Redwood Overview

Redwood National and State Parks, located along the coast of northern California, USA, are a complex of several parks that collectively protect 139,000 acres (about 562 square kilometers) of forested and coastal area. These parks include Redwood National Park, established in 1968, and three state parks: Del Norte Coast, Jedediah Smith, and Prairie Creek, which were founded in the 1920s. Together, they preserve nearly half of the remaining old-growth redwood forests, home to the tallest trees on earth, some reaching heights of over 350 feet (about 107 meters).

The parks are situated in a region known for its significant ecological diversity and richness. The majestic coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens), the main attraction, thrive in the foggy coastline environment. These ancient forests, some trees of which are over 2,000 years old, create a profound sense of scale and beauty, unmatched by any other landscape. The parks’ ecosystems also include vast prairies, oak woodlands, wild riverways, and nearly 40 miles (about 64 kilometers) of pristine coastline, providing habitats for a wide variety of animals, including Roosevelt elk, black bears, and over 400 species of birds.

Redwood National and State Parks offer visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves in the serene beauty of the redwood forests through a network of trails that cater to all levels of hikers. The parks provide scenic drives, educational visitor centers, and numerous viewpoints and picnic areas. Among the most popular destinations within the parks are Fern Canyon, with its walls draped in ferns; Tall Trees Grove, home to some of the tallest redwoods; and the scenic vistas along the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway.

The Redwood parks are not only a sanctuary for these towering trees and the ecosystems they support but also a place for visitors to find tranquility and connection with nature’s grandeur. They stand as a testament to conservation efforts and the enduring value of preserving natural wonders for future generations to cherish and explore.  The Redwoods are one of the Seven Natural Wonders of North America.

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Park Map
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Redwood National Park Highlights


Redwood National Park, a realm of ancient giants and lush forests along California’s northern coast, is a sanctuary for a myriad of wildlife species, each adding to the park’s mystique and offering visitors a chance to connect with nature’s grandeur.

Roosevelt Elk The majestic Roosevelt Elk, the largest of North American elk, thrive in the park’s prairies and meadows, a testament to successful conservation efforts.

Black Bear Adaptable and omnivorous, Black Bears roam the park’s forests, foraging for berries, nuts, and occasionally fish, embodying the wild spirit of the Redwoods.

Banana Slug A symbol of the rainforest’s rich biodiversity, the Banana Slug, with its bright yellow color, fascinates visitors and plays a crucial role in decomposition.

Northern Spotted Owl An emblem of Pacific Northwest forests, the elusive Northern Spotted Owl finds refuge among the ancient trees, a species of concern due to habitat loss.

Pacific Fisher The rare Pacific Fisher, a member of the weasel family, navigates the park’s dense forests, relying on its agility to hunt and evade predators.

Steller’s Jay Vibrant and vocal, Steller’s Jays are easily recognized by their striking blue plumage and bold behavior, adding color and sound to the forest.

Coastal Cutthroat Trout Inhabiting the park’s clear streams and rivers, Coastal Cutthroat Trout are a vital part of the aquatic ecosystem, supporting a diverse food web.

Gray Whale During migration seasons, Gray Whales can be seen off the coast, their impressive journeys from Baja to Alaska passing by the park’s rugged shoreline.

Sea Anemone Tide pools in the park reveal Sea Anemones, their tentacles a vivid display of marine life’s intricacy, thriving in the intertidal zones.

Bald Eagle Soaring above the forest canopy, Bald Eagles epitomize freedom and strength, their presence a sign of the park’s healthy, intact ecosystems.

Redwood National Park’s wildlife, from the towering Roosevelt Elk to the delicate Sea Anemone, showcases the incredible diversity and resilience of life in one of the planet’s most awe-inspiring natural settings, inviting all to explore and marvel at its beauty.

Tallest Trees in the World

Redwood trees, scientifically known as Sequoia sempervirens, are among the most magnificent and iconic trees on Earth. These ancient giants are renowned for their immense size, longevity, and majestic beauty.

Redwoods are coniferous evergreen trees that can reach staggering heights, with some individuals towering over 350 feet (107 meters) tall, making them the tallest trees on the planet. Their massive trunks can exceed 20 feet (6 meters) in diameter, and their branches form a dense canopy that filters sunlight, creating a cool and shaded understory below.

Redwood trees are characterized by their distinctive reddish-brown bark, which is thick, fibrous, and deeply furrowed, providing protection against fire and insect damage. Despite their massive size, Redwoods have relatively shallow root systems, which spread out laterally to anchor the trees in the soft, moist soil of their coastal habitat.

These remarkable trees are not only awe-inspiring to behold but also play a vital ecological role, providing habitat for a diverse array of plant and animal species and helping to maintain the health of the forest ecosystem.

