Redwood National And State Parks is a United States National Park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site on the North Coast of the state of California. The park protects several groves of massive redwood trees, which can live for 2000 years, grow to heights of up to 367 feet, and be as wide as 22 feet at the base of the trunk. Created by Congress to protect lands adjacent to three California state parks (Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park) in 1968 with the creation of Redwood National Park. In 1994, the California Department of Parks and Recreation and the National Park Service agreed to jointly manage the four-park area for maximum resource protection.
American Indians made their homes in the redwood forests for thousands of years before the arrival of Euro-Americans. They made their homes from split redwood planks and had considerable resources in the rich forests.
Demand for lumber accelerated throughout the years. Conservation efforts started in the early 1900s, but were largely ineffectual. By the 1960s, logging had consumed nearly 90 percent of all the original redwoods. It wasn't until 1968 that Redwood National Park was established, which secured some of the few remaining stands of uncut redwoods. In 1978, Congress added more land that included logged-over portions of Redwood Creek. Today, these lands are undergoing large-scale restoration by the Parks' resource managers. Logging continues on privately-held lands nearby and throughout the redwood region.
The North Coast region, which includes RNSP and the adjacent offshore area, is the most seismically active region in the United States. As a result of frequent earthquakes, rapid uplift rates have led to landslides, actively braiding and shifting rivers, and rapid coastal erosion. Three tectonic plates (thin pieces of the Earth's crust which float above the mantle), the North American, Pacific, and Gorda, contact each other at the Mendocino triple junction. This junction lies offshore near Cape Mendocino, which is about 100 miles (160 km) southwest of RNSP. Each of these plates slide against each other as they slowly move in opposing directions. Movement may be as much as two or three inches (5–6 cm) a year. In the 1990s, at least nine earthquakes of magnitude 6.0 or more jolted the North Coast, more than in any other decade within the last century. Because the Gorda plate is subducting beneath the North American plate, there is the possibility of a "great earthquake" occurring in the future.
The three large river systems within the park — the Smith River, the Klamath River, and Redwood Creek — have cut deep gorges through the forest and mountainous terrain. Though there are no natural ponds or lakes in the parks, there are lagoons and marshes, results of oceanic and tectonic processes. Also within the parks' boundaries are the estuaries at the mouths of the Klamath River and Redwood Creek. Salmon and steelhead populations were severely diminished by erosion due to past logging activities.
The park's coastline is home to rugged cliffs where salt-tolerant vegetation springs up among the beaches and rock faces that dominate this stretch of California's North Coast. Among the seastacks, brown pelicans and seals find a comfortable home; crabs and colorful anemones crowd the tidepools along the sea's edge.
Flora and fauna
The Coastal Redwoods are the world's tallest trees, exceeding 300 feet (100 meters) in height, and so, of course are the stars. Sitka Spruce and Douglas Fir trees also abound. Various other hardy plants survive in the narrow zone where land meets sea, salt-laden winds, cold fog-shrouded days, steep slopes, and sandy beaches conspire against plants. Further inland a greater range of hardwoods and shrubs are found.
The diverse ecosystems mean that creatures as different as black bears, sea stars, and bald eagles can be seen by the fortunate visitor in a single day. In addition to the more common inhabitants, many threatened and endangered species rely on the parks' old-growth forests, open prairies, estuaries, and the coastline for crucial havens of survival. Threatened and endangered species found in the park include: Bald Eagle, Brown Pelican, Chinook Salmon, Coho Salmon, Marbled Murrelet, Northern Spotted Owl, Steelhead Trout, Steller's Sea Lion, Tidewater Goby, and Western Snowy Plover.
Marine mammals such as sea lions and gray whales are among the most visible wildlife in the park. Visitors are also likely to see Roosevelt elk browsing in the prairies. Pelicans, ospreys, and gulls are frequently spotted along the coast. Tidepool creatures such as anemones and crabs are easy to spot too.
Temperatures range from 40-60 °F (4-15 °C) year round along the redwood coastline. Redwoods rely on the fog that envelops the coast in the summer and supplies up to 25% of the precipitation. Summers are mild at the coast with warmer temperatures inland, but the aforementioned fog can be a problem, often thick as pea soup and lasting for days to weeks. Early to middle spring and early autumn are a safer bet for sunny days. Winters are cool with considerable precipitation. Pack your rain gear and good walking shoes for the slippery rain forest. Wear layers to accommodate cool to warm temperatures.
- 1 Arcata-Eureka Airport (ACV IATA) is a small airport served by a single carrier, United Express, with 3 or 4 flights daily from San Francisco-SFO and one from Denver-DEN. The airport is located in the town of McKinleyville, south of the park.
