Redwoods With Kids! 10 Fun Ideas For Redwood National Park

Summer is our favorite time of year for road trips. Being in the west, there are so many great national parks to visit. We'll even drive down to Redwood National Park in California to visit the Redwoods with kids!

Since we live in Washington state, places like Canada, Idaho, and Oregon are all within driving distance from our home. We even like to drive down to California to visit with friends and family. Our recent trip to California exploring San Diego kids activities took us through Redwood National Park. It was a nice experience visiting the Redwoods with kids, and a good chance for all of us to reconnect with each other and with nature.

This post was updated on June 28, 2021.

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My son standing next to a redwood tree in the Trees of Mystery (July 2017)

Redwood National Park history

The United States has a fairly extensive national park system, with the first national park established in 1872 by President Ulysses S. Grant. There are now over 400 national parks (major and minor parks, along with affiliated attractions) across the country and in its surrounding territories.

There are several amazing national parks in the West, including Redwood National Park in California, Crater Lake in Oregon, and Mount Rainier in Washington. What I love about the national parks is that they give you a glimpse of the country's history and natural wonder!

Redwood National Park was established in 1968 and covers an area of approximately 217 square miles along the coast of northern California. The park is visited by over 500,000 visitors a year. It houses some of the United States' tallest and oldest trees, the redwood trees.

These trees can be up to several thousand years old, and can span 30 feet or more in diameter. It truly is amazing to see!

A child at Redwood National Park, experiencing the Redwoods with kids
Hiking in the Redwood forest (July 2017)

Visiting the Redwoods with kids

The best time of year for visiting the Redwoods with kids is in the summer months. This is the driest time of the year, and also the warmest. But because of the trees, hiking at Redwood National Park won't ever get too hot.

For camping accommodations at the park, there are four developed campsites managed by California State Parks. You can reserve a campsite ahead of time through their website.

Alternatively, you can find private lodging and accommodations through the Humboldt County website for your visit to the Redwoods with kids. Or you can try finding car camping sites on the Hipcamp app, which allows campers to rent camp sites through individual property owners.

The nearest town to Redwood National Park is Orick, but facilities there are somewhat limited. Klamath, to the north, also has some options in terms of lodgings, restaurants, tours, and RV parks. Even further north is Crescent City, which is a much larger city. You'll find major grocery stores here.

A woman stands inside the base of a redwood tree while visiting the Redwoods with kids
Standing in a tree in the Redwoods (July 2017)

Our favorite things to do at the Redwoods with kids

The best part about Redwood National Park is that it's so family-friendly. There are a number of easy hikes for little ones to do, as well as roadside attractions that will keep the kids engaged and excited about nature.

National Geographic has a Redwood National and state parks trail map that you can use for ideas on hikes to do with your kids. Remember to practice responsible travel as you're exploring Redwood National Park and adopt a "leave no trace" philosophy. That means carrying out everything you carry into the park, and avoiding damaging any plants or trees in the park.

If you're planning a trip to Redwood National Park in the near future, check out our picks for kid-friendly activities to do on your next trip to the Redwoods with kids.

Take a look at these other national parks you can visit with your kids in the US.

Checking out the Big Tree at Redwood National Park (July 2017)

1. Explore the Redwoods with kids at the Trees of Mystery

Our first stop during our visit to Redwood National Park was the Trees of Mystery. It's located just north of the town of Klamath. Though technically not part of the national park, this roadside attraction has a number of redwood trees that you can look at and explore.

First opened in 1946, it features a trail through old-growth forests, a gondola ride along the tree canopies (called the Sky Trail), and an outdoor collection of redwood carvings. There is also a museum dedicated to indigenous culture located adjacent to the gift shop, and a forest-themed restaurant located across the street from the Trees of Mystery. My favorite part of the attraction, though, was the gigantic Paul Bunyan statue, accompanied by his blue ox, Babe, that greets visitors near the entrance to the trail. It certainly is worth a visit!

Paul Bunyan waves hello at the Trees of Mystery (July 2017)

2. Learn about Native American history

Part of our goal as a worldschooling family is to dive deeper into the destinations we visit. The lands that encompass much of the Redwood forest are the ancestral lands of the Yurok tribe. This Native American tribe is largest tribes, with over 5,000 enrolled members.

Families can learn about the Native American history of the Redwoods by visiting the Yurok Country Visitor Center. The visitors center is open Wednesdays to Saturdays, from 10am to 4pm. There are exhibits about the language of the Yurok tribe, and their cultural practices.

3. Experience a Redwood National Park icon, the Tour-Thru Tree

Travelers have been visiting the redwood forests long before the national park was established. One of the relics of tourism in this area are the drive through trees - redwood trees that have been cut to allow cars to drive through.

