The Best Time to Visit Redwood National Park

Redwood National Park houses the largest, oldest, and tallest coastal redwood trees, so impressive that author John Steinbeck once described standing among the trees as a “cathedral hush.” The park, practically guaranteed to make you say “wow,” may be one of the most impressive all-natural bucket-list destinations within the continental United States.

People are usually confused regarding the best time to visit redwood national park The majestic beauty of the redwoods at Redwood National Park is one you can’t match anywhere else in the world. The world goes quiet and calm as you walk amongst these giants. Like grand elders surrounding you and guiding you on a journey through time to explore the generations of these grand trees.

If you are lucky enough while you explore Redwood National Park you might even come across “Hyperion”, the tallest coastal redwood and the world’s tallest known living tree, last measured at 115m tall (379 ft). The exact location of the tree is kept a secret, but you might just come across this secret gem during your visit to the redwoods.

How to Get to Redwood National Park

You’ll need a car to access the beauty of the Redwood National Park. This will be one of the most scenic road trips of your life, so buckle up and enjoy the ride!

Getting from San Francisco to Redwood National Park

If you are coming from the San Francisco area, head straight up Highway 101 following along the California coastline. The drive will take you through scenic mountain landscapes, quaint little towns with delicious local food, and along coastal views of the pacific ocean.

If you have the time, take the scenic side route along the way through the Avenue of the Giants which features some of the great Sequoias (the tree cousin of the redwoods). Redwoods are the tallest trees in the world, as Sequoias don’t get as tall, but they end up getting extremely wide.

Local Tip: When driving through Arcata, if you are looking for one of the most delicious brunches you’ll ever have, check out Renata’s Creperie. As a previous local I can tell you it is a place you will not want to pass by! With nearly all locally sourced ingredients in their crepes and homemade whipped cream on their mocha’s, it melts in your mouth amazing!

Getting from Oregon to Redwood National Park

When coming down from Oregon to visit Redwood  National Park, find your way to Crescent City, then head South on Highway 101. Along the way you’ll see the giant Paul Bunyan and Blue Ox at the Trees of Mystery. This is a must-see for seeing truly unique redwood trees, but I’ll explain more about that later. After the Trees of Mystery, you’ll get to Klamath, where you can find the drive through a redwood tree. It’s a great photo opportunity!

Tip: If you want to grab lunch and fuel then Klamath is your last opportunity to do so.

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Best Time To Take Views (For Photography)

The best time to see redwood national park including some of the world’s most famous towering trees is in spring or fall. The weather is favorable and the park isn’t too crowded – plus you’ll be treated to an assortment of migrating birds also stopping by to enjoy the scenery. In spring, rhododendrons add an array of delightful blooms. Changing leaves add yet another dimension of color in autumn months.

Seasonal Factors

In summer; particularly July is the peak tourist season at Redwood National Park when the National Park Service reports that 75,000 visitors on average may take in the view. In a typical December when the weather is less favorable only 1/5 as many people visit if we compare. Peak travel season also means the roads into the park may be clogged with car traffic, so avoid the summer if you don’t enjoy the wait.

Not-so-Warm Weather

Any time of year, the temperature range is moderate at Redwood National Park, but just about any day could require a jacket and rain gear. High temperatures peak in the mid-60s from May through October, while daily highs average in the mid- to upper-50s during other months. The average lows hover around 40 degrees during winter, early spring and late fall. Expect chances of heavy rainfall in October through April. In summer, a mystical fog blankets the trees along with the coastal areas.

Extra Things to Consider Before You Visit

Dressing in layers, including an outer layer of rain gear, helps protect you from the elements no matter when you visit the park. Footwear that resists water and provides plenty of traction is a must, since trails can be damp or wet any time of year.

Some roads are prone to closures during winter months due to heavy rains, flooding or landslides. Temporary bridges are also removed along some trails during the winter in areas that frequently flood.

While the cold-weather months may make hiking a bit less comfortable, December, January, March and April also offer the opportunity to see grey whales migrating near the coastline.

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If you want to avoid the crowds and still have fairly good weather, Spring and Autumn are also great times for visiting Redwood National Park (May, Sept, Oct). As someone who lived here for over 5 years, I’d recommend wearing clothes you would normally wear in Autumn, no matter what month it is. And have a light rain jacket on hand.

Also, layers are your friend. You might be able to enjoy a t-shirt in the middle of the day, but mornings and late afternoon you’ll often need a flannel or a jumper.

What to See at Redwood National Park

When visiting Redwood National Park you’ll have the chance to walk amongst some of the tallest trees in the world. You’ll get to spend time in a temperate rainforest covered with many ferns and other flora. California is one of the most plant diverse places in the world, so take some time to have a look at the amazing diversity of plants while visiting!

Being a temperate rainforest also means it is much cooler and can be wet/foggy weather at any time. I’d, therefore, recommend to bring a light jacket and wear clothes suited for a cool day.

There is also a wide variety of wildlife you might see in the forest including elk, eagles, foxes, songbirds, skinks, bears and deer. On the coast, you might see seals, sea lions, and whales.

As a wildlife biologist who studied in this particular area, I can tell you there are an amazing amount of plants and animals you can see in this small area. Bring some binoculars if you can. You won’t be disappointed!

If you love photography, the scenery within Redwood National Park is unique and beautiful to capture. With landscapes of mist, mountains, and coastlines you’ll amaze family and friends when you share these snapshots. So don’t leave the camera in the car when going for a hike!

How Redwood National Park is Organized

Although Redwood National Park is one park it is often used to refer to ‘The Redwood National and State Parks’.

The Redwood National and State Parks comprises one national and three state parks, located along the coast of northern California:

  • Redwood National Park
  • Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park
  • Jedediah-Smith Redwoods State Park
  • Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
  • The combined Redwood National and State Parks contain 139,000 acres (560 km square).

Whether you have to pay a fee or not depends on where you go. A good updated map of Redwood National and State Parks will help you assess the different zones.

The National Park zones are free of charge to visit, but California State Parks collect a day-use fee for visitors. At present, it costs US$8 for a day pass to visit the above mentioned California State Parks.

Fee-Free Days:

  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day, January 21
  • National Park Week’s opening weekend in April
  • National Park Service’s birthday, August 25
  • National Public Lands Day, 4th Saturday in September
  • Veterans Day Weekend in November

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