What if I told you there was a place in Northern Cali that belongs in a Lord of the Rings type movie. Somewhere tree-lovers near and far could only dream of. “Dani, What?” I couldn’t believe it either until I planned a 2 day Redwood National Park itinerary.
Redwood National Park is so lush, unique, underrated, AND under-visited—you need to visit ASAP.
With its proximity to the coast, the park is an easy addition to a larger California and PNW trip you might already be planning, so no excuses! Or, you can plan a trip around day hikes in the park and then afternoon runs to the beach—ummmm sign me up!
In this blog, we will go over my suggestions for the perfect itinerary, complete with some information about things to do in the area — you’ll be practically running to RNSP.
So let’s begin because you have a long run! We’ll start with a few must-know details! And when you’re done with this blog, check out this next: Redwood National Park guide.
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Planning Your 2 Day Redwood National Park Itinerary
Before diving into the itinerary, I want to quickly cover some planning details you should be aware of.
- 🌲Where is the Park: Redwood National Park and State Parks are located in the Humboldt and Del Norte Counties, in Northwestern California.
- 🌞When to Go: Spring through Summer
- ✈️Flying: Rogue Valley Airport in Medford, OR is the closest airport at 2 hours drive from the park. Use KAYAK (>>click here) to find tickets!
- 🚙Rental Car: KAYAK(>>click here) is my go-to for the best rental car prices!
- 🚐Rental Campervan: >>Click here to rent a campervan!
- 🏕Where to Stay: Beachfront Home, Bungalow in the Heart of the Redwoods, Riverfront House
- 🎟Fees: RNSP is free to visit with the exception of an $8-day use and vehicle fee to visit Jedediah Smith State Park.
The best way to describe Redwood National Park to you is to think of a conglomerate of State Parks PLUS a national park. It is unlike all America’s 63 national parks in that sense.
Together these makeup what is known as RNSP (Redwood National and State Parks). Here are the state parks:
- Jedediah Smith State Park
- Del Norte Coast State Park
- Prairie Creek State Park
Here is a quick list of things to do in Redwood National Park! From experience, these are the more noteworthy attractions.
- Drive Howland Hill Road—Scenic driving route in Jedediah Smith State Park
- Hike Boy Scout Tree Trail—Redwood trail that starts from Howland Hill Road.
- Hike Karl Knapp Trail—2.5 mile trail that consists of tree tunnels and large Redwoods.
- Take a scenic trip into Fern Canyon—A lush canyon covered head-to-toe in large ferns.
- Hike Lady Bird Johnson Grove Trail—1.5 mile loop into a vibrant Redwood forest.
Good to Know: We’ll be focusing on the Jedediah Smith and Prairie Creek areas, though, because those offer the most attractions!
Redwood National Park 2 Day Itinerary at a Glance + Map
- Day 1
- Land in Medford, OR or Crescent City
- Drive to Jedediah Smith State Park
- Day 2
- Drive to Prairie Creek State Park & explore
- Explore Fern Canyon
- Option to see Lady Bird Johnson Grove
- Explore outer Redwoods
Use the map below during your adventure!
Best 2 Day Redwood National Park Itinerary
For this itinerary, I will have you arrive Medford, Oregon where you’ll be a 2 hour drive to Jedediah Smith State Park. Sure, you can fly into Sacramento or San Francisco, but those are almost 3x the drive.
Flying into Medford, Oregon will allow you to a) make the most out of your trip and b) extend your trip to Brookings, OR (explained later) if you wish!
Aim to fly in early morning or the previous evening so you can make the most out of day one! This is all assuming you are located outside of the best California national parks.
Wanderer Tip: If flights are reasonable, you can fly directly into Crescent City, but being a small, regional airport, flight options can be limited.
Day 1 — Jedediah Smith State Park
- Day 1 in Sum: Land in Medford, OR, drive to Jedediah Smith State Park, explore
- Drive Time: ~2 hours
- Stay: Riverfront House, Beachfront Home in Crescent City, Pet-Friendly Riverfront Home, or Camp in Jedediah Smith
- Eat: SeaQuake Brewing is a popular choice, especially if you’re a beer lover. They also have some great vegan options available.
After flying into Medford, Oregon, you’ll pick up your rental car and begin your trek to the Redwood National Park and State Parks area.
