best places to see redwoods in california 01

11 Best Places to See Redwoods in California

The best places to see Redwoods in California is typically in the northern coastal side of the state and in this post I’m going to show you 11 specific spots to find them in this region.

I’ve explored a bunch of places with Redwood trees in California over many years and while they pretty much all look the same no matter where you find them, there are several reasons why you’d want to check out them in the different areas I’ll list below:

  1. You have more flexibility to travel to more places that have them.
  2. Some of them are near major cities like San Francisco, offering you easier ways to reach them.
  3. A lot of the places where you can see these Redwood trees also offer you access to other diverse nature allowing you to see much more stuff than “just” these amazing trees.

Here are the 11 best places to see the Redwoods in California (now 12):

best places to see redwoods in california 01

  1. Pfeiffer State Park (Big Sur)
  2. Portola Redwoods State Park
  3. Muir Woods National Monument
  4. Samuel P Taylor State Park
  5. Navarro River Redwoods State Park
  6. Van Damme State Park
  7. Russian Gulch State Park
  8. Avenue of the Giants
  9. Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
  10. Redwoods National And State Park
  11. Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
  12. Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve

This list is organized to show the best spots to see the Redwoods starting from the southern area of California (Big Sur) and going all the way to the northern end of the state where Jedediah Smith State Park is located.

1) Pfeiffer State Park (Big Sur):

big sur redwoods california 05


Pfeiffer State Park is about 1 hour south of San Jose.

Why its one of the best places to see Redwoods in California:

For starters, Pfeiffer State Park has a lot of Redwoods to check out as a whole, and on top of that because it’s so large, there is much more to see than just Redwood trees there. There’s a lot of camping areas, hikes and amazing overlooks of the California Coast there.

But even better than all of that, this park is also located within the greater Big Sur area which has arguably the best views of the California Coast you’ll ever find including China Cove, Mcway Falls (one of the most beautiful beach waterfalls I’ve ever seen) and much more. If you just want to see Redwoods, then you’ll easily find them in Pfeiffer State Park.

2) Portola Redwoods State Park:

portola redwoods state park california near san jose 06


About 20 minutes from San Jose in La Honda county. Here’s a GPS to Portola Redwoods State Park.

Why it’s one of the best places to see Redwoods in California:

This is where you’ll find the closest Redwoods near San Jose and that’s really one of the main reasons why you’d want to come here. In addition to that, this park has a few (not many) trails to explore these trees from including the famous “Old Tree Trail” which is a pretty easy hike that’s under 1 mile long as well as camping areas.

3) Muir Woods National Monument (closest Redwoods near San Francisco):

muir woods redwoods near san francisco 04


20 minutes north of San Francisco.

Why it’s one of the best places to see Redwoods in California:

Muir Woods is a gigantic area and is very famous for having tons of Redwood trees, beautiful hiking trails, waterfalls and much more. But the main reason you’d want to check this place out is that it’s close to San Francisco and within the Muir Woods, you will also find overlook trails to take you to see the city in the distance.

There’s 3 trails I recommend you check out to see the best sights in Muir Woods (including Redwoods):

  1. Cascade Falls trail.
  2. Muir Woods Panoramic trail.
  3. Canopy View to Lost Creek trail.

4) Samuel P Taylor State Park (2nd closest Redwoods to San Francisco):

samuel p taylor state park redwoods california 07


40 minutes north west from San Francisco.

Why it’s one of the best places to see Redwoods in California:

Samuel P Taylor is basically another type of Muir Woods, but a little bit further away from it. It’s worth visiting this place for the exact same reasons you’d want to come to go to Muir Woods, but there are a few advantages to this place over Muir Woods (on top of having many Redwood trees):

  1. It’s less crowded than Muir Woods.
  2. It’s a great add on stop to include if you’re traveling through the Pacific Coast Highway.

5) Navarro River Redwoods State Park:

navarro river redwoods state park california 02


Navarro River Redwoods State Park is about 1 hour south of Fort Bragg.

Why it’s one of the best places to see Redwoods in California:

There are 100s of Redwood trees here. Just as well, you also have access to many hiking trails and on top of that (my favorite) is there is a beautiful scenic drive in this area which I personally did. It’s very peaceful and you can stop almost anywhere on that road to see Redwoods and find trailheads easily.

You will also in between a bunch of vineyards and the California coast here, so you have more to see after.

6) Van Damme State Park:

van damme state park redwoods california 08


Van Damme State Park is about 20 minutes south of Fort Bragg California.

Why it’s one of the best places to see Redwoods in California:

If you’re already traveling on the Pacific Coast Highway, Van Damme State Park is in my opinion an excellent place to stop at and one of the main reasons why is because it also has many Redwoods and is located right by the coast meaning you have many activities to do there which include hiking to see many different Redwoods in the park, and then on top of that seeing the coast and checking out the attractions there, which in this case include boating and kayaking.

7) Russian Gulch State Park:

russian gulch state park redwoods california 01


Russian Gulch State is only 10 minutes from Fort Bragg and 10 minutes north of Van Damme State Park (you can even see both parks in one day).

Why it’s one of the best places to see Redwoods in California:

Russian Gulch State Park is also a coastal and inland park, has many Redwood trees (found more inland) and is a top 5 spot for me personally when it comes to beautiful coastal spots in California. The trails there are stunning (waterfalls included).

