Going to explore the Redwoods in Northern California?
Here’s a 3-day itinerary guide for ya.
This is what my itinerary looked like:
Drive to campgrounds
Avenue of Giants
Set up camp
What you should do before packing:
Location and Weather:
Always check the destination weather before you go camping. Knowing the weather will help you pack more efficiently. Is it going to be in the 80’s (Fahrenheit?) Then pack shorts and light airy clothes. Is it going to be in the 50’s (Fahrenheit?) Then throw on some hiking pants, a knitted sweater, and a windbreaker. Chance of rain? Pack a Foldable Raincoat or a collapsible umbrella.
Pack the night before!
Here is a picture everything I packed for camping/roadtrip:
(Left to right starting at the top: visor, knitted cap, toiletry bag, knitted sweater, blanket, travel towel, backpack, purse, pepper spray, reusable straw, mints, On Guard, microfiber wipe, eyeglasses, strap, headphones, lip balm, phone cord, watch, peppermint, tote, tea, romper, 2 tank tops, sweater, short, active bottoms, leggings, socks, sandals, shoes, journal, pencil, raincoat, packing cube, bathing suit, water bottle, knitting project, kindle, charger, battery pack, Carabiner clip, laundry bag.)
(Not pictured: Sleeping bag, bluetooth headphones, and travel mug)
This are the places that I explored while I was camping in the Redwoods. Pick 2 or more to do each day.
One of the first things you think about after hearing about the Redwoods is the Avenue of Giants. “This world-famous scenic drive is a 31-mile bypass on US 101, in Northern California.” Hike, drive, or have a picnic in the cool hush of the redwood forest. If you have time take the Auto Tour and find all the secret groves.
Grizzly Creek has an awesome river hike. Right across from the park’s entrance is a pathway to a beautiful river bank. You can walk along the river, skip rocks, fish, and swim.
If you cross the bridge, it will lead you up a mountain. You’ll have to scale up the side of the hill for a few feet over dead and damp leaves until you get to a footpath. Even then you’ll have to make your own path during this hike. Up fallen trees, through plants and vegetations, over rocks and boulders. But it is worth the exploration!
Words of warning though, It is not a beginner hike, there are no paved paths. If you wander too far from the bridge you may end up having to walk across the river, from one bank to the other. Although the stream is shallow, the rocks in the river bed (from all the rock skipping) are slippery and are not meant to be walked on by barefeet. I’d advise that you bring your river shoes.
Another reason to go to the Redwoods is the Forest Moon of Endor from the Star Wars Saga.
“Throughout galactic history, offworld raiders occasionally came to Endor to hunt the native Ewok population to make Ewok Jerky, which was a popular snack across the Outer Rim.” Source. Find the rest of the Star Wars filming locations here.
If you are not a Star Wars fan you still should not miss this leisure hike where you’ll be surrounded by numerous Redwoods. Walk into this quiet sanctuary away from all the noise and people and experience the beauty this world has to offer in the form of Giant 20 million+ years Sierras. After roaming down the paths, enter into the cathedral-like grove. Rest yourself on the bench and take in a breath of oxygen that these massive evergreens have been producing for over a millennia.
Fun fact: Redwoods burn from the inside out so there are several hollowed out trees that you can enter into and explore.
In Humboldt County, you will find a quaint town by the name of Ferndale. In this 1,300 populated town you will find dozens of well-preserved Victorian storefronts and homes. Visit the Chapman’s Bookery & More bookstore, browse the candy selection at Golden Gait Mercantile, have lunch at Firemens Park, or even explore the public restrooms; yes they are still well preserved as well.
This town is also known as the gateway to California’s Lost Coast but you may know it as the town where Outbreak was filmed. Of course by saying that I’m assuming that we are the same. Despite the size and age of this Northern California town it still has great sights to see and explore. Do drop by if you have the chance.
If you do nothing else on this list go to Fern Canyon. Fern Canyon is a ravine that runs through the coastal bluffs. With it’s 45 feet of wall to wall greenery. From moss covered walls to an abundance of ferns this canyon has it all.
The trailhead starts on a paved path and leads you into the canyon. From there you’ll walk over temporary plank bridges to cross the creek on several different occasions, climb over a handful of fallen trees, and run your hands over the moss covered walls while chewing on Redwood Sorrels.
This hike is great for all ages but the deeper you trek into the gully the more treacherous it gets. Soon the planks start becoming less and less until they are gone, the banks on either side become narrower and shorter, and all types of fallen vegetation will block your path. It’s a great second part of the hike if you want to challenge yourself. The only advice I give is to bring your river shoes. If you go the extra mile there’s no guarantee your shoes won’t get soaked.
“Steven Spielberg describes Fern Canyon as, “an unforgettable natural wonder”, that he chose as a location for Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World.”
This canyon was formed as a result of hydraulic mining during the gold rush in the Gold Bluffs area; Hydraulic mining involves washing away the topsoil with high pressure water cannons.
Coastal Town Suggestions
If you are driving to the Redwoods from the southern part of California or you want to end your trip driving along Highway 1 / the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) then check out these spots:
When it comes to Carmel it’s not a question of “what is there to do?” It’s a question of “will I have time to do it all?”
“Carmel-by-the-Sea has some of the world’s finest scenery, historic sites, art galleries, restaurants, and boutique shops. On foot, by car, or both, there’s no lack of things to do.” Source
Go on a scenic stroll by Carmel Beach, immerse yourself in the culture and arts, or just take a walk through the fairy-tale like courtyards and secret passageways. Start creating your itinerary today!
Even if you don’t get a chance to visit Carmel there are quite a few places to pull off the highway to enjoy the view while driving along the Highway.
From beach parks to lighthouses, Big Sur is your favorite coastal town. Stretching 90-mile-long from San Simeon, California all the way down to Carmel-by-the-Sea there are no limitations of things to do in Big Sur. Hike at Limekiln State Park, visit Bixby Bridge, camp at Julia Pfeiffer Burns, explore The Henry Miller Library, or tour any one of the 5 beaches Big Sur has to offer.
If you don’t have much time but still want to visit a popular location, I’d suggest stopping by Nepenthe. It’s a great stop if you want to rest and stretch your legs. At this stop you will find souvenir shops, restaurants, restrooms, and an amazing view of the coast.
Two words, Elephant Seals. Just when you think you’ve seen all this highway has to offer, surprise! The Piedras Blancas Elephant Seal Rookery appears.
“About 24,000 elephant seals visit each year. From the baby elephant seal to the 5,000-pound adult male. The name elephant seal comes from the size of the male nose, which resembles an elephant’s trunk.“ Source
If you decide to explore the area more make sure you make your way to Hearst Castle and be rewarded with Zebras. The owner of Hearst Castle, “William Randolph Hearst, owned the largest private zoo in the world” You can also experience the Zebra’s grazing while driving along Highway 1.
Dubbed the Gateway to Big Sur, San Simeon does not disappoint.
Well there you have it,
My Guide to the Redwoods, the surrounds areas, and a few coastal stops. Check back in to read my camping journal about my first camping experience and read my Camping Essentials post to know what you need on your next camping trip..
Thanks for reading! Tell a friend if you learned something new, felt inspired, or just enjoyed reading my story. Exploration posts come out every other Friday. In the meantime, check out my upcoming destinations, join the journey by subscribing to our newsletter, and support OMK by purchasing an item through the affiliate amazon links or making a donation below. Until next time!
– Olguine Brutus
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