I have a lot to share with you in this Redwood vs Sequoia article and that’s because I’ve been to both parks. So whether you’re just hearing about these trees, planning a trip to check them out or just want to know which place is better than the other, all of that will be addressed here.
I happen to think both places are unbelievably beautiful and you can’t go wrong if you decide to skip one and explore the other. But obviously saying “see both places” is probably the most obvious advice you’ll ever hear on this and I want to give you all the information you need so if you have to only choose one spot, you’ll know you made the right choice and on that note:
If you only have 1 option (Sequoia vs Redwood), here’s how to choose correctly:
The answer relies on these 2 things:
1) How much time you have to see either or both spots (if you have a lot of time, you can potentially see both via a road trip and I would recommend you do that).
2) And if you can only see one park, that all depends on:
- Which region of California you start in.
- And which is the nearest Sequoia or Redwood parks are closest to that area determine where it’s best for you go.
- Let me give you a simple example:
If you wish to see the Redwood trees:
Do it if you’re visiting cities like San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland or Sacramento and doing a Pacific Northwest road trip there, or looking for awesome hiking trails in the northern California coast, because that’s where you’ll find most of the Redwood trees.
Do note that there are also several locations for where you’ll see the Redwoods and it’s not just in Northern California, but also Oregon and Washington State. So you have a lot of different areas and regions to check them out in, but they are most common to find in Northern California.
If you wish to see Sequoia National Park:
Do it if you’re visiting areas like LA, San Diego or even Las Vegas as it’s a few hours away from those cities and you can also check out other areas in the region such as the southern coast of California and even head east towards Nevada and check out places like Death Valley National Park and Kings Canyon NP. I would also like to add that all of these places are some of the best national parks on the west coast I recommend seeing (and more).
If you can (ideally) explore both the Sequoia and Redwood parks:
You can make an incredible road trip out of it and here are some ideas to consider:
Road trip idea 1:
- Start in San Francisco.
- See the Redwood trees there (Muir Woods).
- Work your way east to Sequoia National Park.
- Finish by working your way back to San Francisco.
Road trip idea 2:
- Start in Las Vegas or Los Angeles.
- Work your way north east to Sequoia National Park.
- Turn north west and finish in San Francisco.
How long is the drive from Redwood National Park to Sequoia National Park?
At least 5 hours and if you’re going to do a road trip covering both these areas, 3-4 days would be enough to explore both parks. Before we continue, let’s get one very common question about this topic out of the way:
Another common question people ask is: Are Sequoias Redwoods?
The answer is technically no but it’s totally understandable why people ask questions like “Is a Redwood a Sequioa”. I used to wonder this too and learned that from a scientific classification they are similar, but not looks and it wasn’t until I saw both trees in person that I was able to see how completely different they were both in size, height and the locations of where they are located in California as well as their color (Redwoods are darker, while Sequioas are more light brown).
I’ll explain more about this later on below but as you see the comparison pictures, it’ll become obvious. In fact, here is the first of many comparison photos from my personal road trips exploring these amazing trees (and the tree size comparison to a car):
My experiences exploring Sequoia National Park vs Redwood National Park:
When I first started exploring California I was on a Pacific Northwest road trip and at the time, I had no idea what Sequoia National Park was. Like many others I just associated giant trees in California as being the Redwoods, having no clue another park with completely different giant trees called Sequoias existed.
After learning that this was not the case, I decided to try and explore Sequoia National Park but due to the weather at the time, couldn’t get into the park. I later explored Redwoods National Park on that same trip.
Many years later, I ended up exploring many more Redwood areas and in 2022, I finally explored much of Sequoia National Park too. I absolutely love both these trees and would easily do return trips to either park/s anytime I am in the area again. But again, the location of these trees matters a lot for your trip, so here’s what you need to know:
The areas of California where you’ll find Sequoia and Redwood National Park:
- Sequoia National Park is in south east California.
- The Redwoods are basically all across the northern California Coast region.
- I have marked on a map where you’ll find each type of tree for reference.
- Remember, you will also see Redwood trees in Oregon and also on the Washington Coast too.
Here’s a comparison photo between the trees in Sequoia National Park vs Redwoods National Park:
While I missed Sequoia (just saw the entrance of it as well as the scenic drive to it), visiting the Redwoods really made up for it and I am still set on seeing the other park the next chance I get. Now with all of this being said, let me finally give you my thoughts on whether you should visit the Redwoods or Sequoia National Park and again, this is all considering you can only visit one park.
And again, visit both places because each one has more than just giant trees to explore and is in it’s own unique geographic region making for an amazing nature experience all around. So let’s do this:
5 reasons to see Sequoia National Park over The Redwoods:
1) Sequoia trees are actually wider in many cases than Redwood trees:
You also have one of the largest and longest living trees there too. There’s a famous one that is on the road with a hole cut out in it that you can drive through.
2) Any area where you’ll find Sequoia trees are gorgeous:
After personally seeing Sequoia National Park (and places like Kings Canyon where you can also find them), I was amazed at how beautiful Sequoia trees were. I not only got to see the national park in it’s entirety, but also saw the 2 biggest trees there:
- General Sherman.
- General Grant.
These are 2 of the biggest Sequoia trees in the park and possibly the world, and they are bigger than any Redwood trees too. On top of that, I also visited this park during mid autumn and it was snowing too, adding even more colors and beauty to the area.
3) Yosemite National Park and other awesome national parks are “somewhat” close by.
You have several national parks and other places to see if you visit Sequoia National Park and they include:
- Kings Canyon National Park (Its connected to Sequoia National Park).
- Joshua Tree.
