Redwood National Park
Guide

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Introduction

Nestled in the northwest of California is the majestic Redwood National Park. This park should be a must-see for every RV traveler on the west coast due to it being home to some of the tallest trees in the world. Redwood National Park encompasses 130,000 acres of enchanting prairies, cascading waterways, and nearly 40 miles of organic coastline. An RV trip to Redwood National Park is unlike any other. You have the chance to gaze at redwoods up to 370 feet tall that soar above like skyscrapers and Giant Sequoias that are up to 3,200 years old. Whether you want to take your camper to wild beaches or lush meadows where Roosevelt Elk graze, this national park offers a world of its own to discover.

There are so many activities to do at Redwood National Park that the list can seem endless. You can gaze at the horizon at High Bluff Overlook or Klamath River Overlook and look for wild whales, pelicans, and sea lions. You might want to take a serene walk to soak in the essence of the ancient redwoods that tower above on the Lady Bird Johnson Grove Loop. You might even want to explore rugged tide pools and hit the waves at Endert’s Beach.

Hiking, biking, and horseback riding adventures also await you on over 200 miles of tranquil trails if you are up for the challenge. There are also five visitor centers within Redwood National Park where you can learn about the efforts to save the park’s giant trees and the natural and cultural heritage of the area. Whatever calls you to the alluring mystique of Redwood National Park, there are loads of activities to enjoy all year round.

The coastal location of Redwood National Park keeps temperatures typically mild year-round. In the winter, you can expect more rain, and the summer brings the sun and a mystifying fog to the Redwoods. An RV getaway to this incredible natural wonderland is made even easier thanks to the four RV-friendly campgrounds that are available for you to call home during your trip. Whether you are renting or bringing your own rig, a new RV traveler or an experienced one, exploring in an RV is one of the best ways to experience northern California’s natural beauty in an authentic way.

Park Alerts (5)

[Caution] Do Not Rely On Digital Maps

Be aware that many apps that provide digital maps do not not give accurate, site-specific information in this area. Visitors seeking places like the Tall Trees Grove Trailhead and Mill Creek Campground have been misdirected. Please utilize good judgement!

[Park Closure] Mill Creek Watershed: Temporary Closure For Public Safety [+ Info]

Mill Creek Watershed Day Use Area is closed until the end of the year for road/bridge repairs. Mill Creek Horse Trail and Rellim Ridge Trail (and combined loop) remain open. Accessing other roads, trails, or features in the day use area is prohibited.

[Caution] Conditions on the Road to Fern Canyon

Gold Bluffs Beach Road is not paved and it crosses several streams. Visitors driving low clearance vehicles to Fern Canyon should expect to loose traction or scrape the bottom during these stream crossings. High clearance vehicles are recommended.

[Information] Newton B Drury Scenic Parkway: 1st Saturday Closures

From September to May the parkway is closed to all vehicles on the first Saturday of each month. This is to allow for the popular "Hike and Bike Day". On this special day people can walk, hike, and enjoy the parkway without any motorized traffic.

[Park Closure] Mill Creek Trail: Partial Closure Until Summer 2021 [+ Info]

Nov 2019: The Mill Creek Trail (in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park) is closed from Howland Hill Road to the Smith River. This is to allow for safe construction of the elevated walkway around the "Grove of Titans".

RV Rentals in Redwood National Park

Transportation in Redwood National Park

Driving

Traveling to Redwood National Park in an RV is easy since it’s located off both Routes 101 and 299. In some areas of the park, you’ll want to pay attention to the road accessibility for RVs and large vehicles. It’s suggested to keep RV or trailer driving limited to the major highways near the park, Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway, and roads to the visitor centers and campgrounds. Some routes such as Cal-Barrel Road and Davison Road do not allow or advise against RVs or travel trailers due to the narrow, windy, or unpaved conditions of the road. However, you can usually park your RV nearby and take a smaller vehicle, bike, or explore on foot instead.

Parking

You will find parking for RVs or trailers at the park’s five visitor centers and campgrounds since these are easily accessible for larger vehicles. Parking is limited at major attractions for large vehicles, so if you are planning on visiting any of them with your RV try to arrive early in the day to avoid disappointment. There are more parking options for rental vehicles, towed vehicles, or bikes throughout the park.