- 2 Del Norte County Regional Airport (CEC IATA) is a small airport in Crescent City. It hady twice-daily service to Portland, Oregon on PenAir, which has a codeshare agreement with Alaska Airlines.
- From the north or south, use US Highway 101. Access additional park sites via the Bald Hills Road, Davison Road, Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway, Coastal Drive, Requa Road, and Enderts Beach Road (south to north).
- From the northeast, use US Highway 199. From 199, take South Fork Road to Howland Hill Road.
- Redwood Coast Transit, ☏ . Provides service in Del Norte County and limited service in Humboldt County. Of particular note is Route 20 which travels along Highway 101 from Smith River and Crescent City in the north all the way down to Arcata in the south. No service on Sundays. $30 to travel between Humboldt and Del Norte Counties, $5 just within Humboldt County.
Fees and permits
There is no entrance fee for Redwood National Park. The nearby state parks - Jedediah Smith, Del Norte Coast, & Prairie Creek Redwoods - charge entry fees of $5 per day.
- 1 Hiouchi Information Center, ☏ . US Highway 199 at Hiouchi. Open from mid-June to mid-September, 9AM-5PM. Closed in the winter. Ranger-led walks, junior ranger programs, and evening campfire programs held in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, across the street. Programs occur during the summer season. Redwood National and State Parks' Junior Ranger activity newspapers are available here. Inside: Coast redwood, wildlife, and preservation history exhibits. 12-minute film on the redwoods. Outside: "Trees of the coast redwood forest" walk with waysides. Book store, picnic area, and restrooms.
- 2 Jedediah Smith Visitor Center, ☏ . US Highway 101 at Hiouchi. Open from May 20 to September 30 9AM-5PM. Open winters F Sa Su 10AM-6PM. Closed in the winter. Ranger-led walks, junior ranger programs, and evening campfire programs occur during the summer. Redwood National and State Parks' Junior Ranger activity newspapers are available here. Coast redwood, history, and wildlife exhibits. Nature museum, gift shop, campground, dump station, picnic area, and restrooms. Many trails start here.
- 3 Crescent City Information Center, 1111 Second St, ☏ . Crescent City. Open March - October from 9SM-5PM. Open November - February from 9AM to 4PM. Closures: Thanksgiving, December 25th, and New Year's Day. Junior Ranger activity newspapers are available here. Gift shop, picnic area, and restrooms.
- 4 Prairie Creek Visitor Center, ☏ . Just off US Highway 101, along Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway. Open daily March - October from 9AM-5PM. Open W-Su November - February from 10AM-5PM. Closures: Thanksgiving, December 25th, New Year's Eve, and Easter. Ranger-led walks, junior ranger programs, and evening campfire programs held in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park during the summer season. Redwood National and State Parks' Junior Ranger activity newspapers are available here. Coast redwood forest, wildlife, and history exhibits. Video room available. Nature museum, gift shop, campground, dump station, picnic area, and restrooms. 70 miles of trails begin here.
- 5 Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center, ☏ . US Highway 101 at Orick. Open March - October from 9AM-5PM. Open November - February from 9AM-4PM. Closures: Thanksgiving, December 25th, and New Year's Day. Patio talks and coast walks occur during the summer. Redwood National and State Parks' Junior Ranger activity newspapers are available here. Many exhibits in the visitor center on coast redwoods and watersheds: new technologies! kid friendly! Video room with many films available. Gift shop, picnic area, and restrooms.
- 6 Radar Station B-71: Redwood National Park. The Klamath River Radar Station B-71 in Redwood National Park is a rare, surviving World War II early-warning radar station. Rather than using camouflage materials, the buildings of Radar Station B-71 were constructed to resemble farm buildings to disguise their true purpose. The station consisted of three buildings: a power building disguised as a farmhouse, an operations building, and a privy. The site was protected with anti-aircraft guns and military police.
- 1 Gasquet Raft Race (Gasquet Raft Races), Gasquet (18 Miles inland from Crescent City on Hwy199). Annual Raft Race Benefiting The American Legion Post 548. Held for 46 years, it is one of the biggest events in Del Norte County.
The trails are especially beautiful in the early morning hours or on days of light to medium fog. In the early morning, the sun's angle through the trees produces long beams of light, creating a dramatic theatre of light and shadow and ever-changing shades of green. In the light fog, the forests become a dreamscape of incredible mystery and beauty.
