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Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park is the northernmost state park on California’s “Redwood Highway” where you can find these massive, endangered trees. The park lies along the Smith River, nine miles east of Crescent City, which is 350 miles north of San Francisco. Covering 10,000 acres, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park is home to seven percent of all of the remaining old-growth redwoods left in the entire world. This is a great starting point to book an RV in Del Norte County and journey south to visit the other national and state parks in this part of California that features these redwoods.
Jedediah Smith is believed to be the first explorer of European descent to navigate the interior of northern California, back in the 1820s. As settlers made their way west, the demand for lumber increased. The Save The Redwoods League realized the importance of these beautiful, historically significant trees, and was able to start preserving small groves one at a time. The park was officially established in 1929. Today it serves as a popular recreation area, offering opportunities in beautiful old-growth redwood groves with a lush undergrowth of ferns, rhododendrons, and azaleas. Park visitors will share the land with deer, black bear, mountain lions, river otters, and beavers, and RV camping is available year-round.
Other than the redwoods, Jedediah Smith’s major landmark is the Smith River. This is one of the largest free-flowing rivers in California and provides numerous recreational opportunities. The river can be dangerous after heavy rains, but most of the time it’s a pleasant spot to refresh after a hike. There are a couple of beaches spread out along the banks of the river, swimming holes, and boat launches dotting the park. Children enjoy bringing snorkeling gear and looking for steelhead, cutthroat, and salmon, which the anglers can also catch with a proper license year-round.
There are over 20 miles of hiking trails at this park of varying difficulty. One beautiful, easy hike is the half-mile Stout Grove trail, a flat pathway through one of the park’s old groves. More moderate hikes include the mile-long Nickerson Ranch Trail and the six-mile scenic Mill Creek Trail. Those with more time and higher fitness levels can try the ten-mile Little Bald Hills Trail where you can explore old-growth forests and find a peek of an ocean view.
Exploring Jedediah Smith doesn’t have to be all about outdoor activities either. There’s a fantastic visitor center where you can participate in interpretive programs to learn about the fascinating trees, wildlife, and local history. Educational campfire programs are held throughout summer nights, and you can spend the daytime driving your rental RV along the park’s roads and marvel at the towering giants overhead.
The RV campground at Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park contains 87 sites, six of which are wheelchair-accessible. This is an older campground, constructed in the time of the Civilian Conservation Corps, so you won’t find any electrical hookups. The roads are narrow and winding also, so the maximum rig length tops out at 25 feet. Keep that in mind when searching for a rental RV.
Don't let any of that deter you though – you won't be able to camp anywhere else in the world under this many old-growth redwoods. The campground is adjacent to the Smith River, and half of the campsites are under the canopy of the old trees. Each campsite includes a fire ring, picnic table, and a food storage locker. The campground also has a dump station and hot showers. You may bring your pet as long as they're attended at all times and kept on a six-foot leash.
Crescent City may be a small town, but there's plenty to do. Additional attractions include the Battery Park Light Museum, beaches and trails at Point St. George, and a marine park. You may want to do all of your shopping in Crescent City, where you’ll find plenty of gas stations and resupply opportunities. You’ll have to dine at one of Crescent City’s great seafood restaurants before leaving town and see how you’d like the fresh catch of the day cooked.
Once you’ve explored all of Jedediah Smith's beautiful forests, go explore the rest! Leaving the park to the south, you'll first come to Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park seven miles south of Crescent City. Beyond that, you'll find Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, Redwood National and State Parks, and Humboldt Redwoods State Park. They're all incredibly picturesque and unique from one another for different reasons. In this same region, there's also Tolowa Dunes State Park in Crescent City and Humboldt Lagoons State Park near Eureka. After driving the length of California's Redwood Highway, you'll find yourself in beautiful Mendocino County.