A Little about Redwoods National and State Parks

The Redwoods National and State Parks are located along the coast of Northern California, just south of the Oregon Border. These parks are unique in that it is a collection of parks; 3 parks are owned by the State of California and 1 park is owned by the US government. They are all very close to one another or share borders so National Park and State Park employees work together. So you may stop by the Visitors Center for a state park but see a lot of National Park merchandise in the gift shop or a National Park employee in the parking lot.

The Redwood National and State Park sprawls over 131,983 acres up along the California Coast, you could spend weeks visiting different areas of the park but you could tackle the most popular parts of the parks in a long weekend. 

This map, courtesy of the NPS shows the length of the Redwood National and State Parks as it runs along the California Coastt

You may recall that there is another park known for its massive trees. Sequoia National Park is home to giant sequoias. Though redwoods and giant sequoias are closely related they have quite a few differences. Giant Sequoias have an immense trunk and are larger by volume but the Redwoods, though slender, grow much taller. Both Redwoods National and State Parks and Sequoia National Park are worth a visit since the tremendous size of each of these species of trees cannot be captured on camera, you must stand under them.

In addition, since redwoods and giant sequoias thrive in vastly different environments these trees thrive in; Sequoias are found in the Sierra Nevada Mountains while the Redwoods grow near the Pacific Ocean on the California coast which sets up the place for some very different areas to explore during your visit to both parks. 

There is no cost to visit the Redwoods National and State Parks since no parks have entrance fees. However, there are entrance fees to drive up to the popular Gold Bluffs Beach and Fern Canyon but both places accept America the Beautiful – The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass Series. There are also fees for camping and specific day-use areas throughout the parks. You can head to the park website for more details on pricing and availability. 

Sun shinning behind a grove of towering Redwoods in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

Explore Star Wars Filming Locations in the Redwoods National and State Parks

You might feel like you’re on a different planet when you walk among the towering Redwoods and you might be right! The Redwood National and State Parks were the filming locations for the Planet Endor scenes in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. It’s hard to figure out exactly where the movie was filmed and it’s rumored that some of the scenes were filmed on private lands but there isn’t harm in heading down some trails in some of the rumored parks! All of these hikes are under a mile, easy and family-friendly.

Visiting Redwoods National Park With a Dog

My dog enjoying one of the few dog-friendly trails in Redwoods National and State Parks

Redwoods National and State Parks were one of the least dog-friendly areas I’ve visited in my travels across the country. It is pretty standard that dogs aren’t allowed on trails in most National Parks but I found it hard to find any trail that was dog friendly in the vicinity. Fortunately, there are a handful of areas that welcome dogs and enough to get you through an extended weekend or weeklong stay if you have a high-energy dog you need to exercise before heading on the trail! I’d recommend stopping by one of the visitors’ centers to speak to a ranger or find a helpful pamphlet about all the dog-friendly trails or parks. Don’t forget to check out my article on the 10 Things You need when Hiking with a dog. Here are some of my favorite trails to visit with a dog: 

  • Cal Barrel Road – 3.6 Miles – Easy –  One of the few trails that takes you through the Redwoods that is dog friendly. This is a must-do if you are in the area with a dog. 
  • Dry Lagoon Beach – Though not a park of Redwoods National Park, this is a part of Humboldt Lagoons State Park, it still is a great place to stop with a dog if you’re heading through the Redwoods. 
  • Gold Bluffs Beach – Mainly just a picnic area but the elk are known to sometimes roam the beach so even a short sniffing walk around the picnic area could be a fun adventure for you and your dog.
  • Avenue of the Giants Auto tour – Since dogs are allowed in the parking lots the Avenue of the Giants 31 Mile auto tour is another good option if you’re traveling with a dog. You can catch a map at one of the entrances just off of Highway 101. Another bonus is that it runs parallel to the highway so while it will make your trip north or south a little longer, you aren’t going out of your way!
  • Go Elk “hunting” – Another mostly car-bound adventure, sometimes the Elk can be found near the Elk Meadow Day Use Area, or Elk Prarie Campgrounds inside Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Remember, dogs are allowed in parking lots or on the roads but they aren’t allowed on trails and keep a safe distance from the elk. 
  • Stop by a visitors Center – There are 5 visitors centers across the different parks. The parking lots and paved paths around the visitors center are dog friendly.
    • Hiouchi Visitor Center in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
    • Jedediah Smith Visitor Center in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
    • Crescent City Information Center in downtown Crescent City
    • Prairie Creek Visitor Center in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
    • Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center in Redwood National Park

Best Hiking in Redwoods National and State Parks

You’ll have to leave the dog at home to check out the rest of these trails. Some of the best hikes in Redwoods National and State Parks are listed below. Remember that is a lot of the park to explore so if you’re looking for more hikes stop by the visitors’ center

View from the California Coastal Trail near Klamath Overlook

Best Places to stay when Visiting Redwoods National Park

During my visit, I stayed in Klamath, CA which is just about in the middle of all the Redwood National and State Parks. It’s a very small town with a gas station, convenience store, a casino, hotel, and a few restaurants. Orick, CA is another nearby area with a similar smalltown vibe.

Crescent City, CA or Eureka, CA are two alternatives for those looking for larger cities with more options for post-hike dinner or drink options. Both are coastal cities so you’ll have gorgeous views steps from your stay but the trade-off is you may have to travel further to your hikes in the Redwoods National and State Parks.