It is hard to believe that our six-month road trip has looped back around to California, but here we are at Redwood National Park (RNP). Our time at this park was brief, but we got an excellent feel for the lush forest, gentle yet giant redwood groves, and the dramatic Pacific coastline.
Redwood National Park is intermingled with several California state parks. If you plan on visiting RNP, note that most campgrounds are located in the adjacent state parks and cost significantly more than the average NPS-run campground at approximately $35/night. There is, however, a free alternative, which is obtaining permits for backcountry camping, as we did, which not only saves some money, it affords a more intimate experience within the parks boundaries.
If it is coastal camping you're looking for, we recommend spending a night at Flint Ridge campground. Lucky for us, this campground is set upon a sea cliff, and while you can't hear the waves crashing at night, you can hike down the steep trail and wander along the sprawling beach for hours in the company of other campers, surfers and sea birds. Along a similar trail you can visit Radar Station B-71, an old World War II radar station disguised as a farm. Now defunct, this "farm" housed radar equipment and small arsenal and was one of 22 radar stations on the Pacific Coast.
A definite must-see at RNP is the Tall Trees Grove, home to the tallest trees in the world rising upwards of 350 feet in height. The world's tallest tree, Hyperion, lives in this grove, although its exact location is undisclosed to the public. To visit the Tall Trees Grove, visitors must obtain a free permit at the Hiouchi Information Center in the near the park's northern boundary. I strongly recommend visiting the Tall Trees Grove, here's why:
Tucked away from Highway 101 at the near-end of a winding dirt road, this grove offers a truly peaceful and quiet getaway. The three and a half mile loop trail weaves around a serene redwoods grove populated by trees so tall you cannot see the top of them! We extended our time in this tranquil space by camping at 44 Camp, along the intersecting Redwood Creed trail. Since we were staying the night, we had opportunities to see the trees at several different times of day. The best time to wander among these gentle giants is an hour or so before sunset. As the sun hangs low in the western sky, its brilliant rays reach through the towering trees and gently caress the forest floor creating a palatable glow.
Wandering here is truly humbling. These trees rise regally above the earth patiently bestowing their wisdom on those who are willing to listen. On a personal note, the combination of the sun's twilight warmth, the slight
In addition to the Tall Trees Grove, I would also recommend driving the Newton B. Dury Scenic Parkway as an alternative route to Highway 101. It is beautiful and offers many opportunities to stop, wander, picnic and take it all in.
While our visit to Redwoods may have been brief, its impression persists. This is definitely one park we will come back to.