Redwoods vs Sequoia. Which Park Should You Visit?

Have a nature trip planned but can only see the Redwoods or the Sequoias? Read this article to figure out which giant tree forest you should visit. Here’s the truth though:

If you ever have the chance, visit both Sequoia and the Redwoods:

Redwoods vs Sequoia

But if you can only choose one, the answer relies solely on these 2 criteria:

  • How much time you have to see either or both spots.
  • And which area you’re closest to if you can only see one.

If you wish to see the Redwoods:

I would recommend you see this place if you’re in the Pacific Northwest area and doing a road trip there, near northern California, because there’s a lot of other stuff to see there, especially on the Pacific Coast Highway.

If you wish to see Sequoia National Park:

Do it only if you’re in the southern area of California as it’s nearby 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.

Let’s take a closer look at the Redwoods and Sequoia to help you decide:

  • I’ll give you a list of scenarios where one park is worth seeing over the other.
  • I’ll also show you comparison photos to help you see which one draws you in more.
  • I’ll also explain the differences between both these places, because there are key details about the trees most people don’t know.

My experiences with the Redwoods and Sequoia National Park:

redwoods vs sequoia locations

I recently had a chance to visit both parks on a Pacific Northwest road trip and quite honestly, I had no idea what Sequoia National Park was.

I just associated giant trees in California as being the Redwoods, having no clue another park existed that had them too.

My trip started in Las Vegas, went to L.A and then up to Modesto, California and then west to the Pacific coast.

It was on the road to Modesto (It’s a highly scenic road by the way) that I discovered I was on a highway that wasn’t too far away from a place called Sequoia National Park.

Upon Googling it, I saw giant trees and though to myself “Wait, aren’t these called the Redwoods?”. 

Further research led me to discover (what many probably do) that the Redwoods and Sequoias are 2 totally different places, each with their own giant trees and in completely different locations of California state as you can see on the map to the right:

The areas of California where you’ll find each National park:

  1. Sequoia National Park is in south east California.
  2. The Redwoods are north west of California.

Seeing as how both places were on my trip’s path, I decided to make a side stop at Sequoia on the way, while headed towards Modesto.

Sadly upon entering the ranger entrance, I was notified that the park was closed due to a winter storm and other previous storms that filled up the roads with too much snow and that I needed to buy tire chains to get anywhere, which would make no sense since the roads were too snowed in as it was, within the park to even make it close enough to see a single giant tree there (called Sequoias obviously).

I had to turn back, head to Modesto, but vowed to stop at the other place, the Redwoods and a few days later, I kept to that promise. All of the photos in this article from the Redwoods are of me and thankfully the weather there is always good enough to visit. 

In fact, I’ve visited the Redwoods three times so far, and each time, the weather is always perfect to go there and explore it.

Here is one of the comparison photos between the Redwoods (left) and Sequoia (right):

Redwoods vs Sequoia 1

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) It’s trees are actually wider in many cases than those in the Redwoods.

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) It’s gorgeous there.

Even though I didn’t get a chance to go INSIDE the park, the road leading into it as well as the landscape were amazing and from the other images I saw of what’s inside, it’s well worth it. And if you’re wondering how I got those awesome photos of Sequoia, it’s because I purchased them and can use them on this site and I plan to until I get a chance to take my own when I visit.

3) Yosemite National Park and other awesome national parks are “somewhat” close by.

You have several national park options if you visit Sequoia (each several hours away, but close enough to visit in a day) and they include:

Each of these spots is a few hours away from Sequoia National Park and some in particular such as the Sierra Nevada Mountains are incredibly beautiful and full of adventures.

4) The air is thinner in this place and it is also more dry.

So if your preference is for this type of air, then you’ll have an easier time going through this park.

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) It is way easier to get to as it is right next to the 101 Pacific Coastal Highway (PCH) road.

All of the Redwood areas can also be driven through on a car to save time. As I was on the Pacific Coast Highway, to get to this place, only involved me getting off an exit, onto the road which was parallel to the PCH and just going on it for a little over 10 miles, before making my way back out onto the PCH and continuing my trip.