I HIGHLY recommend you do a grocery run before descending to the park. You will have about a two-hour drive, and if you’re like me, snacks are of utmost importance.
There is a Walmart about 10min away from the Medford Airport. If that doesn’t do it for you, then three is a Costco available as well!
If you need an espresso fix, you can go to Forage Coffee! It’s about a 10 minute drive south from the airport—the general direction we need to go in.
You can certainly save the grocery shopping for Crescent City, especially if you plan on camping and don’t want food in your car for the journey south. You’ll now have about a 2 hour drive to the Jedediah Smith State Park area.
Wanderer Tip: Booking a Vrbo in Cresent City is your best bet for accommodations. Click here to book your stay!
Once you arrive, you have a couple of things you can do! Jedediah became one of my favorite places to see in Redwood National Park, and it sits a few miles inland from the coast of California.
I highly recommend driving along Howland Hill Road (if you’re up for more driving). This is where you’ll be able to get up close and personal with giant redwoods. On a foggy day, the park looks even more magical than it already is!
Did you know Star Wars was filmed here? I was casually waiting for Ewoks to appear. Howland Hill Road is a 10mi drive that is open all year round. It will take about 45 to 90min to complete.
Read Next: All US National Parks + Checklist
Looking for a hike to do in the area? Give the Boy Scout Tree Trail a go! The trail is about a 5.5mi round trip. The trail starts at Howland Hill Road and will immerse you fully in Redwoods.
This was one of my favorite hikes on my Redwood National Park itinerary when I last visited. Once you’re done for the day, you’ll be staying in the area.
Wanderer Tip: I’ve only ever done a section of of the trail, but the entire trail can take 3 to 5 hours to complete.
Day 2 — Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
- Day 2 in Sum: Explore Prairie Creek State Park, Fern Canyon, Lady Bird Johnson Grove
- Drive Time: ~2 hours
- Stay: Riverfront House, Beachfront Home in Crescent City, Pet-Friendly Riverfront Home
- Eat: Seafood lovers might enjoy Trinidad Bay Eatery ; Beachcomber Cafe has vegan options available!
Now it’s time to descend further South! Your next stop will be the Prairie Creek area. The drive here from Crescent City will take you about 40 minutes.
You can hike among giant redwoods on the 2.5mi Karl Knapp Trail. Along the way, you’ll walk through tree tunnels and find hideaways within the trees. It’s pretty neat!
Wanderer Tip: This is also referred to as Foothills Trail which can get confusing.
The trail starts near Elk Prairie Road.
What I love most about this trail because you can make whatever you want out of it.
Even though the trail is a loop, you don’t HAVE to complete the whole thing.
The Prairie Creek area is known for elk, so you have a good chance of seeing them on your adventure! My favorite parts of the trail were in the first half a mile!
Wanderer Tip: You should also plan for a Yosemite to Redwood National Park road trip!
Close to Prairie Creek (as in about 5 minutes away), you’ll find Fern Canyon. It’s beautiful! Imagine a giant black stone canyon with walls lined with more ferns than you have ever seen in your life. I suppose that’s why they call it Fern Canyon.
It’s quite the sight and should be on your list of things to do in Redwood National Park! You must pay an $8-day fee to enter!
You can also choose to explore Lady Bird Johnson Grove—about 12 minutes away. Lady Bird Johnson Grove Trail is one of the more popular things to do in Redwood National Park.
Like most areas, it is known for its lush forest views. While Lady Bird is pretty, I think you can get a similar vibe by visiting Prairie Creek! Now, if you really want to see more Redwoods and don’t mind driving an additional hour and 45 minutes South, I recommend you head to the “add-ons” section below!
Otherwise, after you explore Prairie Creek and Ladybird, you can drive back up to Crescent City and relax/ hang out by the river or…have a beach day woo!
Here are two beaches you can explore near Crescent City:
- Pebble Beach
- South Beach
Go to the next section for awesome Redwood itinerary add ons! Remember, exploring these next attractions will add more time to your drive back up.
Wanderer Tip: If you only have time for one “add on” make it the Oregon suggestion (in next sections).
