It’s a strange feeling standing amongst the giant redwood trees. And as we continued south on our Northern California road trip, we were enveloped by them.
They surrounded us with strength and power, towering over us so tall we could rarely see their upper branches.
It seemed nearly impossible to capture the grandeur of the redwood trees and the contrasting feeling of both awe and insignificance.
I gave it my best shot. Below are the photo highlights from hiking and driving south from Crescent City, California to Fort Bragg through the giant redwood trees.
They provided a sharp contrast to the wide-open coastal views we had been enjoying as we drove from Astoria along the Oregon Coast.
Our Northern California road trip journey
Our overall journey was pretty massive, traveling from Vancouver to San Francisco. We used a variety of transit methods, traveling directly from Vancouver to Seattle via bus. From here, we enjoyed the train to Portland. Then we hired a car and headed south along the Oregon coast.
It wasn’t long after crossing into California that we began to see the big redwood trees. We made many stops between Crescent City and Fort Bragg. The three highlights are marked in red on the map.
- Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
- Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
- The Avenue of the Giants in Humbolt Redwoods State Park
Tips to enjoy the giant redwood trees
There are hundreds of miles of trails weaving through 40,000 acres of old-growth redwoods in Northern California. While some people say there are better trails and sites, really, whatever you choose will be amazing.
Therefore, it’s encouraged that you don’t just spend time in crowded, more popular areas like Fern Canyon and Tall Trees Grove.
The US National Park Service does offer a few tips to enjoy the redwood trees, summarized here:
- Download and use their free mobile app.
- Don’t just look at the trees from the car. Park and enjoy some of the trails. Note that parking may be more difficult if you have an RV, but there are some options.
- Stop at the visitor centers for each park. Here you can learn about current conditions and also the best roads to take. Note that the tall trees will interfere with your GPS accuracy.
- Don’t forget to plan ahead for where you want to spend the night. The park campgrounds fill up well in advance, and backcountry camping requires a permit.
- Be safe, especially around wildlife like elk. Don’t risk your safety for a great selfie.
Rather than selfies, we brought a tripod on our Northern California road trip. This allowed us to capture some of the magnitude of the trees in comparison to our size, as you can see in the images shot just above from both Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park and Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.
Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
We entered Jedediah Smith from the south on Howland Hill Road and looped up to the north. Although starting out paved, the road quickly became a hard-packed dirt road with incredible scenery.
We stopped and hiked at Stout Grove. I recommend both the drive and the hike.
Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
Prairie Creek is home to some of the tallest trees on earth, and one of the tallest is found in the “Big Tree Wayside” off of the Foothill trail. Its photo is up above, the first of the three tripod photos.
In addition to trees, we also noticed some interesting berries, but are not sure they are edible.
This state park is great for hiking with loads of well-signposted trails. From the Northern end of the park, there are several relatively short trails leading out to a lesser-known beach.
The Avenue of the Giants in Humbolt Redwoods State Park
This 31-mile drive through the redwood trees was the highlight of our Northern California road trip.
We did stop at “Pepperwood” for a hike, although Founder’s Grove was the hiking area that had been recommended to us. Either way, the rain came, and we cut our hike short.
More about redwood trees on this Northern California road trip
- The world’s tallest tree, a 380-foot-tall Redwood called “Hyperion” is in the Redwood National park system, but they keep its location a secret. It’s so secret fact that in 2022 they started charging fines of up to $5,000 and six months in jail for seeking it out. The now out-of-bounds area is found here.
- The Coast Redwood is the tallest living tree on earth and a fascinating excursion on any USA road trip.
- Not only are they tall, but they are also old. Fossil research suggests that relatives of today’s coast redwood trees thrived in the Jurassic Era, 160 million years ago.
- Only about 5% of the world’s old-growth redwood trees exist today, and 95% of these are in California, mostly in protected parks.
- We drove by three places that had a “famous” drive-thru tree for $5, but we didn’t see the point without kids, and besides, we can’t imagine that the redwood trees like it very much.
- You can stop into visitor centers at each park for free trail maps or pre-purchase this waterproof, tear-resistant trail map from National Geographic of the Redwood National and State Parks.
Practical information on tree care
Nature takes care of trees in the forests, sometimes with protection by park rangers. If you run into anything that needs attending to, here are contact numbers for the parks listed above.
- Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park (707) 464-6101
- Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park (707) 488-2039
- The Avenue of the Giants in Humbolt Redwoods State Park – (707) 946-2409
However, if you have your own trees, you might need a bit of help from experts like Waco professional arborists or Missouri City professional arborists.
Save on your trip with these resources
These are our go-to companies when we travel. We believe this list to be the best in each category. You can’t go wrong using them on your trip too.
- Flights: we use Expedia for the best and cheapest flight options.
- Accommodations: we use Booking.com (hotels) or VRBO (self-contained).
- Cars (gas or electric): we use RentalCars to search for deals and dealer ratings.
- Campervans or Motorhomes: we use Campstar where Albom Adventures readers get a 3% discount
- Private guides: we love the private guides at Tours by Locals
- Travel Insurance: our go-to is World Nomads*.
