We spent 4 days of spring break exploring Redwood National Park in northern California! We left on Friday and drove 10 hours to Crescent City, California and returned the following Wednesday. We stayed in a VRBO apartment on the same block as the Redwood National Park Headquarters. We were surprised by the large homeless population in Crescent City, but other than that it wasn’t very busy at all. I would imagine Crescent City would be a lot busier during the summer. Entry to Redwood National/State parks is free!
Day 1: The first Saturday of every month October-May they close the 10 mile Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway to motorized traffic. Bikers (including e-bikes), rollerbladers, walkers, skateboarders, etc. can take advantage of this gorgeous road without having to worry about traffic! Our kids were able to pedal bike 7.5 miles each direction through the beautiful trees! We pulled over at a couple spots for quick little hikes and for lunch. One thing to note though: it is uphill from south to north/downhill north to south. The very north part of the road is a 6% grade. There was plenty of parking along the side of the road to unload bikes for the road.
Day 2: In the morning we visited Battery Point Lighthouse. This area is only accessible during low tide. There was an option of a $5 tour of the inside of the lighthouse but we just looked around outside and checked out the tide pools around the base of the lighthouse.
In the afternoon, we drove on Howland Hill Road and hiked around Stout Grove (about 1 mile, basically flat) and Grove of the Titans (about 3 miles, some elevation change. This one just recently officially opened so it wasn’t on the park maps yet). Grove of the Titans was probably my favorite thing of the entire trip. It felt like we were in the movie Avatar with the ENORMOUS trees we were walking around. They recently added steel boardwalks around the last bit of the trail to help protect the forest and the entire hike was just magical. Parking was somewhat limited along Howland Hill Road and the road itself is only 1.5 car lengths wide so you need to pull over when two cars pass each other. The trees were so impressive even just driving the road!
Day 3: We drove south to Fern Canyon. No permit is needed during the winter but a free permit is required during the summer so they can limit visitors. There is a $12 cash only entry fee, but if you have a National Park Pass, that is accepted as well. Fern Canyon has huge fern-lined walls on either side of the creek. It had rained quite a bit the night before we were there (and continued to rain while we hiked) so the water was running pretty strong. Wearing knee-high muck boots were the only way we were able to stay dry. In the summer the creek bed is much drier and they add little foot bridges to the hike. You can either hike back along the rim of the canyon or go back down the way you came! Part of Jurassic Park was filmed in Fern Canyon! There is a creek you have to cross with your car to get to the trail head. We decided not to cross it with our van since the water was up to our knees the day we visited so we parked and walked an extra mile along a dirt road to reach the trail head. Bigger trucks were able to make it across and I’m guessing on a drier day our car would have made it too!
Day 4: Endert’s Beach and Crescent Beach: Endert’s beach is about a 1/2 mile wide downhill path to the beach. The beach was gorgeous and we even saw a sea otter! In the afternoon while Goldie napped, Seth walked down to Crescent beach with the kids to look for sand dollars. Crescent Beach is a long, wide, and sandy. It looks like a wonderful place to hang out in the summer!
Day 5: (Drive home day) We drove up Highway 101 and stopped at the Oregon Dunes Day Use Area and hiked a mile on sand out to the beach and back. In retrospect we could have just stayed in the sandy area near the car and let the kids play on the sandy dunes. The beach was pretty, but similar to the other beaches that we had driven by all day.
All in all it was a wonderful trip! I’m sure there are many more hikes we could have done, but we got a really good overview of the park. April was an awesome time to visit because it wasn’t crowded at all and parking/permits were never an issue. If you have a chance, I’d highly recommend that you spend some time in the Redwoods! I’d love to answer any other questions you have and always love hearing recommendations of where to go!