Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park boasts an unreal old-growth Redwood forest along with 106 campsites and a plethora of exciting activities. The 10,000-acre park was established in 1929, in honor of Jedediah Smith, an early explorer who traveled west from Mississippi to California. Located just nine miles east of Crescent City, California, the park is a truly special place that is a part of the 62,098-hectare UNESCO California Coast Ranges International Biosphere. The park encompasses 7% of the world’s old-growth redwood forests, which were once abundant in northern California.
Jedediah Smith was a well-known, early American explorer who journeyed into the area of the park in 1828. Smith had a huge hand in researching and recording the geology and geography of several western states, including Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and California. The park was originally home to the Tolowa Native American tribe, who inhabited the area until the depletion of resources and cultural conflicts with European settlers. Most of the tribal members were decimated by disease that the new settlers introduced into the environment. There are several exhibits on the cultural history of the park and its surroundings available at the visitor center.
Once at Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park, you can enjoy a wide range of year-round services including campsites that are ideal for all types of visitors, from RVers to bikers and hikers. There are a number of activities to enjoy within the park, including fishing, boating, kayaking, and trekking across 20 miles of hiking trails that wind through incredible redwood trees, some of which stand at over 300 feet tall.
Winters are cool, but far more mild than in northern California's interior. They are also wet, often bringing 100 inches of rain or more. Summer brings fog rolling in off the ocean and higher temperatures, though the moderating effects of the ocean means conditions are rarely scorching at the park.
Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park is accessible from State Highway 199, which runs east to west and is the only paved road within the park. The highway cuts through the northern portion of the park. While driving along the highway, you'll find the eastern section to be mellow and easy, though the western portion does have some hairpin turns. Eventually, the highway climbs out of the park and into the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. If you're headed that way, expect some hills (there's nothing too steep though).
Visitors will also find a number of unpaved roads within the park. Walker Road runs north from State Highway 199 along a portion of the Smith River. The road does contain precarious driving conditions, and RV drivers should use caution while navigating it. Howland Hill Road travels through the southern portion of the park. Trailers and larger RVs are discouraged from traveling on that gravel road. Drivers will encounter several steep climbs, hairpin turns, and switchbacks while driving this road.
The campground has several one-way paved roads that meander through the various loops and arms of the campground. There are no real tight turns to maneuver between the various loops. Drivers are advised to be aware of pedestrians within the campground while driving under the posted 15 miles per hour speed limit. There are several parking lots scattered around the park, including at the Simon Reed Grove Trail and Stout Memorial Grove. You can also park at the campground if you are staying overnight.
All camping spots are back-in, and many are relatively short. Parking may require some patience if you have a rig or trailer that's near the length limit. There's ample parking for personal vehicles available at the park's trailheads.
Visitors to the Jedediah Smith Campground will experience some of the finest camping that northern California has to offer. Sites are all set in a thickly forested grove, filled with behemoth redwoods and carpeted with a thick layer of ferns, mosses, and lichens. The abundance and magnitude of the greenery here is truly spectacular, and you're sure to have an amazing view from right out of your tent or RV.
The campground at Jedediah Smith includes 106 campsites that are available for RVs, trailers, and tents. Each campsite contains a fire ring, picnic table, and metal food storage locker. Campsites are situated along five loops that are connected with a winding one-way road through the campground. RVs are limited to 25 feet in length, and trailers must be no more than 21 feet in length. There are no hookups or pull-through campsites available for RVs, but given the length restrictions, backing in should not be a problem for most.
Parking pads are paved and generally level, and some sites are ADA-accessible. The campground boasts several showers and restrooms, as well as fresh drinking water stations. Other amenities within a short walk of the campground include a visitor’s center, an amphitheater, and a winter boat ramp. The park offers a dump station for RVs and trailers at the entrance of the campground. Generator use is limited to daytime hours. Pets must be on a leash and must sleep within a tent, a car, trailer, or RV. Reservations can be made up to six months in advance and are highly recommended during the busy season, from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
There are no solely first-come, first-served campgrounds in the park. However, unreserved camping spots can be taken on a first-come, first-served basis.
In addition to its sizeable and well-maintained campground, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park also sports four lovely rental cabins. The cabins are all adjacent to the campground, so guests here will have the same easy access to all the nearby amenities. And, like the RV/tent sites, the cabins all sit underneath a towering canopy of redwoods. Each cabin has a partially sheltered wooden deck that's a great place to birdwatch, enjoy a book or simply relax. When weather rolls through, hunker down underneath the patio roof and enjoy a redwoods rainstorm - there's nothing quite like it!