Check out our travel resources page for more companies that we use when you travel.
*World Nomads provides travel insurance for travellers in over 100 countries. As an affiliate, we receive a fee when you get a quote from World Nomads using this link. We do not represent World Nomads. This is information only and not a recommendation to buy travel insurance.
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Actually, Prairie Creek used to have the largest coast redwood, and the tallest one was published as Redwood National Park when National Geographic covered the measuring in 2006. The berry in the photo is edible. It’s Salmonberry. We get some scratches and bleeding from the stems when we explore. My name should be linked with a page about new updates. Follow the breadcrumbs from that page to the main page and more if you are interested.
Cheers, M. D. Vaden
Thank Mario. This is great information. We were in Redwood National Park as well. Also, good to know about the berry.
Haven’t been to see the Redwoods in a very long time, but I can still remember the impression they made on me. So huge and serene. High time we made another trip! Thanks for sharing the great photos!
Pictures do give these trees justice, I’ve seen them a couple of times and have never grown tired of looking at them. They are magnificent in person!
indah nuria savitri
We missed the Redwood when we visited CA last spring but we managed to enjoy Muir Woods. You’re right, it’s such an incredible feeling to be aming the giants, yet peaceful 🙂
I have not seen them up close like that. I would have been in awe for sure. I love that pic. of you and your husband in front of that massive tree! Amazing!
The redwood trees are truly breathtaking. It has been too long since I have been to a redwood forest. Your photos are amazing!!
They do seem other worldly, they don’t they!
Other worldly is actually quite a good descriptor for these trees.
Beautiful world we have isnt it? We need to take care of it for it to take care of us back. I am so sirry to be mushy but these trees are just amazing!
We visited there eight years ago. I kept saying to people, “These trees are just so big. So BIG!” It was amazing.
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Amazing, great serie of shots!
Wonderful! After seeing the Sequoias recently, I cannot wait to visit the redwood. I have a thing for big trees.
Wonderful images. I would love to see those trees in person some day.
When we lived 7 hrs. South, we used to go to Yosemite almost every year for 2 decades, and they have a special section for the Sequoias. Always have the sense of awe, that I am just a small part of something bigger (history). And the smell of the forest is stronger than at open areas. That is my impression:)
Now we live about 3 1/2 hours from Yosemite, so I’m spoiled!
These trees are impressive.Very beautiful views among trees and I am sure you all had great time walking among these trees…
Those trees are gorgeous. It’s been a wish of mine to see the redwoods. Not sure if it will ever happen.
Thanks for stopping by my blog. Beautiful images.
I cannot wait to see the Redwoods some day. They are high on my bucket list. Your pictures are stunning. You captured their enormous nature so very well.
Those trees are majestic!
Great pics. Growing up in Northern California I have always been in awe of the Redwoods. I love being around them.
Thanks for taking me back to something I love.
I have seen the Great Redwood Trees in California, but not for many, many years. Like you, I was awe struck … it is hard to imagine the size and the beauty of these trees and how old they must be. Every time I hear about a fire in California (which sadly is often these days) I pray that the Redwoods will survive it.
One time many years ago we drove through the Redwoods!! Your photos are wonderful!!
I visited one park during my visit to California during the 90’s. As you said, the immense trees make you feel so insignificant. Great photos by the way. It’s impossible to capture their majesty on film (my opinion). Same as no photo really gives the feeling of the Grand Canyon.
I have seen them. Until you see them in person you can’t get a feeling for their size.
We have camped in both Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, near the river, and at Prairie Creek. Prairie Creek was my very first camping experience, and we loved it. We saw a lot of wildlife there. We hadn’t been married very long on our first visit. We went back years later after we had the kids with us. They were also with us at Jedediah Smith. i’ve never felt so small in my life. In those days, I didn’t have a digital camera, so I didn’t take many photos.
Exceptionally tall trees are very difficult to photograph but you have made an excellent job by including yourselves.
They are magnificent aren’t they? Almost too good to be true.
I love visiting the redwoods! Hoping to go again later this summer.
My mom and dad were there years ago. I still remember the pictures. Wish i could go one day. Blessings to you!
Kim Marie Ostrowski
It looks like a raspberry but yello.
Not sure if they are like that before ripe we’ll have to look that up
Looks lovely there those huge trees love the photo of you both looking so small LOL
Have a treetastic day Rhonda 🙂
artmusedog and carol
Redwoods are so majestic and your photography is too!
Happy Week to you ~ ^_^
Yes, I’ve seen these majestic trees. They made me feel small and insignificant.
Have a fabulous day. ☺
No I missed out on seeing these when we visited San Francisco. We had a choice between Yosemite National Park and Big Sur. There were many big redwoods in Yosemite National Park however. But I am guessing they weren’t as big as these ones.
This is the third direction, due north. The giant coast redwoods start a few hours north of San Francisco and go up to the top of the state.
I haven’t seen the Giant Redwoods in person, and I’m sure film and photos don’t fully do them justice — but they’re spectacular even in those mediums!! Thanks so much for the awesome pics! 🙂
Alex J. Cavanaugh
I remember driving through there when I was a kid. Really impressive.