Redwood National Park

Redwood National Park sees more than 480 thousand visitors each year

Redwood National Park and the co-managed state parks protect almost half of all remaining coastal redwoods, the tallest trees on earth. There are three large river systems in this very seismically active area, and 37 miles (60 km) of protected coastline reveal tide pools and seastacks. The prairie, estuary, coast, river, and forest ecosystems contain a wide variety of animal and plant species.


 There are sedimentary rocks, metamorphic rocks, and transition rocks in Redwood National Park

The Redwood National Forest is mostly underlain by Franciscan assemblage, mostly containing sandstone and mudstone. It consists of rocks that have been sheared and lifted from the ocean floor as a result of the Cascadia Subduction Zone.

In the Redwood Forest, there are sedimentary rocks, metamorphic rocks, and transition rocks. The sedimentary rocks serve as ground water reservoirs and conductors for the forest. They come in the form of sandstones, mudstones, and pebble conglomerate. When the sedimentary rocks get hot enough, they recrystallize, forming metamorphic rocks like redwood creek schist. Transition rocks are a type of rock that are caught in between sedimentary and metamorphic rocks.

Seismic Activity
Earthquakes are very common within California, so it is no surprise that they are present within Redwood National Park. This area is prone to have more seismic activity than anywhere else in the United States. Three tectonics place, North American, Pacific, and Gorda, meet off the shore of Cape Medocine, 100 miles southwest of the park. Most of the earthquakes are small, but in the 1990s, nine earthquakes reached about 6.0 on the Richter Scale.

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Native American History

Home of the Tolowa and the Yurok tribes

The RNSP collections contain materials associated with both the cultural and natural history of the parks. The collection includes a small traditional basket collection, about 25,000 historic and prehistoric archeological objects, and nearly 5,000 herbarium specimens. Also, RNSP is unique in the national park system for its extensive watershed restoration program, so the records and items associated with this program are archived. The collection is used by park staff for research, exhibit preparation, and documentation of the parks’ administrative management of the site.

CDPR maintains their collection in Sacramento, and it’s open to the public. Contact them at

Dance Demonstrations

American Indian dance demonstrations presented by members of the Tolowa and the Yurok tribes are performed in RNSP and the surrounding area. There is an annual Tolowa conduct a renewal dance demonstration held at the Jedediah Smith campground, on Highway 199 just west of the community of Hiouchi. This occurs normally in mid-July.

Call for dates and times, (707) 464-6101

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Park History

How Redwood became a National Park

Cultural landscapes provide a living record of an area’s past, a visual chronicle of its history. These landscapes are shaped through time by land uses and management, politics and property laws, levels of technology, and the area’s economic conditions. Cultural landscapes are continually changing, while at the same time providing a good source of information about specific times and places.

Redwood National Park

The landscape associated with the Lyons’ ranches is significant because of historical and present day manipulation by both American Indians and EuroAmericans.
The Bald Hills Archeological District exhibits at least 4,500 years of human use and encompasses many sites of prehistoric activities.
Radar Station B-17, which sits atop an ocean bluff south of Klamath, is an example of a World War II early warning radar station. The two structures include radar antennas and two machine gun emplacements.
The Prairie Creek Fish Hatchery near Orick, was one of the first small local hatcheries developed to improve the area’s sport and commercial fishing. Constructed in 1936, the hatchery is one of only three remaining hatcheries that were built in California from 1871 to 1946.
Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park

The Kelsey Trail linked Crescent City with the Salmon and Trinity gold mines in the 19th century.
Camp Lincoln, as one of the major 19th century military outposts in Humboldt and Del Norte counties, is designated a California state historical landmark.
Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

The Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park Visitor Center and associated structures are all historically significant as examples of Civil Conservation Corps construction carried on in the state parks during the 1930s.

Numerous historic structures have been documented within RNSP. These structures range from the Old Redwood Highway (running north and south of the Klamath River), to structures such as ranching features and barns. Some structures are part of the larger cultural landscape. Segments of the Old Redwood Highway and Radar Station B-71, a World War II radar station disguised as a barn, are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Redwood National Park:

The Prairie Creek Fish Hatchery, located off Highway 101 near Orick, was one of the first small local hatcheries developed to improve sport and commercial fishing in the area. The hatchery, constructed in 1936, is one of only three remaining hatcheries that were built in California from 1871 to 1946. The hatchery is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Six sites in the Bald Hills near Redwood Creek are associated with late 19th century cattle and sheep ranching. The Lyons’ Ranches Rural Historic District includes eight structures dating to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Each structure has been stabilized, and some of the structures are eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
East of Crescent City in the Little Bald Hills is Murphy’s Ranch and outlying barn site, which dates circa 1884 to the 1920s. The ranch was established along the historic Kelsey Trail, a pack route linking Crescent City with the Salmon and Trinity gold mines.
A remnant of the Trinidad Trail joins the Tall Trees Grove Trail. The trail connected coastal supply centers with early gold mining sites, and was later adopted by homesteaders in the Bald Hills.
Several sites associated with the Union Gold Bluffs Placer Mine, which was in operation from 1872 to 1901, have been identified in the Gold Bluffs Beach area.
Radar Station B-71, which sits atop an ocean bluff south of Klamath, is a rare example of a World War II early warning radar station. The site consists of two structures and other military features, including radar antennas and two machine gun emplacements.

Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park:

Camp Lincoln, which consists of four structures located east of Kings Valley Road, is designated a California State Historic Landmark for its significance as one of the major 19th century military outposts in the vicinity of Humboldt and Del Norte counties. Only a house and outbuilding date from the 19th century.
Walker Ranch, dating from the early 20th century, rests along the west side of the Smith River and consists of concrete foundations, walkways, and walls.
Huffman Ranch, on Howland Hill Road, consists of a house and large garage.
Nickerson Ranch, along Mill Creek, was established during the late 19th century. Once a cabin, garden, and orchard existed here, but no physical remains of the cabin are visible today.
Other historic buildings within Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park are Lincoln School built in 1871, the Tracy Property from the 1920s or 1930s, and the Hickock House from the 1970s.

Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park:

The Old Redwood Highway, originally constructed in 1923, traverses the western section of the park.
Remains of the Del Norte Southern Railroad can be found along the Trestle Loop Trail. The railroad was a subsidiary of the Hobbs,Wall and Company, which controlled large land and timber holdings throughout the region in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The railroad was used to transport lumber from the forests to the company’s mill in Crescent City.
Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park:

The Boyes House and associated structures are in the northeastern section of Elk Prairie. The site consists of an early 20th century Bungalow Style residence, several other structures, and a small orchard.
Other historical buildings and structures within the park include the Huggins Homesite (occupied from 1914 to 1967 by Frederick Huggins), Caruther’s Cove Cabin, the Indian Tree House (a hollow, burned out redwood), and the Old Cabin and Store Site.

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The best things to do in Redwood National Park

Pick the right drive for your time, vehicle and driving skills.
Choose A Scenic Drive
There are lots of options for windscreen views of old-growth forests.

Outside the parks are plenty of lodges and other accommodations.
Find A Place To Sleep
We have four developed campgrounds, and seven backcountry sites to camp at.

There are walks for every ability.
Take a Walk in the Redwoods
If you have five minutes – or all day, there are many options for a memorable stroll.

You will find staff ready to help, park information, as well as quality selections of sales items.
Visit A Visitor Center
Visitor Centers are helpful places to get more details.

Get Ready To Camp In The Wild
Get Into The Backcounty
A good backcountry trip begins with good preparation.

We offer many activities for kids
Encourage The Kids To Discover
There’s a wide range of activities, programs and ed-ventures for kids.

Discover deeper meanings about the parks.
Join Ranger-led Programs
Free ranger-led programs will reveal more than facts about the park.

See a wide range of forest, river and ocean dwellers
Safely Watch the Wildlife
You can find animals from bugling elk, bubbling whales, bears to banana slugs.

Many places are bike friendly.
Get Pumped and Grab the Bicycle
A variety of biking opportunities and experiences are found along tens of miles of trails and roads.

What lives in the redwood forest? Did you know that Redwood National and State Parks offers far more than just redwoods? Visit one of the five visitor centers to find out about ranger-led programs. Pick up an official map and look for these place names. Suggestions are given north to south.

