Visiting Redwoods National Park in your RV

Redwoods National and State Parks is one of the most unique national parks in the US. Within this national park, you can find four individual state parks. These are all intertwined to create a very unique and gorgeous landscape. Located on the Northernmost coast in California, park visitors can experience lakes, rivers, forests, ocean, prairies, and of course the stunning redwoods, all within one large area. These varied landscapes offer a diverse playground of activities to enjoy. This includes hiking, wildlife viewing, biking, scenic driving, water activities, and so much more. What’s even better is that the area is totally RV-friendly, making it the perfect California location for your summer family vacation. Continue on for a full list of some of the best activities in the area to enjoy.

Credit: NPS Flickr – S. Niehans

1. Scenic Driving

One of the most popular ways to experience this gorgeous park is by vehicle. Many excellent roadways (both paved and unpaved) can take you to see all sorts of hidden wonders throughout the park. These include driving along the coast, through prairies, past dense redwood forests, and more. Keep in mind that these are all recommended for passenger vehicles only, so you will have to drive with your tow or towed (toad) vehicle. See the chart below for more information on each scenic drive.

Credit: NPS Flickr- John Chao

2. Hiking

In such a beautiful area, it’s only natural that you would want to get out of your vehicle and enjoy nature up close. Here, you can find hikes and walks for hikers of all abilities. These range from easy five-minute walks to difficult, day-long hikes. Several trails are paved and ADA-accessible, while others are on rugged, unmaintained paths. Those with less time or who are looking for an easier trail should check out the Big Tree Wayside Walk (10-30 minutes) or the Simpson-Reed Trail (30-60 minutes, ADA-accessible). Other easy and excellent hikes include Stout Memorial Grove Trail (1-2 hours), Lady Bird Johnson Grove Trail (45-60 minutes), Trillium Falls Trail (30-90 minutes), and Prairie Creek Foothill Trail Loop (1-2 hours).

Credit: NPS Flickr- John Chao

More intermediate or difficult trails are best for those with some hiking experience and more time to spend in the park. These include the James Irvine Trail to Fern Canyon Loop (4-8 hours), the Tall Trees Grove Trail (3-6 hours), and the Hidden Beach Trail (2-3 hours). No matter which hike you choose, be sure to wear comfortable shoes and clothing and pack plenty of snacks and water!

Credit: NPS Flickr- John Chao

3. Wildlife Viewing

Because of the variety of landscapes and rugged terrain of the park, there are many opportunities for wildlife viewing. The species you may see will depend on what area of the park you are visiting. On some of the beaches, you can find tide pools, which are teeming with a variety of wildlife, including seastars, mussels, anemones, three types of crabs, two types of snails, and many other types of wildlife. In and near the ocean, you can also find a variety of marine mammals, including seals, sea lions, whales, dolphins, porpoises, and more. Coastal overlooks offer the best opportunities for viewing these incredible beings.

Inland, Redwoods is also home to a large variety of land mammals and bird species. These include elk, deer, bobcats, mountain lions, black bears, coyotes, weasels, beavers, porcupines, otters, and many more. The park’s grasslands and woodlands are the best place for viewing these animals. If you wish to see the park’s wildlife, it is recommended to set out at dawn or dusk for the greatest chances.

Credit: NPS Flickr- John Chao

4. Water Activities

Water activities are also immensely popular in Redwoods National Park. Although most visitors come to see the redwoods, many fall in love with the wild and scenic Smith River. This gorgeous river begins in the Klamath Mountains and continues nearly 300 miles before reaching the Pacific Ocean. The views and solitude make it incredibly popular for kayaking. Experienced kayakers can bring their own kayaks and put in and take out at designated areas. Those who would prefer a guide can schedule a ranger-led kayak tour (equipment included). It is recommended to schedule this tour a few weeks in advance for best chances of availability.

Credit: NPS Flickr- John Chao

5. Camping Options

Within the park boundaries, there are four developed campgrounds that are available to RVs. Jedediah Smith Campground is located in an old-growth redwood forest, beside the Smith River. This campground is open year round and has eighty-six sites available for motorhomes of twenty-five feet or less or trailers under twenty-one feet. Mill Creek Campground is located beside the coast in a new growth forest. Here, there are 145 sites available from mid-May to late September for motorhomes under twenty-eight feet and trailers under twenty-four feet.

Elk Prairie Campground is located near the beautiful Elk Prairie, beside dense forests and nearby the coast. There are seventy-five sites available year-round for motorhomes under twenty-seven feet and trailers under twenty-four feet. Gold Bluffs Beach Campground is the final Redwoods National Park campground, and it is located along a gorgeous area of Pacific coastline. Here, there are twenty-six sites available year round for motorhomes under twenty-four feet (no trailers permitted). 

Those with RVs that are too long for the park’s campgrounds can consider one of several private RV parks or other camping options located outside park boundaries, such as 44 Camp, Elk Country RV Resort and Campground, and Azalea Glen RV Park Campground. These have a variety of hookup options and other amenities available. Be sure to make your reservations early on, especially for the spring and summer months.

Redwoods National and State Parks is a stunning and diverse place that makes for an excellent RV trip. This area has no shortage of excellent activities to enjoy, so be sure to consider it for your next vacation.

Have you visited Redwoods National Park? How was your experience? Tell us all about it in the comments below!

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