The following is an itinerary for visiting Redwoods National and State Parks in a long weekend (3/4 day weekend).
To know about conditions inside the park, stop by at Thomas Kuchel visitor center located south of the park, or listen to 1610 AM on the local radio. Things to know about: a. Weather, b. Streams running across roads, c. Of course, Elk viewing places!
Day 1 — Drive up from the Bay Area
There are some excellent places at Santa Rosa or Petaluma to stop for some food on the way. After pitstops for lunch and breaks, your first halt should be at the Avenue of Giants. On the 101, there will be signs for exiting into the scenic route. The whole stretch is about 25–30 miles, but you can get out into 101 wherever you want (recommend doing the entire 30 miles). This scenic route hosts some of the tallest redwood trees, and there is also a ‘drive-thru’ tree if you are into it.
After visiting the avenue of giants, continue to drive up north to your stay for the night. Some lovely places to crash for the evening are Eureka, Trinidad or you can travel an extra hour up north to Crescent City which is a beautiful location too.
Day 2 — Must see locations inside the park
Next stop is Fern Canyon. The drive to this place is a bit tricky. Make sure you have an SUV or a 4WD which has a high clearance underneath as well. SUV/4WD is not a must-have, but since the place is rainy/wet most of the year, it’s good to have it. You can drive a small car with low clearance, but you might not be able to drive through the road up to fern canyon. You might have to stop before the trailhead and walk from where you parked.
Next stop, a short walk to the Gold Bluffs beach. This place is fantastic, period. Both the times we went to this beach, there was absolutely no human being in the vicinity (GOT Dragonstone beach types). Walk along the coast, think about life, spend time here!
And of course, spot some Elks.
Next stop is Trees of Mystery, home of Paul Bunyan and Babe, located at Klamath. A mini gondola goes up the forest from where there is a decent view of the redwoods. The tickets are about 15 bucks, so it’s your call whether to do this or not. It’s entirely worth it if you are going to hike the wilderness trail on top of the mountain after you get down off the gondola. There is a nice short hike up to where you will board the gondola, which is worth doing even if you aren’t going to do the gondola ride.
After this, explore more around Klamath, have your dinner, have some local craft brews or crash and call it a day.
Day 3 — Some more time in the Redwoods and head back home
Some more hiking. Take a diversion off 101 and get into Newton B Drury Parkway. There are some fantastic short hikes inside here, and there are some unquestionably BIG trees.
Then stop by the Prairie Creek visitor center, relax, and enjoy the views. Or watch the elks graze the fields.
Next, drive up to Lady Bird Johnson Grove trail which is a nice 2-mile loop.
For a weekend, that will cover most of the prominent places inside the park. Other cool things to do are 1. Stop by the highway, and get to the beach (picture below), 2. Get to know about the local redwoods from the park rangers or 3. try some local (sea)food.
Where we stayed:
Ocean Sunset View House - Houses for Rent in Crescent City, California, United States
Entire home/apt in Crescent City, United States. My place is good for couples, solo adventurers, business travelers…
Eco Conscious Mini Apartment - Apartments for Rent in Trinidad, California, United States
Entire home/apt in Trinidad, United States. Petite Suite,3 blocks from town, a circle of Redwoods overlooking orchard…
Where we ate:
Best breakfast place close to the park: https://www.yelp.com/biz/beachcomber-cafe-trinidad
Second best breakfast place: https://www.yelp.com/biz/trinidad-bay-eatery-and-gallery-trinidad
Another good place to eat: (try their tofu croissant sandwich) https://www.yelp.com/biz/the-big-blue-cafe-arcata