If you’re trying to figure out the best time to visit Redwood National Park, there isn’t one clear and simple answer to that question. When to go will depend upon what you want to see, how much rain you can handle and whether you can tolerate crowds.
We’ve visited the redwoods in various seasons and regardless of when you go, it’s so worth it. The redwood forests, epic ocean views and extra large elk are all waiting for you. But certain seasons have their advantages. So this guide for when to visit Redwood National Park will give you weather information, tips on how to avoid crowds, the best and worst times to go, and a whole slew of travel tips.
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What and Where is Redwood National Park
If you got here searching when to visit “Redwoods National Park” specifically, I need to explain a bit about Northern California’s coastal redwood parks. The redwoods are actually spread around in a multi-jurisdictional collection of state parks, preserves and, yes Redwoods National Park.
Visualize a national park boundary with state parks residing within and adjacent to it. Redwoods National Park starts just northeast of Trinidad but it extends disconnected blobs of land north to Crescent City. Jedediah State Park and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park are co-managed with the National Park Service. And getting there from SF (we have an itinerary for that), includes a bunch of other state parks, reserves and scenic drives that feature these huge trees.
This NPS map helps to illustrate what I’m talking about. But, don’t get hung up on the National Park part. Just follow the advice below, regardless of jurisdiction.
This map shows you where all of the major redwood groves are in California, including the North Coast groves that are in/near Redwood National Park.
Weather in Redwood National Park (and Thereabouts)
For this purpose of this article, the weather map above shows average precipitation and temps for Crescent City, which is near Jedediah State Park. But everything north of Trinidad has similar weather.
Redwood National Park is cool, and I don’t just mean the trees. The trees thrive in chilly, foggy coastal weather and this regional has plenty of that. Average high temperatures range from 55-55′ F with lows of 42-50′ F.
In addition, this region is one of the wettest in CA, receiving an average of 9″ of rain during peak winter. So, regardless of when you go, be prepared with lots of layers.
When is the Best Time to Visit Redwood National Park?
For weather, the best time to visit Redwood National Park is May to mid-October. Rain will be negligible and the temps will be (slightly) warmer.
But if you want some quietude for your forest bathing, then April/May and Sept/Oct are the best.
When is the Worst Time to Visit the Redwoods?
For weather, December through March will be extremely wet. Low cloud cover can obscure the views and trails may be muddy. And some areas, like Fern Canyon aren’t accessible at all.
When is the Busiest Time to Visit the Redwoods?
Like anywhere, summer weekends and holidays will be particularly busy. Trailhead parking lots fill up and the shorter, easier trails get very busy.
If that’s the only time you can visit, you can avoid some of the crowds by visiting less popular areas like Del Norte State Park or Lost Man creek in the National Park. And be sure to book accommodation in advance.
If you have a flexible schedule, weekdays are better and shoulder season is best.
The Best Time to Visit the Redwoods: Season by Season
December, January, February
Weather is fickle in California and it seems that we’re either having floods or droughts. If, God forbid, we are having a drought year, winter can be a great time to visit the redwoods. Many of the more popular trails could be clear and the scenic drives will be on point.
March, April, May
The rain usually dies off toward the third week of April, making the following 4 weeks a great shoulder season in the redwoods. Before Memorial Day, lodging options will be pretty good and the campgrounds should have good availability.
That said, expect soft and muddy trails. And keep an eye out for blooming rhododendrons.
Do you remember those plucky Ewoks from Star Wars: A New Hope? Well, Crescent City remembers them too. And in late May they host the Forest Moon festival with various Star Wars themed events.
The Avenue of the Giants marathon usually happens on the first Sunday in May. So, unless you’re running it, you may want to avoid the scenic drive during the event.
June, July, August
How about warmer and sunny? Well, you’ll get that during the summer. The trails will be dry and access on some of dirt roads (like to Fern Canyon), should be great.
It will also be much busier, so book ahead.
July boasts the Northern Lights Music Festival, which occurs near Leggett, as well as a variety of fun small-town 4th of July celebrations.
Every August, Eureka hosts a street art festival. And Trinidad has an art and music festival.
September, October, November
My last trip up to the redwoods was in early October and it was glorious. The weather was clear and the trails were empty. One caution is to pay attention to wildfire season.
Eureka hosts the Redwood Coast music festival in October.
Plan Your Trip to the Redwoods
Here are some additional resources for visiting the redwoods.
Here’s a 5 day road trip from SF to the coast redwoods. It includes all key stops and wacky roadside attractions. As for where to overnight, if you are doing hotel/motels, we recommend stopping in/near Trinidad and Eureka.
Trinidad has a few oceanfront vacation rentals. Or check out the well-rated View Crest Lodge, which is near Sue-Meg (Patrick Point) State Park. Or you can glamp in the woods at the Emerald Forest cabins. For camping, find campgrounds at Sue-Meg (Patrick Point) State Park, Big Lagoon campgrounds, or at the Arcata KOA. Emerald Forest RV and Cabin campground also has tent sites.
In Eureka, The Lighthouse Inn is a full-service hotel with ocean views. It’s walkable to downtown Crescent City and the lighthouse viewpoint. The Westward Inn is a well-rated, conveniently located budget option.
The Redwood Meadows RV park is right near all of the top spots in the park. In addition to RV sites, they have a glamping tent and a yurt. They also offer regular tent spots if the nearby Jedediah State park campground is full. The same outfit runs the Crescent City KOA, which is a little further away. The KOA has RV and tent slots as well as cabins.
Other camping options include the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park campground, Ramblin’ Redwoods campground, Ruby van Deventer County Park campground, Florence Keller County Park campground and disbursed camping along the Smith River national recreation area.
More Trips Featuring Redwoods
If this is part of a larger California road trip, we’ve got an article that will tell you where to find ALL of the major redwood groves.
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