- 2 Big Tree Wayside Walk (Parking for this site is towards the southern end of the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway - about half a mile north of the Prairie Creek Visitor Center.). For those short on time then this 5-minute walk will lead to some amazingly large trees.
- 3 James Irvine Trail to Fern Canyon Loop (Praire Creek Visitor Center is the start of the trail.). One of the longest hikes in Redwood National and State Parks, this 12-mile loop will take you from Redwoods, through spruce forests to the ocean - and back.
- 4 Lady Bird Johnson Grove. An iconic redwood grove in the southern end of the parks that is easy to walk. There are logistical considerations for parking, and RVs and trailers are not advised.
- Prairie Creek - Foothill Trail Loop (Prairie Creek State Park). Located in the southern third of the parks this fully accessible and family-friendly loop trail takes you under some of the tallest trees in the world and follows along a beautiful creek. There is parking, restrooms, and picnic tables close by.
- Simpson-Reed Trail. An easy, ADA accessible walk through beautiful old-growth redwood forests in the northern part of the parks. Limited parking and not suitable for RV's or trailers.
- 5 Stout Memorial Grove Trail. A majestic grove of redwoods next to the Smith River in the northern part of the park. This trail requires some planning about how you will access it. Hours can be spent on a summer's day relaxing on the banks of the Smith River.
- 6 Tall Trees Grove (Tall Trees hikers must first pick up a free permit and get the gate combination from rangers at a park visitor center.). A half-day hike in the southern part of the parks for those ready for an adventure. Made popular by social-media, this trail is one of the more strenuous hikes in Redwood National and State Parks. Access to this area is by permit only and limited to 50 cars per day. You can obtain a permit at one of the visitor centers in the park. The visitor center will provide you access via combination to the gate. You will be on dirt roads, so make sure your vehicle can handle them.
- 7 Trillium Falls Trail. Located in the southern end of the parks this is arguably one of the best family-friendly walks. It also has plenty of parking, picnic tables and restrooms.
There are no campgrounds in Redwood National Park, but the nearby state parks do have campgrounds:
- 1 Mill Creek Campground (7 miles south of Crescent City on US Highway 101 in Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park), toll-free: . Open from May 1 to August 14. 145 sites. Campsites are surrounded by maple, alder and second-growth redwood trees. Trailer length up to 27 feet, RVs up to 31 feet. Amenities include showers, restrooms, four loop trails, hiker/biker sites, dump station, fire pits, no hookups, handicap access, ranger-led walks, junior ranger and evening campfire programs. $35 per night (2020 rates).
- 2 Jedediah Smith Campground (Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, 9 miles east of Crescent City), toll-free: . Open year-round. 86 sites. The northernmost of the four campgrounds in the parks. Facilities and amenities include nature center, bookstore, no hookups, showers, restrooms, river sites, picnic area, many miles of trails, hiker/biker sites, dump station, fire pits, handicap access, ranger-led walks, junior ranger and young naturalists programs, and evening campfire programs. Dump station available. Jedediah Smith campground is on Highway 199 at Hiouchi. RV length up to 36 feet, trailers up to 31 feet. There is a group site for 50. $35 per night (2020 rates).
- 3 Gold Bluffs Beach Campground (Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, 10 miles up Davison Road. Located off Hwy 101. Turn-off is 3 miles north of Orick.). Open year round. 26 sites. Camp along the windswept Pacific Ocean with the coast redwood forest as a backdrop. Located on the coast at Prairie Creek State Park - in the southern part of the parks. To reach Gold Bluffs Beach campground travel three miles north of Orick on US Highway 101, the turn west on Davison Road and continue for four miles (gravel road). 25 RV or 29 tent sites, trailers prohibited, RV length up to 24 feet and 8 feet wide. Amenities include solar showers, restrooms, access to over 70 miles of trails, Fern Canyon, hiker/biker sites, fire pits, no hookups, ranger-led walks, junior ranger and evening campfire programs. $35 per night (2020 rates).
- 4 Elk Prairie Campgound (Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park). 75 sites. Open year round. Elk Prairie campground is 50 miles north of Eureka, CA on the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway just off US Highway 101. Sites: 75 RV or tents, trailer length up to 24 feet, RVs up to 27 feet. Facilities/amenities include nature center, bookstore, no hookups, showers, restrooms, picnic area, over 70 miles of trails, hiker/biker sites, dump station, fire pits, handicap access, ranger-led walks, junior ranger and evening campfire programs. For site-specific information, call +1 707 464-6101 ext 5301. $35 per night (2020 rates).
|Routes through Redwood National Park|
|Crescent City ← Klamath ←||N S||→ Trinidad → Eureka|