Redwood National Park is home to breathtaking diversity, 40 miles of coastline, and the world’s tallest tree.
Although it’s up for debate, many say this park is home to the best redwood forest in California.
In this article we’re going to cover the top 10 things to do in Redwood National Park and can’t-miss destinations along the way.
- Visit The World’s Tallest Tree
- Hike In Lady Bird Johnson Grove
- Camp On Gold Bluffs Beach
- Embark On The Fern Canyon Hike
- Explore Stout Memorial Grove
- Search For Roosevelt Elk
- Take the Trillium Falls Trail
- Drive The Newton B. Drury Parkway
- Climb Battery Point Lighthouse
- Spend The Day On The James Irvine Trail
Visit Hyperion–The World’s Tallest Tree
On a steep hillside north of Eureka resides Hyperion–the world’s tallest tree. This famous tree was named after the Greek Titan Hyperion, who was known as “The High One.”
About 600 years old, this 380-foot tree dwarfs even the Statue of Liberty and is the park’s crown jewel.
The hike to get to Hyperion starts at the Tall Trees Trailhead Parking lot, which requires driving about 5 miles down an unpaved road. From there it’s a 1.8 mile trek to the tree.
About 80% of the trail is maintained, with the last section requiring travelers to wade across Redwood Creek, then scale over, and climb under a few sets of fallen logs.
No matter when you visit, you will get wet, but from July to October, the water levels are at their lowest.
During the winter months, the creek becomes impassable and will require you to take an alternate route along the Orick Horse Trail which will add an additional 8 miles to your trip.
Hyperion is part of the trifecta of famous trees that grow in California.
Hyperion is the world’s tallest. The General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park is the world’s largest by volume. And The Methuselah Tree, located in the Inyo National Forest is the world’s oldest non-clonal tree; estimated to be over 4,800 years old.
Hike The Lady Bird Johnson Grove Loop
Lady Bird Johnson Grove is a special place in Redwood National Park because it’s located high in the mountains, 1200 feet above sea level.
The high elevation creates a peaceful environment that’s devoid of traffic noise and often blanketed in clouds. The fog and heavy moisture makes the environment especially luscious and magical.
The Lady Bird Johnson Grove Loop is only 1.5 miles long and relatively flat so it’s the perfect place for families with small children to explore.
You’ll find that many different types of fern and shrubbery flourish along the forest floor and wildflowers bloom in the area from May-June.
Camp On Gold Bluffs Beach
Tall trees aren’t the only thing Redwood National Park has to offer. If you feel like changing the scenery, a 6-mile drive up Davison Road will bring you right to Gold Bluffs Beach.
With the Pacific Ocean on one side and the Redwood Forest on the other, you’ll find 10-miles of sandy dunes that stretch alongside the beach which are perfect for camping.
Tent campers can choose to either make their home-base on the dunes, where you’re rewarded with various views of the ocean or nearby forest.
Travelers with larger rigs can stay in the established campgrounds which are just a short walk away and offer more amenities.
Once you’ve settled in, take some time to explore the nearby landmarks such as Fern Canyon or the old-growth Miner’s Ridge Trail.
Embark On The Fern Canyon Hike
Fern Canyon is another short hike which is suitable for adults and children alike. The hike is about 1.1-miles long and has minimal elevation gain.
If you feel an almost prehistoric vibe as you make your way through the jungle-like, fern-filled forest, you’re not alone.
Steven Spielberg shot several scenes for Jurassic Park 2: Lost Worlds here.
Thankfully, you won’t encounter raptors or a t-rex looking for dinner, but you will run into birds, small lizards, and even fish if you rest at the canyon’s crystal clear ponds.
The hike may be short, but the scenery is unforgettable. Steep, vertical walls line both sides of the trail and they are completely covered in five different types of fern and a variety of mosses.
During much of the year you’ll find a constant stream of water dripping down the canyon walls.
Although it’s an easy hike, make sure to put on some waterproof shoes. Many parts of the trail dip into ankle-deep water that you’ll need to cross to get to the best parts.
To add ten miles to the hike, tack it to the end of the James Irvine Trail which starts at the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park Visitor Center.
Explore Stout Memorial Grove
Spanning 44-acres, the Stout Memorial Grove is another top candidate when visiting Redwood National Park.
