This California National Park With The World's Tallest Trees Feels Otherworldly

Whether you're on a tour of the best wedding venues California has to offer or you're feeding your inner flick geek with an exploration of unforgettable film locations in tropical settings, if you find yourself in the Golden State, be sure to include a trip to the otherworldly land of Redwood National Park. Located in the northern part of California, it's a bit of a trek from San Francisco (about seven hours), Los Angeles (12 hours), and the famed Yosemite National Park (nine hours). However, the fact that it's removed from the hustle and bustle of the most populous state in the union adds to its draw.

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Iconic scenery and vast terrains are nothing new to California, a state that encompasses more national parks than any other. With nine to choose from, visitors can peruse the skyline from the top of massive sand dunes in Death Valley National Park or watch for sea life while paddling through Channel Islands National Park. Without exception, these parks are all spectacular, but Redwood National Park (RNP) offers something truly unique: The chance to stand amongst the tallest trees on the planet.

The tall and short of Redwood National Park

If you're into road trips, Redwood National Park is for you. In addition to approaching from the lower parts of California, you can access the park from the north. About a 4-hour drive from the deepest lake in the United States, you could (and should) add Oregon's stunning Crater Lake to your route. Alternatively, you can make your visit part of a journey up the remarkable Hwy 101 coastline.

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Once in the nearly 132,000-acre park, you won't have to track down the giant coast redwoods. They are everywhere, and they're impossible to miss. With heights up to an astonishing 380 feet, they tower above you as you wind through any of the scenic drives. RNP is unique in that it's actually made up of both a national park and three California state parks. In fact, the park's name is officially Redwood National and State Parks to acknowledge this partnership, which contains around 45% of the state's protected redwood trees and endless opportunities for adventure. 

As a visitor to the park, you likely won't notice when you pass from state to nationally-owned land. The only caveat is that the national park is free to visit, while the state parks require the purchase of a day pass in some areas.

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A unique experience at Redwood National Park

While you can spend an hour or a week in RNP, you should know there are many ways to experience it. If you're limited on time or have mobility issues, driving the park provides awe-inspiring views and that otherworldly vibe. On the other hand, if you're willing and capable, ditch the car and hit the trails. You'll find yourself surrounded by the behemoths and walking amongst them provides a sense of scale. Dwarfed by their stature, you'll understand why it's earned status as a Unesco World Heritage site. For a multi-faceted experience, hike out of the trees and onto the beach, where you can explore 40 miles of coastline.

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RNP also accommodates road and trail biking. Inside the national park portion, e-bikes are allowed, but they are banned on some state-owned trails. If you're planning to stay over, there are also four developed campgrounds and a sprinkling of backcountry sites if backpacking is more your style. If you're traveling with your pet, note they are not allowed on any park trails, but leashed pets are welcome on roads, in campgrounds, and on the beach. These rules are in place to protect your pet as well as the local wildlife, which includes Roosevelt elk, sea lions, whales, black bears, and bald eagles.

Redwood National and State Parks is about much more than big trees. It's a place to embrace forest immersion, prairies, oak woodlands, and beaches, all while wondering if you're still on Earth.

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