2) Many trees in this place are said to be taller than the ones in Sequoia.

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) I found this place to be very peaceful and hardly ever busy.

I was there early in the morning (on a weekday), but I hardly saw any cars nearby and when I stopped to do a short hike, there was literally no one on the trails. I also found the landscape to be beautiful and almost alien in certain spots. I felt like a little man in a giant insect world and even had a few moments where I thought giant spiders would jump out at me. It’s silly to think, but when you go there, you’ll get that “alien world” feeling too, believe me.

4) The air is more moist and it’s also humid so if you prefer that, then this is the place for you. There’s also plenty of cool spots near it:

Here’s a preview of the closest spots:

It is also right by the Pacific Ocean so if you enjoy beaches, you’ll find it near this place.

5) There’s more than one area in California where you’ll find Redwoods:

I was surprised to learn this, but all throughout Northern California are parks and areas with Redwoods including near San Fransisco, Vineyard spots, where I went which is the Northern most park for Redwoods and finally, even the Oregon Coast has them (southern side).

So being able to see more Redwood areas (and other beautiful spots along the way) give tourists much more to see overall vs Sequoia.

Similarities between the Redwoods and Sequoia trees:

Redwoods vs Sequoia 3
  1. Both parks obviously have huge trees.
  2. Both parks are beautiful.
  3. Both have very scenic roads that are awesome to drive through.
  4. Both parks have areas where you can drive your car through 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, there are 2 things I WISH I did when I was 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 those 2 spots aren’t the only places worth visiting and have plenty of other nature attractions nearby you can make a road trip out of.

Recommended gear to bring when hiking through the Redwoods or Sequoia National Park:

best hiking shoes for redwoods and sequoia 01 For any hike in the Redwoods or Sequoia National Park, you can’t go wrong with the Salomon Speedcross 5. No matter how simple or difficult of a hike you decide to do, these sneakers will make it an easier (and fun) experience. Check Price
best waterproof socks for hiking in redwood sequoia adventures 01 Waterproof socks are highly recommended for the more wet hikes in either the Redwoods or Sequoia locations (trust me, there’s many) Check Price
best backpack for redwoods and sequoia 01 For any trail running involved in either area, a good hydration pack will always come in handy and this one is highly rated for such adventures. Check Price
best trekking poles for redwoods and sequoia Trekking poles are good for any strenuous hike or if you have injuries and for either location, these will do very well. Check Price
     

Interested in knowing the other awesome locations I visited? 

My adventures have taken me through many spots ranging from:

  1. The Pacific Northwest.
  2. To amazing places in Utah (The Mighty 5 National Parks).
  3. Western Canada.
  4. Eastern Canada.
  5. The Eastern United States.
  6. The Appalachian Mountains.
  7. And more road trips that I share here.

And I’ve be blessed to see and share so many of the places I’ve seen and hope to see in the future. If you’d like to know more about how I do what I do, see my post on how I blog for a living to do this.

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!

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14 thoughts on “Redwoods vs Sequoia. Which Park Should You Visit?”

  1. Your article describes the magic of nature. I felt like I was travelling along with you to visit both Redwoods and Sequoia parks. I hope one day to visit both and see the beautiful trees, that you describe.

    I have family and friends that live in Sacramento, California, which would give me a wonderful excuse to visit and view these majestic redwood and sequoia.

    I live in New Zealand and we have Kauri and Rimu trees as part of our native parks/forests. I have always been drawn to nature and studied our native flora, so it would be exciting to compare and study your parks.

    Reply
    • Oh wow you have no idea how envious I am that you live in New Zealand. That place has some of the most beautiful nature destinations I have ever researched and it is in the top 5 list of places I want to visit. I can assure you that New Zealand alone has more than enough nature to challenge the spots in the U.S. but being that your family lives so close to it (Sacramento is a few hours away from the Redwoods), you should definitely visit it! Be sure to check out the Oregon Coast too, since it’s almost next to it.

      Reply
  2. I was actually in Deadman’s Cove, Washington last year during my annual holiday with my family and it was a wonderful place to be. I will surely make it either Redwoods or Sequoia parks this year, thanks to you for wetting my appetite! 