The trees here average 300 feet high, creating a natural roof and generating the cleanest air you can find. Many see Stout Memorial Grove as the core of Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.
The grove is located along the Smith River which is a popular tourist destination for picnicking, swimming, and paddling. A short, 0.5 mile walk makes the grove easily accessible from the river.
That said, it does take some effort to get to the trailhead by car. If you plan to drive, smaller cars can access the trailhead by driving down Howland Hill Road which is narrow, unpaved, and has many tight turns.
Larger vehicles and RVs can park at the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park and then travelers can hike upstream along the riverbank.
Search for Roosevelt Elk
Roosevelt Elk are the largest subspecies of North American elk by mass.
Hunted to the brink of extinction in the 19th century, President Theodore Roosevelt established the Mount Olympus National Monument in 1909 to protect the elks.
Today, you can spot Roosevelt Elk herds amidst California redwoods in many sections of the park.
A fun, daytime activity is to simply grab your camera and wander into the forest looking for these impressive mammals.
The elk herds are commonly found in the Crescent Beach area, Gold Bluffs Beach, Elk Meadow, and lower Redwood Creek.
Take the Trillium Falls Trail
While you’re off taking pictures of Roosevelt Elk, you might want to take the Trillium Falls Trail as well.
The roundtrip hike is about 2.5 miles long and begins right next to Elk Meadow. Trillium Falls is less than a mile from the start so it’s easily accessible to everyone.
What’s great about this trail is that it has a little bit of everything. Blooming wildflowers, wooden footbridges, and dense undergrowth make this place special.
Redwoods start bright green and turn darker as you progress down the path. You’ll get to the best part about two-thirds in where the trees grow extremely tall and voluminous.
The Trillium Falls Trail is a popular hike, so you’re likely to run into other travelers. It’s best to take off early if you want to avoid the rush.
Drive the Newton B. Drury Parkway
If you don’t feel like walking, a great alternative is to enjoy the scenery while driving and listening to some Jurassic Park Music.
Right next to Orick, in Prairie Creek State Park is the Newton B. Drury Parkway.
About 10-miles long, this scenic road provides a unique driving adventure that you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else in the world.
The road accommodates vehicles of any size and takes about 20 minutes to complete without stops.
That being said, there are many pullouts to take a break if a particular part piques your interest. There are many short, well-marked trails that branch off the road and plenty of benches to rest on along the way.
Since every stop is worth checking out, you can’t go wrong.
From November to May, the parkway is closed for vehicles on the first Saturday of each month. This is the Bike and Hike Day, when people take their bikes and let their dogs run free through the California Redwood tunnels.
Climb Battery Point Lighthouse
People interested in historical trivia mashed up with stunning nature will want to visit Battery Point Lighthouse.
Located on an island next to Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, Battery Point is one of the oldest lighthouses on the great California coast.
The lighthouse and the accompanying museum are open to the public. You can climb to the lighthouse top and see furniture, photographs, and tools that are over 150 years old.
The museum is open daily during the summer and on weekends from October to March. The lighthouse is only accessible during low tides to ensure visitors’ safety.
Besides the museum, you can enjoy the view as waves crash below you with a rumbling sound.
Spend The Day on the James Irvine Trail
If you can set aside an entire day, there’s no better trail in Redwood National Park than the James Irvine Trail.
The 10.7-mile hike will take you on a journey over the hillsides and through centuries-old redwoods. It typically takes travelers between 4-8 hours to complete depending on pace, and whether they choose to tack on the Fern Canyon Loop.
The James Irvine Trail provides several high viewpoints points where you can observe the trees from a variety of angles. What’s great about the trail is that the scenery changes constantly. Redwoods, waterfalls, rivers, and hilltops can all be found on this day trip.
If you find the strength to go the distance, you’ll make it all the way to Gold Bluffs Beach which provides excellent views of the Pacific Ocean.
You can combine the James Irvine Trail with your trip to Fern Canyon or the Miner’s Ridge Trail as well.
That’s A Wrap!
There are many other trails and places to visit, but these are our top 10 things to do in Redwood National Park.
No matter if you’re into hiking, camping, or road trips, Redwood Park is sure to satisfy your need for nature.