Six Kid-Friendly Activities at Redwood National Park

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Summer is our favorite time for road trips. Since we live in Washington state, places like Canada, Idaho, and Oregon are all within driving distance from our home. Sometimes, we’ll even travel down to California to visit friends in the Bay Area or family down in San Diego. On a recent trip to California, instead of taking a direct route through I-5, we decided to add a few extra days and visit the Redwood National Park. It was a nice experience visiting the Redwoods with kids, and a good chance for all of us to reconnect with each other and with nature.

My son standing next to a redwood tree in the Trees of Mystery (July 2017)

Redwood National Park history

The United States has a fairly extensive national park system, with the first national park established in 1872 by President Ulysses S. Grant. There are now over 400 national parks (major and minor parks, along with affiliated attractions) across the country and in its surrounding territories. The West Coast is lucky to have a large number of the major national parks, including Redwood National Park in California, Crater Lake in Oregon, and Mount Rainier in Washington. What I love about the national parks is that they give you a glimpse of the country’s history and natural wonder!

Redwood National Park was established in 1968 and covers an area of approximately 217 square miles along the coast of northern California. The park is visited by over 500,000 visitors a year. It houses some of the United States’ tallest and oldest trees, the redwood trees. These trees can be up to several thousand years old, and can span 30 feet or more in diameter. It truly is amazing to see!

A child at Redwood National Park, experiencing the Redwoods with kids
Hiking in the Redwoods forest (July 2017)

Visiting the Redwoods with kids

The best part about Redwood National Park is that it’s so family-friendly. There are a number of easy hikes for little ones to do, as well as roadside attractions that will keep the kids engaged and excited about nature. If you’re planning a trip to Redwood National Park in the near future, check out our picks for kid-friendly activities to do on your next trip to the Redwoods with kids.

Explore the Trees of Mystery

Our first stop during our visit to Redwood National Park was the Trees of Mystery. It’s located just north of the town of Klamath. Though technically not part of the national park, this roadside attraction has a number of redwood trees that you can look at and explore.

First opened in 1946, it features a trail through old-growth forests, a gondola ride along the tree canopies (called the Sky Trail), and an outdoor collection of redwood carvings. There is also a museum dedicated to indigenous culture located adjacent to the gift shop, and a forest-themed restaurant located across the street from the Trees of Mystery. My favorite part of the attraction, though, was the gigantic Paul Bunyan statue, accompanied by his blue ox, Babe, that greets visitors near the entrance to the trail. It certainly is worth a visit!

Paul Bunyan waves hello at the Trees of Mystery (July 2017)

Experience the Tour-Thru Tree

Travelers have been visiting the redwood forests long before the national park was established. One of the relics of tourism in this area are the drive through trees – redwood trees that have been cut to allow cars to drive through.

The environmentalist in me cringes at the thought of damaging such a natural wonder. However, the traveler in me was curious about what it would actually be like to drive through a tree. Fortunately, there are a few trees in the area that you can do this. We chose the Tour-Thru Tree near Klamath. For just $5, you can drive your car through the tree, and even pose for a picture!

Driving through the Tour-Thru Tree (July 2017)

Drive the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway

Speaking of driving, there are several scenic drives around Redwood National Park, but our favorite was the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway. It’s a winding road that runs through Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, in between the towns of Klamath and Orick.

The road is lined with redwoods and other trees found in the old-growth forests. It’s accessible via Highway 101, as it serves as a scenic bypass for the highway. We enjoyed the slower pace of the drive, and the cooling shade that the big trees provided.

Standing in a redwood tree along the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway (July 2017)

Visit the Big Tree

Along the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway is a turn-off leading vehicles to the Big Tree. With a circumference of about 68 feet, this is one of the largest trees in Redwood National Park. The tree is just off the road, so it’s an easy walk along a path to visit the tree.

There is a boardwalk built partially around the tree, so you can get an up close and personal look at the Big Tree! This is one of our must-see sights when you’re visiting Redwoods with kids.

A child in front of the Big Tree at Redwood National Park, visiting the Redwoods with kids
Visiting the Big Tree (July 2017)

Travel along the Avenue of the Giants

Another scenic drive, and actually about 80 miles south of Redwood National Park, is the Avenue of the Giants. This is a 31 mile north-south route that spans an old portion of Highway 101 within Humboldt Redwoods State Park.

There are a number of tourist attractions along this drive, include two drive through trees and a house built into the trunk of a tree. There are also some cafes and art galleries along this route that showcase art made from the redwoods.

Visiting the roadside attractions along the Avenue of the Giants (July 2017)

Hike Lady Bird Johnson Grove

Whenever we can, we like to incorporate physical activities into our travel plans. I loved our visit to Redwood National Park because that physical activity was just built in to each day’s activities. There are plenty of kid-friendly hikes at Redwood National Park (and the park brochure gives you a lot of options!), but by far our favorite was the Lady Bird Johnson Grove trail.

Lady Bird Johnson Grove trail has so many trees to go into and explore. The trail was just the right length to keep our kids active without getting over tired. This trail is perfect for hiking in the Redwoods with kids, especially if you have really young ones.

A father and daughter visiting the Redwoods with kids, hiking along Lady Bird Johnson Grove trail at Redwood National Park
Crossing the bridge to the Lady Bird Johnson Grove trail (July 2017)

An opportunity to connect with nature

We loved our time at Redwood National Park. These ancient trees gave us an opportunity to connect with nature, and connect with each other.

With the decrease in funding to the National Park system, and the threat of climate change, now is an important time to experience America’s national parks. I would even go so far as to say it’s your duty to experience these parks, especially Redwood National Park, before they’re gone for good!

Have you had a chance to experience Redwood National Park? Share your favorite memories of the Redwoods with kids in the comments below.

Six Kid-Friendly Activities at Redwood National Park - experiencing the Redwoods with kids
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8 Responses

    1. Thanks Terumi! We were so blown away by the trees too. Especially the ones that were hollowed out. They felt like secret hideouts!

  1. Another thing to see along the Avenue of the Giants at the Women’s Fedreation Grove, is the albino redwood. It is part of a living redwood but it has no pigmentation.

  2. Happy to find these suggestions focused on travel with kids- I’m researching a trip with 3 kids age (7,5,2). Any suggestions where to stay, having a hard time deciding which area to minimize long drive time with kids in the car.

    1. Thanks! Klamath has lodges and camping options. You can also look at Orick, though the selection isn’t quite as big as Klamath’s. Hope this helps.

  3. How much time would you recommend for driving through and taking part in some of the activities you mentioned? We are driving the Pacific Coast Highway next year and we’d love to do the activities you mention here, as well as one or two hikes (our kids will be 9, 11 and 13). Thanks!

    1. We did it in the span of a couple of days. The hikes are short, so if you have a car, you can drive from one place to another.

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Hi, I'm Astrid

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I'm a travel-loving mom of three from Seattle. Join our adventures as we explore the Pacific Northwest and the world!

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