Known as Redwood NSP by the National Park Service, the entire complex stretches roughly 50 miles from near the Oregon border to south of Orick. The individual parks border and intersect one another to such an extent that they have come to be managed as if they were one entity, although different rules apply in the national and state-run sections. Truly one of the world’s premier natural destinations, these parks provide a wide range of recreational opportunities varying from such rugged outdoor activities as hiking, kayaking, fishing, camping and Class V white-water rafting, to more sedate pursuits including nature photography, peaceful strolls and awe-struck quiet contemplation. A long list of wildlife calls these parks home. In addition to redwoods there are quite a few other trees found in the parks and a variety of ecosystems, with areas of seacoast, river and prairie as well as densely forested zones. The rivers and streams are among the most pristine in the United States.
Redwood National Park
The tallest tree known to currently exist in the world was discovered here in 2006. Named “Hyperion,” it is a coastal redwood that stands over 379 ft. in height, making it about 75 ft. taller than the entire Statue of Liberty with its pedestal. Scientists estimate that Hyperion is about 700 or 800 years old, but coastal redwoods can live to an astounding age of 2000 or more. The tree’s location has been kept secret to protect it from souvenir hunters. Camping in the park is permitted, but you’ll have to hike to reach the designated camping areas, which are located in the backcountry. Stays are limited to five consecutive nights, and you’ll need a permit. You will need to pack your water in with you, or purify or filter the water that you find, and you’re required to carry all your trash out with you.
Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
This jewel of a state park protects many acres of old-growth coastal redwoods along with the Smith River, the last major free-flowing river in California. Most of the park is watershed for this untamed river and Mill Creek, a major tributary. There are 20 miles of hiking and nature trails that are excellent for exploring, along with many places to access the river for kayaking, swimming or fishing. King salmon and steelhead trout fishing are excellent in the fall and winter. Driving along the gravel Howland Hill Road or strolling in Stout Grove, with some of the most intense old-growth redwood habitat in the world, is a never-to-be-forgotten experience. Scenes for the 1983 Star Wars film “Return of the Jedi” were filmed in this grove. There are also splendid campgrounds available for those who would like to spend the night. Make sure you stop in at the Visitor Center; it has many exhibits which will help enhance your experience of the park. The park and its campgrounds are open all year long.
Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park
With 8 miles of wild, rugged coastline and acres upon acres of old-growth redwoods, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park is a wonderful place to spend the day. Tall trees tower above, allowing thin rays of light to shine through. Adjacent to the Pacific Ocean, there is a mountain range that runs north to south. The rocky coast is only accessible by Damnation Trail and Footsteps Rock Trail. Once down there, you will be able to see the cliffs from a new, awe-inspiring perspective. Wilson Beach or False Klamath Cove is a half-mile sandy beach that is great for strolling at low tide. Throughout the park there are miles of biking, hiking and nature trails along with guided tours.
Tolowa Dunes State Park and Lake Earl Wildlife Area
To find some of the finest wetland habitats on California’s northern coast, head to Tolowa Dunes State Park. Stroll along beaches, river banks, open and vegetated sand dunes, wildflower-filled meadows, tree-coated ridges and wetlands full of life. Two very important parts of the park are the Lake Earl Wildlife Area and the Lake Earl Coastal Lagoon. Located on the Pacific Flyway, you will be able to spot hundreds of species of birds including peregrine falcons, migrating ducks, geese, and swans that gather by the thousands. There is excellent fishing for cutthroat trout and starry flounder at Lakes Earl and Tolowa. You can pitch a tent at one of the two campgrounds, which include a ride-in horse camp and walk-in sites.
Where: open year-round, 2 miles north of Crescent City off Hwy 101 on Northcrest Dr. and then onto Old Mill Rd., or further down Northcrest Dr. which becomes Lake Earl Dr. Take Lower Lake Rd. to Kellogg or Pala Rd.
More Info: 707-465-7335 | Parks.CA.gov
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