Redwood National Park Pictures

Engaging Redwood National Park

Explore the majestic groves of towering Redwoods on the park’s extensive network of hiking trails. Wander beneath the canopy of ancient trees, marveling at their immense size and tranquil beauty.

Choose from a variety of trails, ranging from easy nature walks to challenging backcountry treks, each offering opportunities to immerse yourself in the lush, verdant landscapes of Redwood National Park.

Take a leisurely drive along the park’s scenic byways, winding through old-growth forests, along rugged coastline, and past stunning viewpoints. Enjoy panoramic vistas of towering Redwoods, pristine rivers, and expansive meadows as you soak in the natural splendor of the park from the comfort of your car.

Redwood National Park Trails

Fern Canyon Loop Trail

Rating: Easy

Distance and Elevation Gain: 1 mile loop with minimal elevation gain

Description: This unique trail leads hikers through a lush, narrow canyon whose walls are completely draped with ferns, creating a prehistoric ambiance. Located in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park (part of the Redwood National and State Parks system), it offers a flat, accessible path that meanders along the streambed, requiring crossings over logs and shallow water. It’s a magical experience, often used in films to depict ancient worlds.

Tall Trees Grove Trail

Rating: Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 3.3 miles round trip with an elevation gain of about 800 feet (244 meters)

Description: This trail offers an intimate encounter with some of the tallest trees on earth. Access requires a free permit from the park visitor center, ensuring a peaceful experience. The hike descends into a secluded grove of towering coast redwoods, providing a sense of awe and solitude. The return hike is steep, challenging but rewarding with its serene beauty.

Lady Bird Johnson Grove Trail

Rating: Easy

Distance and Elevation Gain: 1.4 miles loop with minimal elevation gain

Description: This easy loop trail winds through a majestic old-growth redwood forest on a relatively flat path, making it accessible to most visitors. The trailhead is located off Bald Hills Road, offering interpretive signs that share insights into the ecology and history of these ancient forests. It’s an excellent introduction to the park’s redwood ecosystems.

Coastal Trail: Gold Bluffs Beach to Fern Canyon

Rating: Easy to Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 4.5 miles one way with minimal elevation gain

Description: Part of the longer Coastal Trail that spans California’s coastline, this segment offers stunning ocean views alongside the chance to walk among the dunes and beach. The trail culminates in the remarkable Fern Canyon, providing a diverse hiking experience that combines coastal and forested environments. Wildlife sightings, including elk and various bird species, are common.

Trillium Falls Trail

Rating: Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 2.8 miles loop with an elevation gain of about 400 feet (122 meters)

Description: This trail takes hikers through lush old-growth forests to the charming Trillium Falls. The path includes a few short, steep sections but is mostly gentle and offers the opportunity to see redwoods along with a beautiful waterfall. It’s a great way to experience the diverse plant life and serene environment of the park.


1. How do the Redwoods compare to the Squoias?

The Redwoods and the Sequoias are both iconic species of trees found in California, but they differ in several key aspects:

  1. Size: Sequoias (Sequoiadendron giganteum) are known for their massive size and are considered the largest trees in the world by volume. They can reach heights of over 300 feet (91 meters) and have trunks that can exceed 30 feet (9 meters) in diameter. In contrast, Redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) are the tallest trees in the world and can reach heights of over 350 feet (107 meters), but they have slightly smaller trunks compared to Sequoias.
  2. Habitat: Sequoias are primarily found in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, particularly in the western slope at elevations between 5,000 and 7,000 feet (1,500 to 2,100 meters). Redwoods, on the other hand, are typically found in coastal regions of Northern California and southern Oregon, where they thrive in the cool, moist climate along the Pacific coast.
  3. Bark: The bark of Sequoias is thick, fibrous, and deeply furrowed, providing protection against fire and insect damage. In contrast, the bark of Redwoods is thinner and fibrous, but it tends to be more fibrous and has a reddish-brown coloration, giving the trees their name.
  4. Cone Size: The cones of Sequoias are relatively small, typically measuring about 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 centimeters) in length. In comparison, the cones of Redwoods are slightly larger, ranging from 0.75 to 1.5 inches (2 to 4 centimeters) in length.
  5. Age: Both Sequoias and Redwoods are known for their longevity, with some individuals living for thousands of years. However, Sequoias are generally considered to be older, with some specimens estimated to be over 3,000 years old, while Redwoods typically live for around 600 to 800 years.

Overall, while both the Redwoods and the Sequoias are awe-inspiring trees that attract visitors from around the world, they differ in their size, habitat, bark characteristics, cone size, and age. Each species has its own unique beauty and significance, contributing to the rich natural heritage of California’s forests.

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