AirBnBs Near Redwood National Park
During your itinerary, you will be driving from the Crescent City area to the Trinidad area. This stretch of coast has plenty to see and extra Redwood-filled places (like parks not technically in RNSP)!
I recommend making Crescent City your home base for the entire trip, so you can enjoy the coast and forest. Hotels are sparse. Vrbos are your best bet. But I mean, look at these cute options:
Beachfront Home in Crescent City >> Click to Book! ($$$$)—This beachfront property has views of the ocean in every direction. The massive sun room that was most likely built for royalty will put you in a state of “awe” every time you peer out at the coast. Great for family get togethers and groups. About 18 minutes from Jedediah Smith.
Bungalow in the Heart of the Redwoods >> Click to Book! ($$)—Book a getaway in this cute cabin bungalow! The property features a large outdoor area and lets visitors feel fully immersed in the beauty of the Redwoods. Being about 1 mile from Jedediah Smith and minutes from the beach, you can spend the day exploring then come back to the large fireplace to talk about the day’s adventures. Great for friends and couples!
Riverfront House >> Click to Book!($$$)—A 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms house right on the Smith River, which features some of the bluest water you hav ever seen. In addition to being in your own forest hideaway, the property features a hot tub, a BBQ, snorkeling gear, kayaks, and bikes—all for your enjoyment. This is the perfect place for a group. It’s about 0.6 miles away from Jedediah Smith State Park.
Redwood National Park Itinerary Add-Ons
Have more time to explore the Redwood National Park and State Parks area? Consider these destinations!
Spend a Sunny Morning at Sue-Meg State Park
If you’re a morning person and don’t mind a sunrise mission, then make your way to Sue-Meg State Park!
Sue-Meg State Park sits right on the coast and 30-minutes south of Prairie Creek. The views are breathtaking. There is nothing I love more than listening to the sound of crashing waves, and Sue-Meg is the best place to do that!
Wanderer Tip: Patrick’s Point became one of my favorite parts of my Redwood National Park itinerary because of the…drumroll, LIGHT RAYS.
Drive Avenue of the Giants
If you find yourself in the Humboldt area, make sure you take a drive along Avenue of the Giants. The Avenue is another road you can drive and stop to get better views of giant redwoods.
There is also a river flowing alongside the Avenue, and most people don’t know the river turns blue in the winter. It’s gorgeous and worth seeing at least once! Avenue of the Giants will be the furthest Ca add-on. From Prairie Creek, it’s about 1 hour and 45 minutes away.
This will put your drive to Crescent City at about 2 hours and 30 minutes. While the drive time can be bothersome, I would 10/10 would explore this road again!
Wanderer Tip: Alternatively, if you have one day in Redwood National Park (or limited time) I would skip these and spend stick to our OG itinerary, focusing on Jedediah and Prairie Creek!
Explore Oregon (On Your Drive Back Up to Medford)
Of course, since you’ll start your trip in Oregon, you can end it there too! The Medford, Oregon area is where you’ll find the famous Samuel H. Boardman State Park.
It’s home to ocean views and natural bridges.
Final Tips for Visiting RNSP
Now that I KNOW you’re on your way to visit Redwood National park, here are some tips for your visit!
Leave Animals Alone — This goes without saying, but please leave wildlife alone in Redwood National Park! Approaching or feeding wildlife can harm the animal in the long run and could end with you getting hurt.
Watch the Weather — Sure, you need to watch the weather for just about any trip, but this is especially true for Redwood National Park. The park tends to get lots of rain and thick fog. Some times of year are better to visit than others, which is why I recommend reading my Redwood National Park Guide for more!
Camp if Needed — If booking a rental is difficult, you can camp too! You’ll need to head to the Reserve California website to book your campground. There is a $7.99 reservation fee, and from my research, one night at a tent site will cost you about $35.00.
Final Thoughts on 2 Day Redwood National Park Itinerary
And that’s it! I hope you found this Redwood National Park itinerary write up to be helpful. The entire area is gorgeous. If you’re still feeling a bit unsure about the trip, I would aim to see a major highlight like Howland Hill Road or Karl Knapp Trail, then maybe opt for a beach day near Crescent!
That way, you’ll have a diverse trip that included some sand, sea, and forest. For more help planning your trip, read this next: Complete Redwood National Park Guide