Outside of that, you can also find sea caves, a gigantic bridge (where road 1 passes over) with a beach underneath it, camping, picnic spots and even a sinkhole called Devils Punchbowl.

The last reason I will recommend you go here is because the famous Glass Beach in California is only 10 minutes from it (in Fort Bragg).

8) Avenue of the Giants:

avenue of the giants redwoods california 04


It’s right by Humboldt State Park. Here’s a GPS to Avenue of the Giants.

Why it’s one of the best places to see Redwoods in California:

This is arguably the best place to drive through to see Redwoods. You’re looking at about a 30 mile scenic drive through this area. The good news is that this scenic drive is parallel to the 101, so if you’re already on it and passing through the Humboldt State Park area, I would strongly recommend taking the side drive through Avenue of the Giants.

9) Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park:

prairie creek redwoods state park california 03


It’s located about 30 minutes from the border of Oregon (Brookings is close to it).

Why it’s one of the best places to see Redwoods in California:

This is a very nostalgic spot for me because the very first time I visited the California Coast, this was one of the first Redwood areas I visited, and have revisited at least 5 times over the years. There is a lot to do here including:

  1. A tree walk where you can see Redwoods from an elevated area.
  2. Another incredible scenic drive with Redwoods everywhere (one of the best scenic drives in Northern California).
  3. Incredibly beautiful and peaceful trails.
  4. There’s elk in the area.
  5. Fern Canyon is close by.

10) Redwoods National And State Parks:

redwoods national and state parks california 02


Literally a 1 minute drive from Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. This national park area is blended together with it and in my opinion is one of the best places to visit in California and I also think it’s one of the best national parks on the west coast as well!

Why it’s one of the best places to see Redwoods in California:

While visiting Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, I also visited parts of Redwoods National Park too (there’s countless Redwood trees here) and pretty much every benefit I listed for Prairie Creek, you can apply here too.

I would also add that there are attractions in the area where you can drive underneath a giant Redwood tree with your car (I found 2 of them). There are also access hikes to the coast here and to my knowledge, it’s the only area on the entire coast where the Redwoods are so close to the Pacific ocean.

11) Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park:

jedediah smith redwoods state park california 03


Very close to the Crescent City and the Oregon border. Here’s a GPS to Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.

Why it’s one of the best places to see Redwoods in California:

If you’re staying in Crescent City, planning to head into the Oregon Coast or even the Eastern Oregon area (from California), then this is a perfect stop to check out. I’ve been through the scenic drive of this area and that alone is worth making the trip to this Redwoods location.

I’ll be honest, the scenery and trees here are pretty much identical to what I saw in Prairie Creek and the Redwoods National Park, but that’s by no means a bad thing, considering how beautiful those places are, you can go wrong here. And just as well, you also have many hikes, waterfalls and incredible sights across the board to check out there too.

12) Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve:

best places to see redwoods in california armstrong nature


Northwest of Santa Rosa California (30 minute drive).

Why it’s one of the best places to see Redwoods in California:

I was recently suggested this area and I’m really surprised that I didn’t find it before. The Armstrong Redwoods area has a bunch of these trees, many trails and great tourist areas to take photos of them from. Because it’s so close to Santa Rosa, it’s an easy place to visit and get some great Redwood exploration experiences there. There is a welcome center but to enter the area, you will need to pay $10 per car.

Here’s a map of the Redwoods in California from the above locations:

giant redwood forest california map 09

I also found another official Redwoods map here which lists the same type of areas, but also offers more places to see Redwoods for your reference.

Other questions about Redwoods:

What is the best place to see the big Redwoods?

One of the best places to see big Redwoods is in Muir Woods which is very close to San Francisco.

What is the best time of year to see the Redwoods in California?

I recommend winter season as the best time of year to see Redwoods in California. There is hardly any snow in the areas, less crowds and the nature is far more green during this time.

Where can I drive through giant Redwoods?

There are at least 4 places to drive through to see giant Redwoods and it includes Jedediah Smith Park, Prairie Creek State Park, Navarro River Park and the top choice is Avenue of the Giants.

What is the closest big city to the Redwoods?

There’s actually 2 big cities close to the Redwoods. One is San Francisco for which Muir Woods is closest and the second is Portola Redwoods which is very close to San Jose.

What’s next? More giant tree parks (not just Redwoods) to check out:

  1. Sequoia National Park is another place I would recommend you see as it also has gigantic trees, but they are entirely different looking than Redwoods, but equally (or even more so) impressive.
  2. I also recommend checking out my Redwoods vs Sequoia post for details on their differences, similarities and more.
  3. And finally, there is also a Redwoods in Oregon post I created that shows you a few areas which have them too.

Finishing up, I want to note that there’s actually many more places to see Redwoods in California, but the above 11 options are arguably the best because of how easy they are to access and the fact that it offers not just access to many Redwood trees there, but it’s also close to major cities and/or gives you access to many other activities aside from just checking them out.

If you have any suggestions on which additional places are worth adding to the above list to see Redwoods, I’d love to know about it!

Similar Posts


  1. Great article young man. I lived in Trinidad CA for two years back in the early 70’s when I went to Humboldt State. It’s 10 miles north of Arcadia where the school is. It’s a small fishing town, or used to be when salmon were still plentiful. I want my ashes to be scattered in Trinidad Harbor with the sea otters. God’s country 💖

    1. I hope you have many more years and decades of enjoying life Gary and seeing these beautiful places as well as new ones!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *