it’s worth noting that *decent* hotel options are a bit sparse. This applies to the entire area, not just Trinidad and Crescent City.

If this were my trip, I would plan on booking a decent vacation rental—the options in that field are A-PLENTY. I’ve already done some of the research for you. Take a look at these Vrbo properties!

Crescent City

  • Riverfront House ($$$)—A 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom house right on the Smith River—that water is BLUE. There is a hot tub, a BBQ, snorkeling gear, kayaks, BIKES. I mean, you name it, this property has it. This is the perfect place for a group or if you’re in the mood to treat yo self. It’s about 0.6mi away from Jedediah Smith State Park.
  • Beachfront Home in Crescent City ($$$)—This beachfront property has views of the ocean in every direction. I’d also like to note that they have an entire tea bar you can enjoy. Like can you imagine watching the sunrise while sipping a fresh Earl Grey? I can. About 18min from Jedediah Smith. 
  • Pet-Friendly Riverfront Home ($$)—This is a cute riverfront home that you can take Fido to! I love that it has such cute amenities like a fire pit. S’mores, anyone? About 2mi from Jedediah Smith.
  • Bungalow in the Heart of the Redwoods ($$)—This place is giving me cute cabin vibes all the way. It has a large outdoor area and lets visitors feel fully immersed in the beauty of the Redwoods. About 1mi from Jedediah Smith!
  • Cottage in the Redwoods ($)—Cute home that gives you cabin vibes without the price tag that some of the other options have! Furnished with antiques and nestled right in the middle of the forest. About 3mi from Jedediah Smith.

Trinidad, CA

  • Trinidad Bay Bed and Breakfast Hotel($$$)—A charming property about 5 minutes from the beach. Guests have the option of enjoying a 3-course breakfast, which to me sounds like the perfect start to your day!
  • Charming Beach House ($$$)—Oh my. Someone, please take me here! This charming beach house is located right on the beach and Trinidad bay. It’s an adorable property that has everything you need plus a fantastic view to wake up to!
  • Pet-Friendly Home Near Beach ($$)—This cute home is both pet-friendly and within walking distance from the beach! The beach allows dogs, FYI. It’s in a great location to do additional excursions to Redwood National Park and State Parks if you want to!
  • Emerald Forest Cabins($$)—Adorable cabins set in a beautiful section of the coastal Redwoods. When you stay here, you’ll be a short drive from the beach and state parks, making it the ideal adventure hub. Plus, the cabins are pet-friendly!

Getting There

You WILL need a car. So make sure that you rent a car ahead of time. Let’s talk about flying near the park because I assume that’s what most of you might be doing. RNSP is difficult to get to because it is far from most major California airports. 

The parks go in a straight line along the coast. So if we went North to South, the park order would be:

 Jedediah Smith State Park > Del Norte State Park > Prairie Creek State Park

Knowing this will give you a sense of what a possible trip could look like. Here are the closest airports to consider:

  • Rogue Valley International Medford Airport in Medford, OR
    • This will be the closest airport to the parking area, coming in at a 2 hour drive to Jedediah Smith State Park.
    • If you fly in from here, you’ll be visiting the Redwood National Park and State Parks by driving south, starting in Jedidiah and ending with Prairie Creek State Park.
  • Sacramento International Airport
    • About a 6.5hr drive to Crescent City and a 6hr drive to the Prairie Creek area.
    • If you fly in from here, you’ll be visiting the Redwood National Park and State Parks by driving north, starting in Prairie Creek State Park and ending in Jedidiah.
  • San Francisco International Airport
    • About a 7hr drive to Crescent City and a 6hr drive to the Prairie Creek Area.
    • If you fly in from here, you’ll be visiting the Redwood National Park and State Parks by driving north, starting in Prairie Creek State Park and ending in Jedidiah.

Driving to the Park

Once you land, I recommend reading what the National Park Service says about driving to the park since they mention that GPS devices can take visitors to the wrong area. 

Here is a quick blurb taken directly from the NPS directions page:

“Redwood National and State Parks is generally oriented along the north-south U.S. 101 highway corridor between Crescent City and Orick, Calif (~50 miles). Numerous other roads and highways (including scenic drives) provide access to areas throughout the parks. Please note that there are no formal entrance stations along the access routes listed below-it is entirely possible to drive completely through the parks without realizing you have been in or close to some of the world’s most magnificent forests and tallest trees!”

Things to Do

Here is a quick list of notable attractions:

  • Hike Karl Knapp Trail—2.5 mile trail in Prairie Creek that takes you deep into the Redwoods, through tree tunnels, and more!
  • Drive Howland Hill Road—Scenic driving route in Jedediah Smith State Park features trails and other stops.
  • Hike Boy Scout Tree Trail—A popular Redwood trail that starts from Howland Hill Road.
  • Fern Canyon—A lush canyon covered head-to-toe in large ferns and looks like it belongs in Lord of the Rings.
  • Hike Lady Bird Johnson Grove Trail—1.5 mile loop into a vibrant Redwood forest.

In my Redwood National Park itinerary we go over how to put all of these together!

What to Pack

What would a Redwood National Park guide be without a packing list? Packing for RNSP doesn’t have to be tricky! Your main concern will need to be preparing for rain (even if that means packing a simple rain jacket). Here are some suggestions on what to bring with you:




For Hiking

Your Next Steps for Your Redwoods Trip

While this Redwood National Park guide is packed with info, that’s only half the battle! Your next steps for planning your best Redwoods trip ever is to read my 2 day Redwood National Park itinerary blog!

See you there ;)!

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I'm a burrito loving explorer who got fired from corporate America and turned that into my dream career as a photographer and blogger. Now I'm here to help you explore life's magic. Thanks for stopping by!