Each cabin can accommodate up to six guests. The cabins each have two twin-sized bunk-beds, though visitors should note that cabins DO NOT have bedding, so you'll need to bring your own. Cabins do have electric outlets and lights, as well as heating. There are no in-cabin restrooms, but the campground restrooms (which are modern) are within easy walking distance. Outside there is a picnic table, fire ring, and barbecue grill.
While pets are allowed at normal campground spots, they are not allowed in the cabins, (so Fido will have to stay home if you decide to book one). Cabins are ADA-accessible and can be reserved up to six months in advance.
Like many of California's state parks with campgrounds, Jedediah Smith Redwoods has several sites dedicated to vehicle-free camping. The hike-and-bike campsites, comprising five primitive sites just a short walk to the north of the main campground, is reserved for those traveling through the park by foot or bicycle. Hike-and-bike campers are allowed access to the same amenities (restrooms, showers, etc.) as RV/vehicle campers. Like the other campsites here, the hike-and-bike spots are reservable up to six months in advance (and, since there are only five, they go quickly!)
Bikers can enjoy a variety of rides ranging from paved and gravel roads to back-country trails. The paved Redwood Highway, a smooth ride providing spectacular views of towering, old-growth redwoods, is particularly popular with road cyclists. Another great route is the gravel Howland Hill Road, where you can bike to Crescent City along a wonderfully diverse trek that includes plenty of hills to climb. Mountain bikers find a challenging ride along the 20-mile Little Bald Hills Trail which crosses over into Redwood National Park. Given the wonderful scenery in and around Jedediah Smith State Park, there are really no bad options.
Smith River and Mill Creek offer visitors plenty of aquatic activities. There is a beach area along Smith River where you can snorkel and swim. This calm, clear stretch of water is also a great place to try stand-up paddleboarding. Kayakers on the Smith River can find both challenging river flows with numerous rapids and easy-paddling areas where the floating is superb. You can soak up the rich green scenery while lazily drifting along. Visitors will find two boat ramps within the park where they can launch their watercraft. The park allows motorized boats, with size restrictions. The state park itself does not offer any rentals, but there are several private operators in the area.
Hiking is the most popular thing to do in Jedediah Smith Redwood Park. The park has more than 20 miles of established hiking trails that offer options for novices and experts alike. Two popular easy trails are the half-mile Stout Grove Trail and the four-mile Hatton Trail. Stout Grove is considered to be one of the most photogenic spots in the redwoods, while the longer Hatton Trail offers more topography and diversity. Moderate hiking trails include the one-mile Nickerson Ranch Trail, the four-mile Hiouchi Trail, and the five-mile Boy Scout Trail. The 10-mile Little Bald Hills Trail, which climbs nearly 2,000 feet and crosses into Redwoods National Park, is one of the Jedediah's more strenuous options. All the park's trails are easily accessible - as soon as your park your RV, you can start exploring!
Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park has a fascinating visitor’s center where you can learn more about the park. The center has numerous interactive exhibits that cover the ecosystem, history, and cultural aspects of the area. Visitors can enjoy lectures and environmental programs about redwood forests and animals, as well as the Smith River, which plays an important role within the park. The visitor’s center has several exhibits highlighting the life of early American explorer Jedediah Smith, who was instrumental in exploring many present-day states, including California, Arizona, Utah, and Nevada. During the summer season, the visitor center is also the starting point for several guided hikes and junior ranger programs.
Visitors here will relish the chance to photograph giant redwood trees and the verdant understory that thrives beneath them. The forest is dense with old-growth redwoods. These behemoths, most of them many centuries old, can reach 350 feet in height and 20 feet in diameter. Along with the old-growth forest, you will be able to take snapshots of wildlife such as black bears, deer, coyote, fox, and raccoons. Birds that occupy the forest canopy can lend themselves to prize-winning shots too. Commonly seen species here include ospreys, American dippers, bald eagles, and numerous species of woodpeckers.
The Smith River is one of the longest free-flowing rivers in California, and it meanders along the eastern boundary of the park. The confluence of the Smith River with Mill Creek boasts excellent conditions for catching steelhead and salmon during winter runs that last from October to February. Summertime offers great conditions for a variety of trout, including cutthroat. Visitors can fish from the shoreline or from boats. There are two boat ramps located within the park: one at Society Hole and one at the Summer Footbridge.
If you do want to fish these rich waters, make sure you grab a California State fishing license first! Also, be sure to be aware of the different regulations between parks -Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, Redwoods National Park, and Six Rivers National Forest.