    I love you expository skill. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • No problem! Deadman’s Cove is way north of either of these spots though, and I do think the Oregon coast is the best coastal spot in the US, but yes, there’s much to see south of the Washington Coast too.

      Reply
  3. In our eighties my husband and I plan to visit one of these parks in October. Which park allows seniors to experience the most without hiking involved?

    Reply
    • Both parks are great for this. While hikes are available, for the general public (in both the Redwoods and Sequoia), there are many walkways to the giant trees that are fairly easy to access. In addition, both park have options for scenic drives to enjoy.

      Reply
    • For the Redwoods or Sequoia? If either, then both parks offer long trail options and hikes you can do. For me, I love the hikes in the Redwoods (northern areas) as they have many trails you can do and if it’s not enough, combine the trails to do longer versions and make it a challenging multi hiking experience.

      If there is another location you’re interested in getting trail ideas for, then I would recommend checking out an article where I show how I find easy hikes near me that have a lot of potential for challenges.

      Reply
    • Hi Laurel, sorry for the wrong link. I fixed it and yes there is a tree walk in the Redwoods within California.

      Reply
  4. Solid post but if you only drove through the Redwoods on 101 you really did miss the magic of them. The way the sun light shoots through the giants and how the fog settles. Also the old growth forests rival the Sequoias.

    The first picture posted is a young forest. Both forests are beautiful but the magical eeriness of the Redwood coastal skyscrapers with a 10-20 ft diameter base is even magical enough for a Jedi.

    Reply
    • Hi Peter, I like the Jedi Ewok reference and it applies a lot to the Redwoods. I did more than just drive through there and have hiked a bit in the Redwoods National and State Forest area. I do also plan to explore more it the next chance I get and finally get into the Sequoia National Park when it’s not snowed in.

      The 3 times I’ve been to the Redwood areas has almost always been in the morning and I can totally relate to the fog view you mention. It really is a stunning place and quite peaceful. At no point in time was I ever scared hiking through there and it always felt safe, comfortable and tranquil. This might be another advantage this place holds over the Sequoia region.

      Reply
  5. I’ve been to both areas north and south. Of course I was just a young girl at the time, and thought it was interesting, but not that interesting. Although I loved to swim and the water was too cold, even though people took their chances. I like Sequoia National Park. Many people that heard me talk about it, didn’t even know it was there. We camped and heard there was a bear going around so to pack our groceries into either a locked tight container and hand the containers or put in car and lock it. The only problem is bears can sometimes break into some cars. And once they know there is food in the camp sites, they keep coming back. I’ve been to Yosemite National Park a couple times. So many that I feel like I’m in my yard and viewing the same things but with a different perspective every time. I have a friend that takes many photos of the place. They like to go in the Fall when the leaves are turning color. So with the Northern Redwoods, I think we drove through the area as were on the West Coast road trip nearest the ocean which is Hwy 1 if I’m not mistaken. I don’t have as clear memory of it, since we didn’t stay as long. We could have gotten out and walked a little bit, but the adults weren’t really up to walking too much. As a 9 year old kid, I could have probably walked all day. But we do what we’re told at that age, even if it’s not what I wanted to do. So no camping there for us anyway. It was strictly a road trip and on our way home, so the destination was what made us a little more hurried, to get home and recover from the many days away. My dad loved nature and that’s where I get my love of it too. He loved to show me things and tell me what he learned about our wonderful natural landscapes in California. There is so much to see, don’t leave anything out. Go to both places always! You won’t regret it. And there are many adventures in parts of the State that people don’t hear about. There’s just too many to list or see in a lifetime. I love California and it’s variable climates up and down the State. And we need to preserve these places for the future so the generations to come will be able to enjoy nature as well. And it does make you feel small. Those trees are so tall and if they could speak I’m sure they would have stories of ages in the past where things we different for the Human species, but just the same for them. They never change and always give us a guide to life on the West Coast of our beautiful Country.

    Reply
    • Thank you for sharing this Tam! I’m doing a trip very soon to the southern California area and hope to give Sequoia another shot and that it’s not snowed in like last time.

      Reply

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