Discover Howland Hill Road (motorhomes and trailers not advised): a 10-mile scenic drive through old-growth redwoods, along Mill Creek, with Stout Grove a ½-mile walk through a river bottom grove of tremendous trees.
Explore Enderts Beach and Crescent Beach Overlook (trailers not advised). Stand before outstanding Pacific Ocean views from the overlook; you may even see a gray whale! Walk 1-mile to Enderts Beach, an access route to multi-colored, myriad tidepool creatures. Be sure to check low tide times.
Drive to Klamath River Overlook, a prime spot for watching the gray whale migration. Look for other marine mammals and a host of seabirds any time of year. Hike ¼ mile down a steep trail to the lower overlook and more dramatic views.
Get off the beaten path and onto Coastal Drive (motorhomes and trailers are prohibited on gravel section). This 8-mile road winds past expansive Pacific Ocean views, the World War II Radar Station, and Highbluff Overlook. Look through binoculars at the massive off shore rocks to spy thousands of seabirds nesting.
Travel Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway. Not even the Avenue of the Giants can beat this! A 10-mile scenic drive through ancient redwoods. Stop and walk an 1/8 of a mile to Big Tree; you’ll see why! Watch for Roosevelt elk grazing in the prairie.
Investigate Davison Road where Roosevelt elk often hang out in Elk Meadow. Trillium Falls Trail is a 2½ mile loop trail through ancestral forests and has one of the few water falls in the parks. This trail is many rangers’ favorite – and it has plenty of parking for all vehicle sizes, picnic tables and restrooms.
Follow Davison Road (length limit of 24-feet and trailers are prohibited) to the gray sands of Gold Bluffs Beach. The dirt road crosses two streams before you get to the Fern Canyon parking area. Nothing compares to Fern Canyon with its 30-foot walls dripping wet and full of ferns. But be prepared for summer crowds and frequent parking problems. Even when the summer foot-bridges are installed expect to get your feet wet.
Be sure to stop at Kuchel Visitor Center one mile south of Orick. This is the parks largest visitor center with numerous exhibits, a 12-minute video, and beach access.

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The forest canopy provides an amazing plant life for Redwood National Park

You can view and search a detailed list of plants that are found in Redwood National and State Parks by visiting the CalFlora online database.

Visitors often come just to see the redwoods. They are the world’s tallest trees, but they are also just one species in an incredibly varied ecosystem. From the wind-pruned, salt-tolerant Sitka spruce by the seaside, to the cool, moist redwood groves, and sunny, open grasslands of the prairies, visitors can find an interconnected community of greenery. In this narrow zone where land meets sea, salt-laden winds, cold fog-shrouded days, steep slopes, and sandy beaches conspire against plants.

Only the toughest survive. Their stunted size and wind-pruned shapes bear witness to an ongoing bout with the parks’ harshest environment.

Dunes shift with the action of wind and water. Beach pea (Lathyrus littoralis), beach strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis), and sand verbena (Abronia spp.) adapt to this dynamic environment by anchoring themselves with long runners on or below the surface.

Hardy Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis), able to withstand salt winds and harsh conditions better than other conifers, dominate the most exposed forest sites. Crescent Beach, Gold Bluffs Beach, Freshwater Lagoon Spit, and the Coastal Trail are great places to discover these tenacious maritime residents.

The coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) and Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) are the two dominant trees of the old-growth redwood forest. The species associated with redwood groves varies according to whether an area is upland, streamside (riparian), along a flood plain (alluvial), or close to the ocean.

Salt spray and salt-laden wind injure redwoods; the beach, dune, and scrub communities provide the coast redwood with a buffer from the harsh coastal climate.

The protected valleys and alluvial flats found along streams and creeks provide ideal growing conditions for the coast redwood, with many trees exceeding 300 feet (100 meters) in height. Other trees include hardwoods such as tanoak (Lithocarpus densiflorus), madrone (Arbutus menziesii), big-leaf maple (Acer macrophyllum), California bay or laurel (Umbellularia californica), and red alder (Alnus rubra). Sword fern (Polystichum munitum) and redwood sorrel (Oxalis oregana) are the most common members of redwoods’ understory, and are accompanied by rhododendron (Rhododendron macrophyllum), huckleberry (Vaccinium spp.), salal (Gaultheria shallon), azalea (Rhododendron occidentale), and other shrubs.

On dry, windy slopes and ridges, redwood growth is limited by water stress. Here, trees may reach an average height of 200 feet (61 meters) or less.

At higher elevations, and further inland, redwood seedling establishment is limited by hotter, drier conditions, and the redwood forest gives way to a mixed evergreen forest. Dry forest species include Douglas-fir, tanoak, madrone, California bay, chinquapin (Chrysolepis chrysophylla), canyon live oak (Quercus chrysolepis), and Jeffrey pine (Pinus jeffreyi).

Do you want to learn a more about recent discoveries in redwood forests and other park habitats? Our park partners at Humboldt State University have created the Forest Physiology Lab for staying upto date with the cutting edge science being done in the parks.

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image of a national park

Animal Life

There is abundant forest wildlife

Find Out What Birds You Might Find Here
Birds Of Many Varieties Fly By

Tide Pool Creatures
Find Out What Land Mammals You Might See
Land Mammals of Redwood
Information About Water-Going Mammals
Marine Mammals of Redwood
Learn About Some Of the Redwood Animals That Are Very Rare
Some Redwood Animals Are On The Brink
Fish are a part of the roiver, ocean and forest ecosystem
Fish Of The Redwood Parks

The ecological diversity of Redwood National and State Parks is recognized around the globe. The parks and the resources they contain have been designated a World Heritage Site
Visitors to Redwood National and State Parks have a great chance of seeing California sea lions, giant green sea anemone, bald eagles, Roosevelt elk, and of course, a banana slug. The ambitious visitor (and often just lucky) may see them all in one day.

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Hiking Trails

The best hikes in Redwood National Park

Walks and Hikes
You can get a glimpse of what the redwood parks have to offer with these suggestions.
Try To At Least Do Some of These
Ideas for visits lasting less than an hour.

Walks, hikes and experiences that take less than two hours.
Any Of These Options Will Be Worth It
Quality experiences can happen on these trails.

These hikes and suggestions will take about half a day to do.
Suggestions For Half Day Activities
Half a day will immerse you in some amazing places.

Day-longs hikes are great ways to see whole ecosystems
The parks are full of day-long hikes.
Hundreds of miles of trails to choose from.

Pets in parks are redistricted – but there are still good options for humans and furry friends.
See where leashed dogs can be taken.
Learn how your pet can become a BARK Ranger!

Planning Your Walk or Hike
Any trail in old-growth redwooods is “the best trail”. A quality experience in a few places may be better than trying to see it all.

No matter your comfort level and experience, there are walking and hiking options for you in the redwoods. For orientation and planning purposes, we consider the Klamath River as the boundary between the north and south areas of the parks. Crescent City and Hiouchi is in the north, Klamath is in the middle, and Orick is in the south. For more trip-planning information and maps you can stop by one of our visitor centers, or check out the backcountry trip planner.

Be aware that most of the trails north of the Klamath River do not have parking large enough for trailers or RVs. Many of the trails south of the Klamath River do have parking for trailers or RVs.

Start making your plans based your answers to these questions…

Do you have less than an hour, or a full day?
What is the fitness level of your group?
Which area of the parks are you visiting?
Do you need easy parking, and paved roads?
What are your accessibility requirements?

Rangers’ Recommendations For Walks and Hikes

There are dozens of trails with hundreds of miles of hiking and biking opprtunities in the park. These are our top recommendations for visitors wanting to quickly find a walk in the redwoods most suited to their needs. Most (not all) of these recomendations have parking for larger vehicles like RVs or trailers – though it is important to read the recommendations for details about what size restrictions are in place for each trailhead. Our visitor centers and visitor guide and newspaper have much more information about walks, hikes, and trails.

30 minutes or less: Big Tree Wayside
1-hour: Trillium Falls Trail Lady Bird Johnson Grove Simpson-Reed Trail
2-hours: Stout Memorial Grove Prairie Creek-Foothill Loop
Half a day: Tall Trees Grove
All day: James Irvine Trail-Fern Canyon Loop

What To Expect?
More than 200 miles of trails weave through a variety of environments; including prairies, old-growth redwood forests, and beaches. Elevations range from sea level to just over 3,000 feet (1,000 m). Consistently mild temperatures make year-round exploration a possibility. The parks’ trails are well maintained – though weather conditions may make the trails slippery. Few trails are paved.

Due to the wet winters and the strong winds we have, large trees often fall, and they will block trails. These natural events will cause a trail closure. Find out more about current conditions.

Walking through a redwood grove on a fog-shrouded morning can be an unforgettable experience. Sounds are reduced to the musical gurgle of water trickling amongst ferns and mossy rocks. Light ebbs with the somber mist and shafts of sun hang like cobwebs. Stillness and peace weave their spells upon the respectful traveler.

North: Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.

Simpson-Reed Grove.
Leiffer Loop.
South: Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.

Big-Tree Wayside.
Elk Prairie Trail.
Foothills – Prairie Creek Loop.
Revelation Trail.
Note: The “Lady Bird Johnson Trail” in Redwood National Park is partially paved, but it has some steeper slopes and is not ADA accessible.

What Trails Are Pet Friendly?
There are two dirt roads under old-growth redwoods that are friendly for leashed pets. But, because of the parks’ wild animals like elk, bears and mountian lions, regular pets are not appropriate on park trails. Service dogs are welcome on any of our trails. Learn more about pets in the park.

Seasonal Bridges
In summer, seasonal foot-bridges are constructed across some waterways to allow for easier access to some of the parks’ frontcountry, and backcountry highlights. Depending of the water-levels, these footbridges are installed by June and removed by October. These trails are not wheelchair accessible.

Redwood Creek’s bridges are in the backcountry of Redwood National Park and allow for easier access to several backcountry campsites.
Fern Canyon’s bridges are in the front-country of Prairie Creek State Park. Fern Canyon is a popular summer destination, and it will be very busy. (There are no old-growth redwoods at Fern Canyon.)
Smith River’s bridges in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park allow for walking access to Stout Grove.

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