Public Transport

If you wish to get to the park by bus, there are private bus companies that provide transportation to the park two times per day. If you are traveling by train, you can take the Redwood Coast Transit System to access some of the trailheads near Crescent City. If you have parked your RV and set up camp, you can always get around the trails of the park by traveling on foot, on a bike, or on a horse.

Campgrounds and parking in Redwood National Park

Campsites in Redwood National Park

Reservations camping

Jedediah Smith Campground

Nestled in an ancient redwood grove with scenic views of the Smith River, Jedediah Smith Campground is another great choice to call home during your visit to Redwood National Park. Jedediah Smith Campground is located a few miles inland from the ocean and directly on a river. It is a highly recommended campsite to stay at due to the towering redwoods that surround it and its well-kept condition.

There are 86 sites available for tents and RVs, and all of them are primitive with no electrical, water, or sewer hookups available. The campground does have some amenities, including showers, bathrooms, barbecues, picnic tables, and a dump station. Due to the great location, you will also have easy access to fishing, hiking, swimming, campground programs, and a visitor center. You should also be able to get cell phone service on all of the well-known providers.

Reservations are required from 48 hours to up to 6 months from the time of your stay. If you do decide to stay at Jedediah Smith Campground, be prepared to book your reservation way in advance as it is a very popular place to stay. Jedediah Smith Campground is open all year round.

Elk Prairie Campground

Open all year round, Elk Prairie Campground is a very unique place to call home thanks to the chance to watch elk and deer graze peacefully in Elk Prairie.

This campground is equipped to handle 75 sites for RVs and the sites are a mixture of level or un-level dirt. The campground can handle RVs up to 27 feet long and trailers up to 24 feet long. All of the sites at Elk Prairie Campground are primitive so there are no electrical, water, or sewer hookups available for your RV. The amenities available for visitors include restrooms, showers, fire pits, picnic tables, and a nearby visitor center. Please be aware that there is no cell phone reception available, however, you can connect to the free WiFi that is located at the visitor center.

Along with staying near some lovely animals, another benefit to Elk Prairie Campground is you will have easy access to over 70 miles of biking and hiking trails. Reservations are required to stay here and can be made up to 6 months in advance.

Crescent City / Redwoods KOA

Crescent City / Redwoods KOA is a great campground choice for your trip to the Redwoods National Park if you are wanting to stay a little closer to civilization.

The campground contains a relatively small number of sites and they are spread out nicely between the six loops. All of the sites within the Crescent City / Redwoods KOA have either water and electric hookups or the option for full-service hookups. Some of the other amenities include WiFi access, cable TV, water collection points, toilets, showers, a playground, sports fields, and a dump station. If you have a big rig you will also be pleased to note that sites feature room for RVs up to 80 feet in length.

The campground is located to the north of the park and is close by historic trees, canyons, caves, a lighthouse, and aquarium, so there will be no chance of boredom. If you decide to call Crescent City / Redwoods KOA your home, you should book a reservation in advance prior to your arrival.

Gold Bluffs Beach Campground

If you want access to a secluded beach and a great view of the Pacific Ocean, Gold Bluffs Beach Campground is the campground for you. Gold Bluffs Beach Campground is typically open year-round and features 26 sites available for tents and RVs. Located right on the beach, this campground is not suitable for trailers. Only RVs that are 24 foot and under will be allowed to stay here.

All of the sites at this campground are primitive so there will be no electric, water, or sewer hookups available for you to use. Despite this, the campground does have some handy amenities, including restrooms, showers, picnic tables, barbecues, and food storage lockers. You should also be able to get cell phone reception on all of the major networks.

Since the campground is quite small, it is important top book a reservation before you arrive. Reservations are available from 48 hours to up to six months from the time of your stay. Dogs are allowed in this campground and on the beach.

Mill Creek Campground

Located under the beautiful shade of towering trees, Mill Creek Campground is a great choice for basecamp if you are interested in being close to the eight-mile-long coastline just south of Crescent City.

Mill Creek Campground has a total of 145 sites available for tents and RVs and it is built for rigs on the smaller side (RVs up to 28 feet and trailers up to 24 feet long). All of the sites here are primitive sites with no electrical, water or sewer hookups. Despite this, there are some other great amenities that you can use, including restrooms, showers, picnic tables, a campfire center, and a dump station.

