The redwood trees, also known as Sequoioideae, are one of the many icons of the U.S. These trees can tower up to 300 to 350 feet tall and 16 to 18 feet across, making them the largest trees in the world. Every year, millions of locals and tourists visit parks like Redwood National Park to see these creations of Mother Nature.
In the U.S., California is known to be the home of the giant redwoods and is one of the reasons people flock to the Golden City. Aside from its Malibu and San Diego beaches, California is also frequented by tourists who want to see the redwoods for themselves. One can take pictures of these giants, or enjoy a pleasant hike among the redwoods. Redwood tree parks also offer overnight camping for those who want to spend more time surrounded by nature.
That being said, here are some of the top places to visit in the U.S. to see the redwoods.
Best Parks to See the Redwoods in the U.S.
1. Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
Photo by daveynin on Flickr
Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park is one of the best parks to see the amazing redwoods and is known for preserving old-growth redwoods. It is part of the Redwood National and State Parks complex along with Prairie Creek, Del Norte Coast, and Redwood National Park. The park is also one of California’s prized UNESCO World Heritage Sites, proof of its beauty and timelessness. The park also served as a filming location for the iconic Star Wars: Return of the Jedi due to its otherworldly appearance.
At the park, you can enjoy a quiet drive as you enjoy the tranquility of the park. Drive along the Howland Hill Road and feel as if you’re transported in a different world, away from the busy city life of California. The sight of fern-carpeted sides and redwood trees are simply unparalleled. Take a walk among its easy hiking trails and be in awe at the unspoiled forest full of redwood trees. Follow the Boy Scout Tree Trail for an up-close look at the redwood trees, or choose the Stout Grove, an easy yet scenic trail.
Address: Crescent City, CA 95531, USA
2. Big Basin Redwoods State Park
Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash
Big Basin Redwoods State Park is California’s oldest State Park, and one of the best places to see the redwood trees. The park features more than 18,000 acres, with 80 miles of trails, and is home to a variety of animals including coyotes, deers, woodpeckers, and bobcats. Big Basin Redwoods State Park is known for its trees that are almost as tall as the Statue of Liberty. The park is also known for the so-called Mother of the Forest, a tree that is almost 300 feet tall, and the Father of the Forest, another tree that is about 1,800 years old.
The park has been open to the public since 1902 and offers numerous hiking and camping opportunities. From the park headquarters, follow the moderate Sequoia Trail to find waterfalls and redwood trees. The Redwood Trail is the easiest and gives you spectacular views of the redwood trees and is perfect for short nature trips, birdwatching, and hiking. For seasoned hikers, hike the Skyline-to-the-sea Trail, a three-day backpacking adventure.
Address: 21600 Big Basin Way, Boulder Creek, CA 95006, USA
3. Redwood National Park
Photo by Everett McIntire on Unsplash
Located in the northernmost area of California, Redwood National Park is home to several redwood trees and is visited by millions of tourists and locals. It forms the Redwood National and State Parks complex along with Prairie Creek Redwoods, Del Norte Coast Redwoods & Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Parks.
Redwood National Park has different activities available, whether for hikers or simple nature lovers. The Lady Bird Johnson Grove is a mile-long hike that can be easily done in less than an hour. This trail winds through patches of old-growth redwood and Douglas fir and is maintained with hard-packed gravel, making it an easy hike. For tourists with limited mobility, the Lost Man Creek Trail is an ideal trail to follow. The Tall Trees Grove and Redwood Creek trails are more on the challenging side, perfect for experienced hikers. Redwood National Park has trails ranging from easy, to moderate and hard.
Address: Highway 101 Orick, CA, Redwood National Park, CA 95555
4. Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
Photo by Nathan Yergler on Flickr
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is named after Julia Pfeiffer Burns, a well-known rancher, and resident of the Big Sur region until her death. Like Redwood National Park, this state park is known for its redwoods, but with additional views of the Pacific coast. Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is home to 300-foot coastal redwood trees that are almost 2,500 years old. Apart from redwoods, other trees can be found including blue gum eucalyptus, tanoak, madrone trees, and arroyo willows. You can also find abundant wildlife in Julia Pfeiffer Burns Park such as bald eagles, California Condors, sea otters, and the rare Smith’s blue butterfly.
Enjoy splendid views of coastal redwood trees overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Follow the Ewoldsen Trail and hike past canyons of redwoods and get a glimpse of the famous California coastline. The Overlook Trail is easily accessible from the entrance of the park and lets you see the breathtaking McWay Falls, an 80-foot waterfall that tumbles down a granite cliff into a cove and directly into the Pacific Ocean. During the rainy season, there may be areas and trails that will be closed or will be out of bounds.
Address: 52801 California State Route 1, Big Sur, CA
5. Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
Photo by ars5017 on Flickr
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is located southeast of Big Bas in and miles away from the beaches of Santa Cruz. The park is famous for its 40 acres of old-growth redwoods that are 1,800 years old. Giant sequoia trees are also found in the park. Tourists visit Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park to see the Fremont Tree and the Giant Tree, and the 277-foot tall redwood, the tallest in the park. You can also find banana slugs, white-crowned sparrows and black-tail deer in Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
Although this is a smaller park, it includes 24 kilometers of hiking trails. There are also trails that give you the best views of Monterey Bay and trails that lead to the beaches on the San Lorenzo River. For a convenient trip around the park, hop on the Roaring Camp Railroad for a one-hour tour. This steam locomotive train has been around since the 1800s and weaves through the redwood forests and to the summit of Bear Mountain. Along the train ride, your informative conductor narrates the history of the park.
