Say the “redwoods” and a lot of people think of it as one zone, in one part of the country, with dense and amazing forests. The reality of the “redwoods” is that they are made up of numerous smaller forest clusters stretching from south of San Francisco to the Oregon border just north and northwest of Crescent City.
While this means there are about 400 miles you could travel and stop to see forests in, it also means there are numerous access points for day, multi-day, or week long adventures.
Where To Go
- If you are visiting San Francisco or the bay area, you can easily access the Muir Woods National Monument or a variety of smaller groves near San Jose.
- If you want to visit the “Sequoia Region” which are in fact redwoods, just not as tall as the coastal versions, there are outcrops throughout the Sierra Nevada region on the border of Utah and Nevada stretching into Yosemite National Park, around Lake Tahoe, and other regions. The best airports here are Fresno, Mammoth Lakes, and Reno.
- Central coast redwoods offer easier access from the bay area and additional hidden treasures such as the Fort Bragg Glass Beach, Fort Ross, and much more.
- On our trip we decided to blend a road trip from Medford, Oregon into the North Coast Redwoods, which is home to the some oldest growth forests of redwoods. While medford was three hours from where we stayed at Emerald Forest in Trinidad; the drive was gorgeous. This region is home to many famous redwood sites including the Avenue of the Giants, Tall Tree Grove, Fern Canyon and much more. An alternative airport to Medford is McKinleyville, California.
Where To Stay
Since there are so many places to “See Redwoods/Sequoias” there are just as many different locations to stay and explore from. You can easily “rough it” in a traditional camping trip, kick it in a cabin, or RV your way through the state. Hotels are also an option, and many chains are available in each area. Your best option will be to check information on each regions visitor website to narrow down your options.
- Bay Area – San Francisco, San Jose
- Sequoia National Park, Yosemite National Park
- Central Coast
- North Coast
What To Do
Obviously these massive forests are the shining star, but each area offers a wide variety of activities for those that are new to outdoor exploration and outdoor enthusiasts. Personally, hiking, and “playing in the woods” are my top priorities. But each region offers some scenic drives, gentle hikes/walks, and overlooks for the perfect instagram post. Mostly, allow time to explore and have fun, don’t stick to a strict schedule, and be open to adjusting your plans. Plan on lots of rain and what you may need to do to deal with mud, colder weather, and road closures. Make sure you check on trail pass needs (like Tall Trees) and road conditions for “scenic drives”.
To access these regions, the best option will be to rent a car so you can drive to where you need to be. A standard vehicle should be good enough, but if you plan on driving any rough roads SUVs and/or 4-wheel drive vehicles would be a better idea. I suggest getting a smaller SUV unless you have a lot of people/luggage as many roads are narrow.
In addition to the trees, there are lovely beaches, open valleys, scenic towns, and much more to experience. Don’t be afraid to try something new, like fishing, and see what is available in different seasons. Some areas offer whale watching boat tours, historic homes, shopping, and much more for a fulfilling and enjoyable vacation.