As the largest tree species in North America, redwood is most commonly found on the west coast. Here are our picks for the best places to see redwoods in California.
With an average height of 300 feet and a lifespan of up to 100 years, seeing redwood trees in person is a beautiful and awe-inspiring experience. However, this giant tree species is not as environmentally secure as you may think – it’s actually considered an endangered tree species. We’ve put together seven incredible sites in California where you can go and see this majestic tree.
What are Redwood Trees?
The tallest species of tree on Earth, the redwood is a coniferous evergreen commonly found on the west coast of the US. They can easily be identified by their fern-like leaves, reddish-brown bark, and tall stature. The ‘redwood’ label refers to several different varieties of this tree: Giant Redwoods, Dawn Redwoods, and Coast Redwood. The most common species of redwood found in the US is the Coast Redwood or California Redwood, named for its distribution across the coast of California. Unique and distinctive looking, the Coastal Redwood is also one of the most famous species of tree, featured in the background of many Hollywood blockbusters.
However, like many aspects of our ecosystems, the redwood tree is under threat. As well as facing stressors from invasive species and air pollution, redwood sites are at risk from logging and forest fires. Although able to somewhat adapt to fire and disturbances to their environment, redwoods are still under threat. Damage to the coastal redwood’s habitat has already been done, with California’s oldest state park reporting extensive damage from wildfires in 2020.
Interested in checking out some redwood trees for yourself, but not sure where to find them? Here is where to see redwoods in California so you can be awed and humbled by these gentle giants.
1. Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
Located in Humboldt County, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park has some of the oldest redwoods in the country. This park is home to herds of Roosevelt Elk and is perhaps the most famous redwood park of them all. This is due to its main attraction, Fern Canyon, which was featured in the movie “Jurassic Park.” A World Heritage site, Prairie Creek is one of the best state parks in California, is accessible via the city of Eureka, and has several campgrounds for overnight stays.
2. Redwood National Park
The home of the tallest tree in the world, Redwood National and State Park‘s trees make up 45 percent of California’s coastal redwoods. Established in 1968, less than an hour north of Eureka, Redwood Park is one part of the Redwood National and State Parks, alongside the Jedediah, Prairie Creek, and Del Norte Coast Parks.
When combined, Redwood Park contributes towards a protected area of redwood trees over 200 miles long. Although you are unlikely to spot the tallest tree itself, Hyperion, as its location is kept secret for protection reasons, this park is home to many fun hiking and biking trails.
3. Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
Containing seven percent of the globe’s redwood trees, Jedediah Smith Redwood Park aims to provide a glimpse into what a Jurassic world of redwoods would have looked like. This is just one part of the Redwood National State and Park system. Jedediah is located in Crescent City and is perhaps the most coastally linked redwood park in California. This park is accessible through Highway 199 and offers over twenty miles of hiking trails, an overnight campground, and snorkeling opportunities in the Smith River.
4. Big Basin Redwood State Park
The oldest state park in California, Big Basin is the home of 18,000 acres of lush redwood forest. Found in the Santa Cruz Mountains, many of this park’s redwoods are over 50 feet tall and thousands of years old. Redwoods aren’t the only attraction – Big Basin has multiple hiking trails, including the Redwood Loop, and is the home to several scenic waterfalls, such as Sempervirens Falls. The park is accessible via Boulder Creek town and San Jose.
5. Muir Woods National Monument
Located north of the Golden Gate Bridge, Muir Woods National Monument is a national park in the San Francisco Bay area of California. Over 500 acres large, it is in fact the most visited redwood park in California, with over six thousand visitors per day at peak times.
In addition to great hiking trails, Muir Woods offers trails for biking and is home to a range of wildlife, from sea otters to deer. Muir Woods National Monument is found in southwestern Larin County and is accessible via traveling north through San Francisco.
6. Humboldt Redwoods State Park
Humboldt State Park is the biggest redwood park in California and is home to some of the oldest redwoods in the world. Holding the title of California’s third largest state park, Humboldt is over 50 thousand acres large. Unlike many other redwood parks, Humboldt is based around viewing the redwoods all from the space of your own car, via the 32-mile ‘Avenue of the Giants’ trail. Other attractions of the park include the Dyerville Giant, a fallen redwood that was originally over 300 feet tall.
Learn more about beautiful, bee-friendly California native plants you might find on your hike i
7. Reinhardt Redwoods Regional Park
Located in downtown Oakland, the Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park is a hidden gem of redwood trees. Originally created as a reforestation area for previously logged trees, the park now spans 150 feet. A popular destination for joggers and hikers, Reinhardt Redwood’s most popular trail is the French Trail Loop, which is a great way to take in the majestic redwood trees without getting lost. This park is situated in the Oakland Hills and is accessible via several parking spots in the East Bay area.
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