Address: 101 N Big Trees Park Road, Felton, CA
6. Muir Woods National Monument
Photo by Prayitno on Flickr
Located just about 20 kilometers away from San Francisco, Muir Woods National Monument is easily the most accessible park to see the coastal redwood trees. It is named after John Muir, a prominent naturalist, and advocate for the preservation of wilderness in the United States. Because of its proximity to the city, it tends to get crowded. If you prefer fewer crowds, Big Basin State Park near Santa Cruz is a must-visit.
Despite its smaller size, the park offers a variety of activities and picture-perfect scenery. There are six miles worth of hiking trails with different levels of difficulty and distance. Rangers are also available to give guided walks and impart knowledge about the forest. For a safer trip to Muir Woods National Monument, stick to the walkway with placards. It is also recommended to arrive early in the day to avoid the surge of crowds.
Address: Mill Valley, CA 94941, USA
7. Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
Photo by Kirt Edblom on Flickr
Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park is the home to thousands of coastal redwood trees. The park, located in Humboldt County, boasts several kinds of ferns and towering redwoods. Apart from coastal redwood trees, the park is home to coast Douglas fir, Sitka spruce, and western hemlock trees. Its appearance straight out of a Jurassic Park film has attracted millions of visitors since its establishment in 1925. The park is also famous for its Roosevelt Elks, and during mating season, you may be able to hear the echoes of their calls.
The Fern Canyon is perhaps the highlight of any visit to Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Named after the ferns spreading across its 50-foot tall wall, it can be accessed through a short hike. Other short hikes include the Nature Trail, a 1-mile hike that passes through riverside vegetation and coastal redwoods trees. Take note that while this is one of the shorter trails, it is fairly steep. You can also enjoy a small but tranquil picnic among its grounds as you enjoy the view of the redwood trees. This is also one of the best camping spots in California, so don’t miss the chance to spend time with nature and go camping at Prairie Creek.
Address: 127011 Newton B. Drury Scenic Pkwy, Orick, CA 95555, USA
8. Humboldt Redwoods State Park
Photo by Kirt Edblom on Flickr
Located north of San Francisco is Humboldt Redwoods State Park, another popular spot to see the redwoods. The park is home to the Rockefeller Forest, the largest remaining old-growth forest of coastal redwood trees. It is named after Alexander von Humboldt, a renowned polymath, geographer, naturalist, and explorer. The 52,000-acre park boasts over 17,000 acres of old-growth coastal redwood trees that stand over 300 feet and are thousands of years old
Humboldt Redwoods State Park is the best park to experience the coastal redwood trees within the comforts of your car. Drive along the Avenue of the Giants, a 32-mile highway that passes by groves, picnic spots, and forests of redwoods. You may pick up an auto tour guide at the visitor center so you can get to know more about the history of this state park. Don’t miss the Eel River if you want to go swimming, fishing, or boating. Like Redwood National Park, there are plenty of hiking trails with various difficulties and distances.
Address: 17119 Avenue of the Giants, Weott, CA 95571, United States
9. Butano State Park
Photo by David Baron on Unsplash
Butano State Park is a perfect cho ice if you prefer somewhere more secluded and less crowded. The park is located in the remote areas of the Santa Cruz Mountains, making it a great alternative to the more populated Big Basin. It features small to medium-sized redwood trees nestled into a coastal canyon. There aren’t many of the huge redwood trees, but the trees are still worth seeing. Due to its location near the coast, Butano State Park makes a rejuvenating escape from the summer heat.
Make sure to visit the Candelabra Tree, an old-growth redwood with branches that are as large as a tree itself. There are almost 40 miles of hiking trails, some of which are suitable for mountain biking. Butano State Park also has 21 drive-in campsites and 18 walk-in campsites. The park is also within the vicinity of other attractions such as Pescadero State Beach and Pigeon Point Lighthouse.
Address: 1500 Cloverdale Rd, Pescadero, CA 94060, United States
10. Sequoia National Park
Photo by Don Graham on Flickr
Aside from the neck-bending sequoia tree, Sequoia National Park is also home to several redwood trees. The park may not be as popular as Big Basin or other national parks in California, but it’s still one of the best places to see the redwoods. Not only does it have the world’s biggest trees, but also some of the oldest that we have on Earth.
You can find the General Sherman tree at Sequoia National Park, the world’s largest known living single-stem tree by volume. It’s located after a long trail, but it is worth every step as you see this massive tree up close. If you want to see giant sequoia trees and redwood trees, plan a visit to Sequoia National Park.
Address: Tulare County, California, United States
How Tall Are Redwood Trees?
Like the giant sequoia tree, a redwood tree can grow up to hundreds of feet. Mature trees can reach up to 200 to 240 feet high with diameters of 10 to 15 feet. Some redwood trees, however, can reach up to more than 300 feet. On the other hand, a sequoia tree can grow up to more than 250 feet in height and up to 30 feet in diameters.
What Is the Best Time of the Year to Visit Redwood Forest?
The best time to visit parks like Redwood National Park highly depends on your personal preference. However, spring is normally when fewer people tend to visit especially during the earlier months of spring. You can get a chance to see species of migrating birds in spring when the weather is pleasant and favorable. Majority of the isitors come during summertime and if you prefer fewer crowds, plan a visit during autumn or winter.
Where Is the Best Place to Visit the Redwood Trees?
It is highly recommended to visit Sequoia National Park if you want to see the biggest sequoia trees and redwoods. On the other hand, if you prefer somewhere less crowded, Butano State Park is a good choice. Muir Woods National Monument is the most accessible park if you are coming from the San Francisco area, but is also one of the most crowded during high season. Redwood National Park is also the best place to visit the redwood trees for tourists with limited mobility since they have trails that are wheel-chair friendly.