Mill Creek Campground is open from May to September and will enable you to access to miles of trails and ranger-led programs. Reservations are available from two days to six months ahead of your stay, and the campground is known to fill up quickly during the summer months.

First-come first-served

First-Come, First Served Camping

There are plenty of reservation options at Redwood National Park, but you will not be able to find any campgrounds at the park that offer first-come, first-served camping.

Alternate camping

Backcountry Camping

While not suited for those wanting to stay in an RV, backcountry camping is a rustic way to get up close and personal with the great outdoors. You can get a free permit to stay in the backcountry area of the majestic redwoods as long as you apply up to 24 hours in advance.

There are a total of seven different backcountry designated campsites that you can call home, along with more than 200 miles of backcountry trails. If you decide to go backcountry camping you should talk to the rangers about where the safest areas are away from the bigger animals that also call the park home.

Private Campgrounds

If you are looking for modern conveniences such as full hookups, swimming pools, and wireless internet access, you can stay at the many private campgrounds available around the area. These campgrounds are located in nearby towns like Crescent City, Eureka, and Klamath. These accommodations will vary from rustic cabins to luxury RV resorts, and they can be easily found and reserved online.

Seasonal activities in Redwood National Park

Spring

Leiffer-Ellsworth Loop Trail

If you want to get away from the crowds and take the less-traveled path to get a backcountry glimpse of Redwood National Forest, this is the perfect trail for you. This 2.5-mile moderate hike will take you through dense redwood forest and colorful clintonia, thimbleberry, and red huckleberry bushes. You can step back in time during your RV getaway by walking on a 19th-century Crescent City Plank Road into a majestic canyon.

Horseback Riding

The spring is a beautiful time of year to park your trailer and experience Redwood National Forest while riding a horse. Whether you want to ride under the canopy of tall redwoods or on the serenity of the beach, there are miles and miles of trails to ride. You can hire a private company to take you on a guided tour, or bring your own horses if you’re an avid equestrian.

High Bluff Overlook

One of the best places to enjoy sunset views and spot incredible aquatic creatures within Redwood National Park is at the High Bluff Overlook. Here you can enjoy taking a spring picnic while you soak in stunning views of rocky Pacific coastline. If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of giant whales or majestic sea lions. This is a must-see stop during your spring camper tour of Redwood National Forest.

Lady Bird Johnson Grove Loop

If there’s any trail to explore during your spring RV trip to Redwood National Forest it’s the Lady Bird Johnson Grove Loop. On this trail, you’ll take a scenic stroll amidst the shade of towering ancient redwood trees, enchanting hillside groves, and blooming rhododendrons and azaleas. This is an easy one-mile loop to get just a taste of the amazing scenery this majestic wilderness has to offer.

Exploring Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway

Driving along the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway in the spring is a great way to soak in the wondrous beauty of the redwoods. This 10-mile scenic drive is RV accessible and will enable you to coast along the ancient redwood forest and see enchanting Roosevelt Elk roaming through the brush. You’ll want to bring a camera and slow down to soak in the incredible scenery around you as this is an experience that you will want to show off to your friends and family.

Summer

Tide Pools

If you’re ready for a unique adventure, it’s time to park your RV and get out on the beach and go tidepooling. Tidepooling is an activity that is suitable for people of all ages and involves hunting for natural tide pools that dot the coastline. Endert’s Beach, Damnation Creek, and False Klamath Cove are the best spots to find these majestic sites that are home to sea stars, crabs, and snails.

Campfire Programs

A great way to enjoy an enchanting summer evening by the campfire at the Jedediah Smith, Mill Creek, or Elk Prairie campground is to participate in one of the many campfire programs. You’ll be delighted by stories, slideshows, music, and games hosted by expert rangers. This is an unforgettable way to spend a night under the warm glow of the fire during your summer RV getaway to the Pacific Northwest.

Native American Dance Demonstration

An incredible way to experience the cultural history of the area is to check out a Native American Dance Demonstration held during the summer at the park. You can see the Yurok perform a traditional brush dance at the Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center, or head over to the Jedediah Smith picnic area to check out a renewal dance demonstration by the Tolowa.

Relax At Gold Bluffs Beach

Gold Bluffs Beach is an amazing spot in the park where you can lounge, play frisbee, swim, or fish on the rugged Pacific Coast. Wild elk roam the beach and mesmerizing tall cliffs edge the coastline. Whether you want to enjoy a quiet summer picnic or watch the sunset in an idyllic setting, this is a perfect spot to get away from it all during your summer motorhome trip to Northern California.