The environmentalist in me cringes at the thought of damaging such a natural wonder. However, the traveler in me was curious about what it would actually be like to drive through a tree. Fortunately, there are a few trees in the area that you can do this. We chose the Tour-Thru Tree near Klamath. For just $5, you can drive your car through the tree, and even pose for a picture!

Driving through the Tour-Thru Tree (July 2017)

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4. Participate in the Junior Ranger program while at the Redwoods with kids

The National Park Service has a great Junior Ranger program to get kids engaged in their visits to the national parks. And the Junior Ranger program at Redwood National Park is no exception!

Kids can earn badges by doing activities, puzzles, and games, all geared at encouraging kids to learn more about the park. The activity books teach about the park's ecology, the animals that live in the forest, and especially about the trees that make up the forest.

The Junior Ranger programs are geared more towards kids who are elementary school age.

5. Drive the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway

Speaking of driving, there are several scenic drives around Redwood National Park, but our favorite was the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway. It's a winding road that runs through Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, in between the towns of Klamath and Orick.

The road is lined with redwoods and other trees found in the old-growth forests. It's accessible via Highway 101, as it serves as a scenic bypass for the highway. We enjoyed the slower pace of the drive, and the cooling shade that the big trees provided.

Standing in a tree along the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway (July 2017)

6. Visit the Big Tree at Redwood National Park

Along the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway is a turn-off leading vehicles to the Big Tree. With a circumference of about 68 feet, this is one of the largest trees in Redwood National Park. The tree is just off the road, so it's an easy walk along a path to visit the tree.

There is a boardwalk built partially around the tree, so you can get an up close and personal look at the Big Tree! This is one of our must-see sights when you're visiting Redwoods with kids.

7. Hike the Prairie Creek - Foothill Trail Loop

Just off the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway is the Prairie Creek Visitor Center. The visitor's center is a starting point for a 2.5 mile loop trail through Prairie Creek. The fully ADA accessible trail is fairly flat, so it's a relatively easy trail for families with young kids, strollers, or wheelchairs.

It shares part of the same trail as the Big Tree. So if you're already coming to visit the Big Tree, and you have time on your hands, you can tack on a hike too!

A child in front of the Big Tree at Redwood National Park, visiting the Redwoods with kids
Visiting the Big Tree (July 2017)

8. Read a book about the Redwoods

Visits to national parks don't always have to involve physical activity all the time. Your kids will undoubtedly need some rest and down time. During that time, why not read a book about the Redwoods with your kids?

Save the Redwoods, an organization dedicated to preserving the Redwoods of the California coast and the Sierra Nevada, offers a list of kid-friendly books about the Redwoods. The list includes books for various ages. Our favorites include The Tall Tree for toddlers, Hannah and the Talking Tree for younger elementary school kids, and Operation Redwoods for older elementary school kids.

9. Travel along the Avenue of the Giants

Another scenic drive, and actually about 80 miles south of Redwood National Park, is the Avenue of the Giants. This is a 31 mile north-south route that spans an old portion of Highway 101 within Humboldt Redwoods State Park.

There are a number of tourist attractions along this drive, include two drive through trees and a house built into the trunk of a tree. There are also some cafes and art galleries along this route that showcase art made from the redwoods.

Visiting roadside attractions along Avenue of the Giants (July 2017)

10. Hike Lady Bird Johnson Grove

Whenever we can, we like to incorporate physical activities into our travel plans. I loved our visit to Redwood National Park because that physical activity was just built in to each day's activities. There are plenty of kid-friendly hikes at Redwood National Park (and the park brochure gives you a lot of options!), but by far our favorite was the Lady Bird Johnson Grove trail.

Lady Bird Johnson Grove trail has so many trees to go into and explore. The trail was just the right length to keep our kids active without getting over tired. This trail is perfect for hiking in the Redwoods with kids, especially if you have really young ones.

Read up on more destinations to explore in the beautiful state of California.

Crossing the bridge to the Lady Bird Johnson Grove trail (July 2017)

An opportunity to connect with nature at Redwood National Park

We loved our time at Redwood National Park. These ancient trees gave us an opportunity to connect with nature, and connect with each other.

With the decrease in funding to the National Park system, and the threat of climate change, now is an important time to experience America's national parks. I would even go so far as to say it's your duty to experience these parks, especially Redwood National Park, before they're gone for good!

Have you had a chance to experience Redwood National Park? Share your favorite memories of the Redwoods with kids in the comments below.

Are you planning to visit Redwood National Park as part of a long term travel adventure? Get my family gap year guide, Hey Kids, Let’s Go Travel! for resources, advice, and actionable steps for planning your trip.

Redwoods With Kids! 10 Ideas For Visiting Redwood National Park | The Wandering Daughter

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