A 3 Day Itinerary for Redwoods National and State Parks in Northern California with Wander Free and Queer

Published on February 22nd, 2022

Redwood National Park holds spaces which feel sacred. Standing among the world’s tallest and oldest trees makes our 21st century problems feel more manageable. This national park offers visitors the opportunity to explore nature at a more leisurely pace, soaking in all of the earthy, ancient details. The damp mosses and draping ferns are so dramatic that they once served as the backdrop for movies like Jurassic Park and Star Wars. Even though many of the trails are short, we often spend several hours stopping to touch the bark of the giants and to take hundreds of photos of the impressive groves.

The park is organized into 4 different parts: Redwood National Park, Jedediah Smith State Park, Del Norte Coast State Park, and Prairie Creek State Park. Together these four parks contain and protect nearly half of all the world’s old growth redwood forest. That’s 40,000 acres of giant trees!

Each area has its own unique trail system, groves, and views, so take the time to stop at each state park. It’s free to enter Redwood National Park but there are state park entry fees for Jedediah Smith, Del Norte, and Prairie Creek. 

Day 1: Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park

Jedediah Smith is our favorite of the four park sections. It contains the best trails for viewing the most impressive of the Redwood tree groves. Over 20 miles of trails gives visitors the chance to admire the behemoths from many different places in the park. Seeing the ancient trees on foot is the best way to experience their natural beauty up close and we are excited to share our favorite easy hikes in the area!

The Stout Memorial Grove Trail is a great trail to check out if you are new to the park! It was magical seeing the giant trees alongside the Smith River. The loop trail is less than one mile and has minimal elevation gain. This is a heavily trafficked trail, so if you are visiting during a popular season we recommend getting to trailheads early, in order to have a more peaceful experience. 

Camping in Jedediah Smith State Park

Jedediah Smith State Park Campground is an excellent option for your time at the Redwoods. We camped out in the tent section while we were there, but the campground also has sites for RVs and even a few cabins with electricity. Access to the beautiful Smith River is a high point of this park, and you might even spot an owl or black bear (we did!).

The nearest town to Jedediah Smith State Park is Crescent City, California. While you are in town we recommend checking out Battery Point Lighthouse and museum and then grabbing some dinner at Seaquake Brewing. 

Day 2: Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park

Del Norte is where the tall trees meet the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean. Photographers love this part of the Redwoods park system because the often-foggy weather and rhododendron blooms make for some gorgeous landscape photographs. It’s the least visited of the four park sections, however, because the rugged coastline makes the shore inaccessible in most places.

Although Del Norte is not known for its hiking, we really enjoyed the 1.2 mile scenic Yurok Loop Trail for its expansive coastal views. 

Camping in Del Norte Redwoods State Park

Mill Creek Campground is relatively new and the perfect base camp for exploring Del Norte. The 145 sites are about 10 miles south of Crescent City, where you’ll find businesses and restaurants. Sites accommodate tents, trailers, and RVs and many are first come, first served. 

Worth a Stop: Trees of Mystery

The Trees of Mystery is technically not part of the Redwood National or state park system, but we still recommend visiting, if you can. This tourist attraction right on Highway 101, just south of Klamath, features a gondola ride through the treetops, a canopy trail (not for those afraid of heights), and interpretive trails with redwood giants and carved statues.

We recommend visiting on a weekday, in the morning, as this attraction becomes busier in the afternoons. Admission is $20/adult and $11/child.

Day 3: Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

Prairie Creek is the southernmost section of Redwood National and State Parks. One of our most favorite mornings was spent exploring Fern Canyon, the most popular spot in the area. Named for the ferns covering the 50-foot walls of the canyon, walking through the canyon is an unbelievable experience. Hike the one mile lollipop loop trail which winds up a cobbled stream and be sure to wear appropriate footwear as conditions are always wet and slippery

After you finish up in Fern Canyon, hop in your vehicle and drive the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway. This byway is an alternative to the busier Highway 101 and you will want to allow ample time on the 10-mile drive to stop at the pullouts to admire the giant Redwoods. 

The nearest town to Prairie Creek State Park is Klamath, CA. While you are in town, go check out the view from the Klamath Overlook. Bring your lunch to eat at one of the picnic tables and keep your binoculars in hand for a chance to spot a migrating whale!

Which part of the park are up most excited to explore?

You can visit Redwood National and State Parks year-round, thanks to the more mild coastal temperatures, but in order to avoid the rainy season you might want to plan your visit between May and September. 

There is a rich tribal history within this national and state park system. We always suggest you begin your national park days by stopping by the visitor center to learn about the park’s history and ongoing conservation work. The Redwood National and State park system has five visitor centers to choose from. We visited them all because we enjoy collecting the stamps and stickers!

A few more things to KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:

  • Pets are not allowed on any hiking trails 
  • RVs and trailers are prohibited on many roads
  • Bring food and water as there are very few resources inside of the park

About the authors: We are Danella and Allie of Wander Free and Queer. We live and travel full-time in our Fifth Wheel with our two dogs. We started a small crochet business on the road in 2018 and we enjoy creating products that bring visibility to the LGBTQ+ community. In our travels, we enjoy hiking, rafting and visiting National Parks.

What do you think?

How much can you make renting your RV?

See How Much You Can Make

How much can you make renting your RV?

See How Much You Can Make

Similar Articles

4 Tips for RVing Near Cities with Wander Free and Queer

Oftentimes, when we picture RV life, we envision our rigs out on the open road. We think about camping in…

Read More

Top 8 Amusement Parks in Kansas

Kansas—a land of endless plains and farmland. There isn’t much to do in this state, right? Wrong! Kansas is actually…

Read More

Keeping Your RV in Tip-Top Shape while Exploring the Country with Vanna Mae

Spring into early Summer is one of the most gorgeous times to hit the road and explore the country. I…

Read More

How to Beat Travel Anxiety

Traveling can make people anxious for a variety of reasons! Some people develop anxiety about traveling focused on the safety…

Read More

10 Underrated Destinations You Have to Visit!

Crowds at popular travel destinations around the U.S. seem to be increasing each year. Whether it’s thanks to beautiful pictures…

Read More

5 Ways to Enjoy a Rainy Day in your RV with Project Trek

While it’s not everyone’s idea of a fantastic family adventure, an RV road trip is a slice of Americana that…

Read More