Epic Road Trip to Redwood National and State Parks

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Redwood National and State Parks

Redwood National and State Parks in northern California offer a breathtaking experience for nature lovers and those seeking the serene grandeur of some of the planet's tallest trees. The parks are a complex of several state and national parks located along the coast of northern California, which collectively protect nearly half of the remaining old-growth redwoods, the Sequoia sempervirens. These towering giants can live for over 2,000 years and reach heights of more than 350 feet.

Here are some details about the parks:

Location and Parks: The protected areas include Redwood National Park and three California state parks:

Biodiversity: Beyond redwoods, the parks protect vast prairies, oak woodlands, wild riverways, and nearly 40 miles of pristine coastline, all supporting a rich mosaic of wildlife diversity and cultural traditions. You might come across Roosevelt elk, black-tailed deer, a variety of bird species, and other wildlife on your visit.

Hiking and Activities: The parks offer more than 200 miles of trails of varying difficulties. Whether you're looking for a leisurely stroll amidst the forest giants in Fern Canyon, a beachfront walk, or a challenging hike with elevation gains, you'll have plenty of options. There is also the opportunity for backcountry hiking and camping for those truly looking to immerse themselves in nature.

Visitor Centers: Five visitor centers, including the Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center near Orick and the Jedediah Smith Visitor Center, provide exhibits, maps, and brochures, and they can be great starting points for your adventure. Rangers can help you plan your visit, provide park updates, and offer educational programs.

Scenic Drives: For those preferring to take in the sights from their vehicle, scenic drives such as the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway and Howland Hill Road (Note: Howland Hill Road is a dirt road not suitable for recreational vehicles or vehicles with trailers) offer phenomenal vistas and the convenience of experiencing the majesty of the redwoods from behind the wheel.

Climate: The weather can be unpredictable and varies from coastal to inland areas. Fog is common, particularly in summer, and provides vital moisture to the redwoods. Rain is common during the fall and winter months, while summers are cooler than in much of California.

Conservation: Because these parks are protected areas, it's important to follow park rules and regulations to preserve the ecosystems. This includes staying on designated trails, not feeding wildlife, and adhering to Leave No Trace principles.

Before setting out for Redwood National and State Parks, keep in mind this is a large, jointly managed four-park complex, spanning multiple counties in a fairly large region. In addition to doing some additional in-depth planning, before heading out it's also a good idea to check for any recent updates about visitor facilities, trail closures, or changes in park operations by visiting the National Park Service's official website or contacting the park directly for the most current information.

Reviewed by TimJ on 7/9/2024.

Wide-angle photo of tall Redwood trees, taken near the ground in the center of the trees, looking up toward the sky.

Photo:

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