Firstly you might wonder why it is called a National AND State Parks, this is because the National Park was not formed until 1968. However prior to that a large portion of the area was state parks. Now it is managed jointly by the National Park Service and California State Parks, hence the name.
Since only days before we arrived here we were in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park viewing the redwoods family member, the sequoia, you may wonder what is the difference between the two species of giant trees. The first major difference is where they grow, the sequoia only grow on the western slopes of the Sierra Mountains between 4,000 and 7,000 ft of elevation and the Redwood only grow in the coastal areas of Northern California, along with a few miles into southern Oregon. Giant Redwoods live up to 2000 years, grow up to 380 ft tall, have bark up to 12 in thick, and a diameter of up to 30 ft. In contrast a Sequoia can live up to 3000 years, grow up to 300 ft, have bark up to 3 ft thick, and also grow to a diameter of up to 30 ft. The Giant Redwood are the tallest trees in the world but on the other hand the Sequoias are the largest trees in the world by volume. This is because the sequoias carry their girth almost the full height while redwoods taper more. Either of them can have branches that are as big as the truck of a regular large tree. On average, in my experience, the redwoods tend to be taller while the sequoias have a larger diameter.
The two parks are in quite different ecosystems as mention above, Redwood National Park runs along the beautiful northern California coast while Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are in the stunning Sierra mountains. What this means in practice is that there is a lot more “civilization” surrounding Redwood Nation Park. Both have national forests nearby but it would be a longer drive to boondock in one near Redwood NP. The road to Redwood NP, while a bit windy and hilly, is nothing compared to the roads leading into Sequoia-Kings Canyon NP.
This also means in general that the hiking in Redwood NP is much less strenuous. You can also hike along up and down the coast which could make for a very unique backpacking trip. We hiked the James Irvine trail to the coast, then down the coast for a mile, and the took the Miners Ridge trail to loop back to our car at the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park visitors center. It was a perfect day hike in that we got to see a number of ecosystems in ~8 miles and were able to make it a loop. There were also a number of short hikes right off the road that were very nice also. At this point I should also mention that simply driving Highway 101 will provide you with some beautiful scenery, huge trees, and the opportunity to see some gray whales.
As far as my perspective on the trees themselves I found the sequoias to be individually more impressive. Go back and look at the picture of me on the stump in that post or the picture of the tree that was used as a HOUSE for example! However collectively I thought the Redwood forest was more impressive. This was because while the sequoias seemed to be scattered here and there, the redwoods dominated the forest. We hiked and drove for miles and miles all while being surrounded by a majority of redwood trees. Either way both parks are recommended, neither more than the other. It simply depends on what your looking for. If you want to go backpacking I’d say Sequoia-Kings Canyon NP would be the choice. If you’d prefer to stay in a cabin or with full hookups in your rv and tour by car I’d recommended Redwood NP. Redwood NP also tends to be more temperate, while they were getting snow in Sequoia-Kings Canyon NP we were enjoying 60 to 80 degree days. Both parks will blow your mind.
We decided to stay at Elk Country RV Resort and Campground which was just outside of the National Park. We didn’t bother to try to stay in the National or State parks as many of them had restrictions on the size of your rig and had no hookups but cost just as much without being in any better location. We had full hookups and the park was nearly empty. The elk in their name is no joke, at any point in time you might look out and see 20 of them chowing down in the prairie. I also saw a fox and a skunk while walking around at night. Thankfully the skunk turned and ran as soon as he saw me. They had two different areas you could choose from to camp (it used to be two different campgrounds). One was in a heavily forested area and the other was a wide open field. We chose the forested area, of course, but to each their own.
Although the owner seemed like a nice enough guy, he was a bit of moron. Even though Victoria, I, and the few other campers who were there(including two of his camp hosts!) we were unable to get onto the advertised free WiFi for our entire stay. He continued to insist that since it worked on his phone there was nothing wrong with it. So if you need WiFi avoid this park(and be sure to let them know why, maybe he’ll get the message ;). With Verizon I did have both voice and data(as usual) while Victoria with AT&T did not(as usual).
Elk Country RV Resort and Campground
216 Idlewood Lane Trinidad, California 95570
Phone: +1 707 488 2181
P.S. Be sure to check out our previous post about Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park for more information and some very cool pictures.