Things to Do
1. Avenue of the Giants
Located in Humboldt County about 4 hours north of San Francisco along Highway 101, are the ancient, giant redwoods. In California, there are multiple chains of redwood parks and Avenue of the Giant located in Humboldt County Redwood State Park, in my opinion is the best.
Avenue of the Giants is actually a highway …….. Hwy 254 that parallels Hwy 101 but goes around the giant redwoods producing one of the most scenic drives that you will ever experience.
The highway is 31 miles long and runs from the city of Rio Dell from the north to Garberville to the south. The two main entries are at Rio Dell and Garberville. There are also multiple entries from Hwy 101 between the two cities.
Also, there are Avenue of the Giants Auto Tour brochures that you can pick up free at the north and south entrance. The brochures give brief descriptions of the park’s major landmarks so you will be informed during the drive that includes stops.
Avenue of the Giants (Highway 254) takes you through several small mountain communities and by the main entrance to Humboldt Redwood State Park.
There are lots of turn-offs where you can temporarily park your car at the side of the highway to take pictures. No long-term parking of course. There are designated parking areas throughout the 31 mile course. Also, you will see scattered along the highway, cement parking bumpers where you know it’s ok to park and leave your car.
The road condition of Avenue of the Giants (Hwy 254) is excellent. There are plenty of camp grounds and walking trails. You can view camping grounds at Campgrounds and RV Parks.
The walking trails that you should not miss are Founders Grove and Drury/Channey Grove. There are brochures you can pick up at both grove’s entrance.
Founders Grove has information signs posted throughout the half mile walking trail explaining various aspects of the trees or park. You’ll find lots of fallen trees with massive trucks. These are the biggest trees in the world dated from prehistoric time.
This is a park your kids will never forget as they explore this natural wonder. The park is fascinating and will keep you in awesome wonder and gratitude for the gift of these majestic trees God has given us.
Avenue of the Giants Going Through Small Mountain Redwood Town
2. Stout Grove Redwoods (Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park)
Located approximately 9 miles east of Crescent City is the beautiful Stout Grove. You will experience the magnificent scenery of Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park as you drive to Stout Grove. The drive into the park is absolutely awesome. The initial road is paved but then becomes a narrow, dirt road.
Drive slowly on the dirt/gravel path through the redwood forest as you experience tree after fascinating tree.
You may ask …. How fascinating can a stupid tree be?…… well, that’s what I said too, until I went there. Trust me … you will be in amazement. The road through the redwoods requires extreme caution. It’s a two lane road the size of one lane. Sometimes, the lane is just wide enough to pass through a row of trees.
With that said, the ride through the redwoods is just as fascinating as actually getting to Stout Grove. The road is very dusty so don’t use your new BMW for this trip. Car rentals are perfect or your family 6 year old minivan or Suburban.
The dirt road section of the drives takes about 20 minutes but you will be fascinated as the road curves and bends around magnificent redwoods with plenty of pull-outs to temporarily park and take pictures or video. Also, there is usually enough room for you to pull to the side and let the other car pass when the road is extra narrow with an on-coming car.
The road ends at the parking lot, which is not that big, so like I always say ….. get there early. I arrived Saturday at 11 am and the lot was full. However, when the lot is full, continue to drive away from the main parking area and park safely along the side of the road or in designated parking areas. You’ll know where to park because you will see other parked cars.
Once you arrive at Stout Grove, there are walking trails throughout this fascinating tree forest. Adults and kids will love this place. It feels like Jurassic Park.
Remember to stay on the walking trails and in groups. The area has bears and mountain lions along with other wild creatures so walking alone is not a good idea. Usually, this is not a problem since there will be other tourists in front and behind you. However, if you arrive in the early hours of the morning alone or you’re the last to leave ….. exercise extreme caution and don’t hike alone.
With that said, of all the many redwood parks to visit in California, Stout Grove is my second favorite. Actually, the walking / hiking trails and the giant trees make it my favorite but Stout Grove gets the #2 ranking because of the rough, narrow dirt road. Avenue of the Giants comes in #1 because of its excellent road condition throughout the park.
Bring a hat, sunscreen and mosquito repellent. I forgot all that stuff and had more than a few mosquito bites the next day with a little sunburn.
Click Stout Grove to Google Map and Direction
Walking Trail in Stout Grove, Redwood Park
3. Prairie Creek Redwood State Park
Located 50 miles north of Eureka, this redwood state park can be easily access from Hwy 101 but the real treat is taking the scenic Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway drive that runs through the heart of Prairie Creek Redwood State Park.
If you’re traveling on Hwy 101 with little time to stop but you still want to see the redwoods from the car, then take the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway exit from either the north or south end of the park. The exit sign will be clearly marked from Hwy 101.
The drive is extraordinary and you don’t have to stop. Just take in the natural beauty of the redwoods for 10 miles as an alternative to Hwy 101.
If walking trails in the lush redwoods is what you’re looking for, then exit at the Prairie Creek Visitor Center or nearby Prairie Creek Trail. You’ll see cars parked to the side off the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway. The trail is an easy walk through the redwood forest for everyone in the family to enjoy and the beauty is stunning.
Learn more about the Drives at Scenic Drive
Information on hiking/walking trails are at Hiking Trails
Camping information at Camping Info
More Info on Directions at Finding Redwood Parks
Click Prairie Creek Redwood State Park to Google Map and Direction
Prairie Creek Redwood Park
4. Newton Drury Scenic Parkway – Drive Through Redwoods
The fastest way to experience the redwoods park without ever getting out of your car is to drive on the beautiful Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway. You’ll see the lush tree forest with a few places to pull off the road for walking trails and to take pictures.
Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway begins 6 miles north of Orick (GOING NORTH – you’ll see the signs from Hwy 101). Exit Hwy 101 onto Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway. It’s a 10 mile route that parallels Hwy 101 and takes you through the redwood forest.
Traveling south, Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway begins 4 miles south of Klamath. Again, you’ll see the exit signs to the scenic parkway from Hwy 101.
It’s a fast way to see the redwoods without stopping. However there are several access stops where you can park and explore Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park via the walking trails.
More information about this Scenic Drive-through can be found at Scenic Drive
Click Newton Drury Scenic Drive to Google Map and Direction
Coastal Redwoods – Newton Drury Scenic Parkway
5. Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park
Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park is located off Highway 199 and about 9 miles east of Crescent City and known for it’s huge, ancient trees. The park was established in 1929 but the names comes from Jedediah Strong Smith who was the first white man to explore the Northern California interior.
Today the park offers camping, fishing, watersports such as kayaking and snorkeling. Many kayak tours originate at this park to kayak through the Smith River.
This is a great park to camp and picnic but in my opinion not the best place to experience the redwoods. Sure, there are lots of redwoods but you will have to hunt for parking space among lots of campers and locals who use the park for picnics and camping.
If you came here to see giant redwoods and not to camp, fish or boat then you will feel out-of-place. With that said, I experience a beautiful lake next to the entry parking area and lots of friendly people but couldn’t find a well-defined trail to see the redwoods. However, the park does have hiking trails. You can learn more about trails and access at Hiking Trail
In my opinion, this park is more for the experienced camper, water-sport enthusiast and locals.
The average tourist who just wants to see the giant redwoods should go to Stout Grove 20 minutes away which is also part of the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. Stout Grove is design specifically for viewing giant redwoods with well-defined walking trails.
Click Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park to Google Map and Direction
Jedediah Smith State Park