Kayak Tour of Smith River

A ranger-led kayak tour of the cascading Smith River is a great way to combine sightseeing with learning. During the paddle, you will get to take in the stunning scenery of the park while also learning about the geology of the river and the natural history of the redwood forest. This beautiful, three-hour trek includes a stop for lunch and a chance to learn from your expert guide.

Fall

Elk Prairie Redwoods

Elk Prairie has its namesake for a reason since it’s a prime spot to catch a glimpse of the wild Roosevelt Elk that call this amazing park home. When visiting this area of the park you are welcome to walk or hike along a gravel trail that will take you through lush woodland. This is a great chance during your RV vacation to spot majestic creatures like mountain lions, coyotes, and black bears too, so keep a lookout and remember to keep your distance from any animals you do see.

Guided Nature Walks

If you want to learn more about the natural wonder and cultural history of the area, you’ll love taking a guided nature walk led by expert rangers. The rangers at Redwood National Park will teach you about the secrets of the redwoods and heritage of the community while you walk or hike through lush forests, grassy prairies, and sandy beaches. This is a great way to capture the beauty of the autumn scenery during your RV trip to Redwood National Forest.

Carruthers Cove Trail

If you’re looking for a moderate trek to spot the wildlife that roams freely in the park, the Carruthers Cove Trail is worth checking out. This one-mile route is steep in some areas, but offers great views of grazing elk and flocks of birds. Once you get out of your RV and on the trail you’ll head towards the beach past colorful alders and berry bushes.

Bike the Coastal Trail

If you want to get out of your RV and head out on a bike with ocean breezes and forest views, this is the perfect trail for you. This three-mile trek is located in the Gold Bluffs Beach section where you’ll have access to the sandy beaches overlooking the Pacific coast. The autumn is a perfect time of year to soak in the majestic scenery of colorful trees and crashing waves. If you plan on biking during your visit, you might want to bring your own bike as there is no guarantee that there will be any available for rent.

Trillium Falls

The autumn is a prefect time of year to park your rig and head out on the Trillium Falls Trail. On this trail, you’ll be greeted by colorful redwoods, maples, and sparkling waterfalls that will be engrained into your memory. Known as one of the best family-friendly hikes in the park, this an easy to moderate trek that is less than three miles long. Remember to bring the camera for great photo opportunities at the waterfalls (or it may also come in handy if you spot a wild Elk).

Winter

Ah-Pah Interpretive Trail

On warmer winter days you can get out and enjoy a tranquil stroll down the Ah-Pah Interpretive Trail, which follows the route of an old logging road. This is an easy trek will take you through the majestic giant redwoods and end in a stunning redwood grove. This is a perfect short hike to take during the winter so you can get back to your warm RV in no time, while still experiencing the serenity of the great outdoors.

Bike the Ossagon Trail

This trail offers a rare chance to bike through old-growth redwoods and eventually end up at the sandy beach. The Ossagon Trail is an easy trek that is just under four miles, so it’s a perfect short adventure you can take on warmer winter days. If you want to bike in a tranquil setting, away from the crowds, this is a great spot during your winter RV visit to Redwood National Forest. Remember to wear a helmet and bring a bike that can handle the snow.

Klamath River Overlook

You won’t want to miss the chance to park your RV and get out the camera at Klamath River Overlook. This is one of the most picturesque spots in the entire park where you will get the chance to soak in views of rugged Pacific Coastline and serene beaches. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of a whale or sea lion. The mossy boulders and rocky shores that dot the coastline and make for some incredible pictures you won’t be able to take anywhere else in the park.

Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center

The winter is a perfect time to visit the Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center, which is open daily year-round, except on national holidays. The center contains some amazing exhibits about the redwood trees and exciting natural history of the area. You can also watch an orientation film and browse the bookstore for some souvenirs. If you want to take some winter beach pictures during your RV trip to Redwood National Forest, this is a perfect spot since it offers beach access.

Winter Guided Hikes

If you want to learn more about the natural history and cultural heritage of Redwood National Forest you’ll love the chance to take a winter hike through this enchanting environment. An expert ranger will entertain you with stories of ranger adventures and trivia about the incredible wilderness all around you. These events are scheduled in advance, depending on weather conditions.

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