Redwood vs Sequoia: Which Park Should You Visit?

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.

Bottom line: Ideally you should visit both Sequoia NP and the Redwoods:

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:

Redwoods vs Sequoia

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:

are sequoias redwoods new 03

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.

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:

A common question people ask is: Are Sequoias Redwoods?

No they are completely different types of trees, both in size, location and even color. 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):

sequoia vs redwood new 05

My experiences exploring Sequoia National Park vs Redwood National Park:

sequoia vs redwood map new 02

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 trip.

Many years later, I ended up exploring many more Redwood areas and in 2022, I finally explored all 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:

  1. Sequoia National Park is in south east California.
  2. The Redwoods are basically all across the northern California Coast region.
  3. I have marked on a map where you’ll find each type of tree for reference.
  4. Remember, you will also see Redwood trees in Oregon and also on the Washington Coast too.

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

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: 

muir woods vs sequoia national park 01

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.

biggest sequoia tree in the world general sherman

You have several national parks and other places to see if you visit Sequoia National Park and they include:

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.

Note: Also here is an excellent Tripadvisor post on Sequoia I recommend checking out where you can get additional good tips on what to do see/do there as well as where to stay.

5 reasons to visit the Redwoods over Sequoia:

redwoods vs sequoia tripadvisor post 051) 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:

There are 3 main advantages here to consider:

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:

5) Again, there’s many areas in California where you’ll find Redwoods (they’re more frequent to spot 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.

Note: And just like with Sequoia, I found a good Tripadvisor post on the Redwoods here you should check out if you’re serious about going.

Similarities between the Redwoods and Sequoia trees:

Redwoods vs Sequoia 3
  1. Obviously they are both gigantic trees.
  2. Both areas in which they are in are beautiful.
  3. Both have very scenic roads that are awesome to drive through.
  4. 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, there are 1 thing I wish I did when I was there:

The Tree Walk attraction there.Redwoods vs Sequoia 2

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.

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

Questions about Redwoods vs Sequoia National Park trees:

redwood forest 01

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!

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14 thoughts on “Redwood vs Sequoia: Which Park Should You Visit?”

  1. 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
  2. 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
    • Hi Laurel, sorry for the wrong link. I fixed it and yes there is a tree walk in the Redwoods within California.

      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
  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
  4. 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
  5. 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

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