Here is what I hope to remember for next time. Hope it helps you plan your trip! Detailed itinerary at the bottom of the post.
I'm pretty sure, the more north you go, the better it gets.
Take a map even though you just follow the 101.
Our cell service was hit or miss throughout the entire trip. In Jeremiah Smith Redwoods State Park, we didn't have any service. Thankfully, we took a map with us before (and had the kind folks we stayed with print us off one before we went), or else we would have missed a lot of great things.
Sure, you can really hit the highlights if you just drive on the 101, but some great trees or drives are not well marked.
My favorite resources for this trip were Lonely Planet California's Best Trips and Redwoods Hikes.com.
*Photo not staged. We spent half our trip with our noses in a map.
If you travel off season (do it!), plan accordingly.
Full disclosure. This photo was taken in Nevada, but it illustrates my point perfectly. There are NOT a lot of services throughout the Redwoods, which is part of why it is still so wonderful.
This is especially true in the off season where many things are closed (visitor's centers, restaurants, etc). We had one hungry night where we were forced to share a $27 tenderloin (cheapest thing on the menu) because nothing else was open.
Know what is closed/not closed.
If you need to fill up on gas, don't wait.
If you are hungry, eat when you see something. It might be a while before you find other services.
Off season is wonderful because the crowds are minimal. I definitely recommend it.
I heard something about 'lumberjack meals' offered along the 101. Will someone try one and tell me what it is? I'm intrigued.
Pitch a Tent.
You guys. I camped. In a tent. We camped more that trip than we have our entire marriage (and it was only two nights, so that is telling you something). We stayed at Patrick's Point Campground and Burlington Campground on the Avenue of Giants. Both had flushing toilets and showers, two things I required. The coolest thing about Burlington Campground is that you sleep among the Redwoods. So cool.
When we passed through Oregon, we used Airbnb.com to stay with this great couple.
Throughout the Redwoods, there are motels and other campgrounds.
Some looked seedy but others looked fine.
The weather fluctuates between 55-65 degrees most days. Layers are your friend and so are good, water-proof shoes.
Also, dress in a bright color. I wore green the first day and was unintentionally camouflaged. I love the pictures better when I was wearing my bright red jacket.
Our 3-day Itinerary
It could be easily adapted if you had kids on your trip. In my humble opinion, it gets better the further north you go.
Jedediah Redwoods State Park
- Drive Howland Hill Road (45 minute drive)
- Stroll through Simpson-Reed Trail (0.6 miles)
Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park
- Damnation Creek Trail along the 101 (strenuous hike with steep elevation change)
Tour Thru Tree- cost $5
Camp at Patrick's Point State Campground
Patrick's Point State Park
- Agate Beach
- Wedding Rock
Prairie Creek Redwoods
- Fern Canyon of "Jurassic Park" fame
- Saw elk!
- Big Tree and connecting hike
Trinidad, town of
- Lighthouse Restaurant and actual lighthouse
Ferndale, town of
- Delightful Victorian houses
Sleep at Burlington Campground on the Avenue of Giants
- Drive the Avenue. Take it at twilight if possible.
- Founders Grove
- Rockefeller Loop- Giant Tree
- Lots of other big trees.
Go north. You won't regret it.
More photos on my experience here.