- Death Valley National Park.
- Pinnacles National Park.
- Yosemite National Park. That one is about 3 hours away.
- There’s also Sequoia National Forest (not the same as the NP).
Each of these parks is a few hours away from Sequoia National Park.
4) The Sequoia National park scenic drive is slightly better than any scenic drive in the Redwoods I did:
While I loved driving through the Redwood regions of California and rate that as a 4.8 out of 5, Sequoia National Park is a 5 out of 5 and that’s because there is more than just a scenic drive that lets you see these trees. There’s also a very long serpentine scenic drive on the southern end of the National Park which is stunning to explore, so there’s more variety to see in the scenic drive regard.
5) Other mountain regions nearby so there’s a lot of other scenic views:
This is all close to the Sierra Nevada mountains region and that is honestly one of the major reasons why Sequoia might be a better choice for you since this area is stunning.
5 reasons to visit the Redwoods over Sequoia:
1) There’s many more towns to stop at when you’re exploring the Redwoods vs Sequoia:
Most people who want to see the Redwoods will typically Route 1 (the Pacific Coast Highway) and run into Redwoods as it is, but along the way there will be many more towns, hotels and places to see.
With Sequoia Trees, you will have to drive a lot longer through more remote areas and when you’re in the park itself, there will be visitor centers and tourist attractions, but no major towns until you exit the park.
2) Many Redwood trees are taller than Sequoias:
And I did have to stop several times because of how stunning huge they were. Being there really made me feel satisfied, as though I didn’t need to see Sequoia and I would guess anyone who visited the other park might think the same thing about the Redwoods. But if you do visit both, do tell me which one you preferred! Kayaking is also something you can do in this place.
3) Redwood trees are much more accessible in general and it’s easier to see them year round vs Sequoia trees (3 major reasons why this is):
1) You can drive up to pretty much any Redwood tree you want, hike through way more Redwood trails, climb them and so forth. Many of the Sequoia trees I saw were much more protected behind gates and sections where you couldn’t get to them and believe me I understand why this is done, but I like a much more interactive adventure and this is where Redwoods have a huge advantage.
2) I get a much more wild and open experience exploring the Redwoods.
3) You can probably see, hike and explore most of the Redwood areas in the coast year round. Sequoia National Park however is much more limited in that because once winter starts, they usually close down the whole national park for months. So if you’re looking to do a road trip in say November-March, you’re way better off planning something to see the Redwoods.
4) Most of the Redwoods are close to the Pacific Ocean and there’s also plenty of cool spots near those coastal areas:
Here’s some of those spots:
- Glass Beach California.
- Fern Canyon trail.
- Natural Bridges Oregon.
- Secret Beach Oregon.
- Oregon Coast.
- Muir Woods (close to San Francisco).
5) Again, there’s many more areas in California where you’ll find Redwoods (they’re more frequent than Sequoias):
The more times I came back to explore the Pacific Coast Highway, the more I continued to find more and more places throughout the northern California coast area where Redwood Parks would just keep showing up on the way. With Sequoia NP, I had to rely on a much more out of the way drive to find them and even in the NP itself, I wouldn’t see of those trees as I would the Redwoods.
Similarities between the Redwoods and Sequoia trees:
- Obviously they are both gigantic trees.
- Both areas in which they are in are beautiful.
- Both have very scenic roads that are awesome to drive through.
- Both areas with Sequoia and Redwood trees have several spots where you can drive your car inside one of the big trees there.
Now I also found a good Redwoods vs Sequoia thread on this subject where others who have been to both places explain their picks. But like I said, visiting both places would be idea. Additionally, I’ve also recently created a new article on the best places to see Redwoods in California to help with that.
Additionally, there are 1 thing I wish I did when I was there:
The Tree Walk attraction there. However, I know most people have to plan beforehand, so depending on your starting location:
- If you’re closer to the northern California coast (road 1), go with the Redwoods.
- If you’re at the south west coast and heading east, go to Sequoia.
And of course, know that this tree walk spot isn’t the only place worth visiting and have plenty of other nature attractions nearby you can make a road trip out of.
Questions about Redwoods vs Sequoia National Park trees:
What is better Sequoia or Redwood National Park?
Both parks are incredible and depending on which area of California you’re in determines which park to visit. If you are in southern California, Sequoia is the winner. If it’s northern California, then see the Redwoods.
Does Sequoia National Park have Redwoods?
No, there are different types of giant trees in Sequoia than in the Redwoods.
How far is Sequoia National Park from the Redwoods?
About 5 hours. If you start at Sequoia National Park and drive north west, the closest Redwood Park (Muir Woods) is north of San Francisco.
Where is the best place to see giant Redwoods?
Redwood trees can be found north of San Francisco all the way to South Oregon. The most popular areas to find them are the Muir Woods and Redwood National and State Park closer to the Oregon border.
Is a Sequoia and a redwood the same thing?
The only similarity is that they are both gigantic trees, but there are major differences. Sequoia trees are wider while Redwood trees are skinnier, though taller.
My personal opinion on Sequoias vs Redwoods:
Like I said in the beginning, you should absolutely visit both areas, and not just to compare the trees yourself and decide which are better, but also because each region has so much more to offer. With Sequoia, it’s the scenic drive and other national parks to explore nearby. With the Redwoods, it’s the coastal area of northern California which offers so much more.
I would gladly keep revisiting both regions of California and I intend to every time I visit California.
Which area do you prefer? The Redwoods or Sequoia?
If you’ve been able to see both of these amazing trees, I’d love to know your thoughts on which park, region, and trees are better and why. Let me know below!