The Redwood National and State Parks’ iconic towering redwood trees stand out in many dream RV vacation bucket lists, and for good reason. There are many incredible things you must see in Redwood National Park, but we’ve narrowed it down to nine for you. This park is in Northern California, and is comprised of state and national lands, including over 138,000 acres of unique landscape, scenic hikes, and amazing Insta-worthy backdrops!
Cruise Down Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway
The tall trees (some over 370 feet) are the most noteworthy “must-see” in Redwood National Park! Furthermore, a scenic drive anywhere here will give an RV traveler plenty to see and experience. The Newton B. Drury Redwood Scenic Parkway is a 10-mile drive through old-growth redwood forest. While much more awe-inspiring than the 101 bypass, it also saves you from the serious grades on the highway, which is a win/win for RV vacationers!
See Elk at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
We always consider wildlife a must-see in Redwood National Park. While you’re on the Prairie Creek side of the park, check out the Roosevelt elk herd. Hunted nearly to extinction, the elk herd now numbers in the thousands. There are two places to view elk; Elk Prairie is the central park location with a visitor center, camping, and many trailheads. The other local is Elk Meadow, off Highway 101.
Wonder at the Redwoods in Lady Bird Johnson Grove
Lady Bird Johnson Grove is also a great area to see the redwoods, this time from 1,000 feet above sea level. Additionally, if you need to stretch your legs, there is an easy one-mile loop trail through the grove. You can photograph entire trees, and from mid-May to mid-June, colorful rhododendrons bloom, creating spectacular photo opportunities.
Hike to Fern Canyon
For foot adventure, there are over 200 miles of trails in the park! One of the most popular ways to get exercise is a hike to Fern Canyon, where Jurassic Park 2: Lost World was filmed. Fern Canyon is described by Steven Spielberg as “an unforgettable natural wonder”. It comprises a narrow canyon with walls covered by ferns, moss, and other moisture-loving plants. The level, one-mile trail is generally passable year-round. Obviously, due to its notoriety Fern Canyon is a must-see in Redwood National Park. If you continue on this trail, you can use the stairway to climb out of the canyon to a former mining town and relax on Gold Bluff Beach, where gold dust was mined.
For more athletic endeavors, the Damnation Creek Trail is one of the most recommended by books and rangers alike. Understandable, because a 1,100-foot elevation drop adds to the challenge! The pathway showcases redwoods, spruce, and more. It follows the coastal trail to a hidden beach (which is sometimes accessible depending on conditions and tide). How can you not categorize a hidden beach as a must-see item at Redwood National Park?!
Take the Sky Trail Cable Car at the Trees of Mystery
When you’ve seen the big trees from the ground, how about from above? The Sky Trail cable car at the Trees of Mystery is a ⅓ mile adventure through the treetops on a gondola ride. Once at the summit, an incredible ocean view awaits on the observation deck. You can either take the cable car back down or grab a walking stick and hike down. We opted to hike, and definitely consider that option the must-see portion of this Redwood National Park adventure.
Tip: Sky Trail is super dog friendly, so bring your fur baby along for this adventure!
Explore Pioneer-Era Lyons Ranch
For history buffs, the Lyons Ranch is a pioneer-era historic district within the park. It is on the National Register of Historic Places. Lyons Ranch is an example of sheep ranching from the late 19th to early 20th centuries. It also depicts the interactions between the Native Americans and European American settlers in Humboldt County, California. The effort to preserve and document the history here has taken over three decades!
Go Off-Road Down Coastal Drive Loop
Ready for some adrenaline? Go off-road down Coastal Loop Drive! This is a 9-mile jaunt featuring narrow roads with steep grades and sharp curves. This drive highlights panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and the Klamath River. This is a must-see coastal drive in Redwood National Park for thrill-seekers.
Additionally, whales, sea lions, and birds can be often seen from overlooks. On this scenic loop, you can stop to visit a World War II radar station. The radar station is disguised as a humble farmhouse and barn. In addition, an alternative route is Howland Hill Road in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.
Tip: Motorhomes and RVs are not allowed on these scenic drives, so big rigs need to find a basecamp.
Kayak the Smith River
When you need some water in your life, kayaking on the Smith River is sure to cool you off. There are calm flat waters to Class 1 rapids. The Smith River offers fishing opportunities for experienced fishermen. For those that don’t travel with their kayaks, there are numerous tour companies ready to guide or rent. River otters, harbor seals, and many species of fish and birds can be seen at various places on the Smith or the Klamath Rivers. In other words, the Smith River offers a variety of adventures!
Lastly, be sure to check with visitors centers at the parks to find what amenities are open due to weather and current conditions! These are our 9 must-see attractions in Redwood National Park. We hope you enjoy the many wonders of Redwood National and State Parks!
When you’re done exploring this beautiful national park, head south to see the 10 Remarkable Things You Must See in Death Valley National Park. It’s one of our favorites!