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Discovering Everything About Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

Discovering Everything About Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

Explore the stunning Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park in our detailed guide. Discover top activities, seasonal highlights, and how to plan. Team


3 min read

July 11, 2023

Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park offers an intoxicating blend of natural beauty and captivating history. Spanning an impressive 14,000 acres, the park is located in Humboldt County, about 50 miles north of Eureka. This scenic park is a cherished part of the larger Redwood National and State Parks (RNSP) and it offers visitors an unparalleled opportunity to immerse themselves in a timeless landscape brimming with ancient, towering redwood trees.

The park was established in 1923 with the aim to protect and preserve the old-growth coastal redwoods. These magnificent trees, some of which are over 300 feet tall and 1,500 years old, comprise one of the world's most awe-inspiring natural cathedrals. Here, you're not just walking among trees; you're walking among living history.

As a historical note, the park's creation was facilitated by a gift of land from the Save the Redwoods League, a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of the world's tallest trees. Over the years, concerted conservation efforts have expanded the park and ensured that its unique ecosystem continues to thrive, providing shelter to a diverse array of wildlife, including Roosevelt elk, black bears, bobcats, and over 200 species of birds.

Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park is an expansive park that is filled with natural beauty.

When to Visit


Spring is a time of renewal and vibrancy in the park. The landscape becomes a riot of color with wildflowers in bloom, making it an ideal time for photography. You can enjoy birdwatching as migrating species return, or take a serene walk under the increasingly sunlit canopies.


Summer provides the most predictable weather, with the mild, sunny days perfect for hiking, picnicking, and camping. The forests offer plenty of shade, making even the hottest days comfortable. This is also a great time to spot herds of Roosevelt elk, which are typically more active during the summer months.


In fall, the park is a blend of subtle color shifts and crisp air. Many of the deciduous trees contrast their autumn hues against the evergreen backdrop of the towering redwoods. It's a less crowded time to visit, making it perfect for those who prefer a more solitary communion with nature.


The winter brings with it a sense of tranquility, offering a different kind of beauty. Though rain is common, it also ensures the park's streams and waterfalls are at their most majestic. Just remember to dress warmly and prepare for wet conditions.

Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park delivers some beautiful nature in the heart of northern California.

Getting There and Fees

Reaching Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park is straightforward, with the park conveniently located off U.S. Route 101. For those flying in, the closest airport is the Arcata-Eureka Airport, about an hour's drive away. From there, it's a picturesque drive along the Redwood Highway.

Parking within the park is abundant with lots near the visitor center and trailheads. For those wishing to extend their stay overnight, there are two main campgrounds - Elk Prairie and Gold Bluffs Beach. Both offer a unique camping experience and require reservations well in advance, particularly during the busy summer months.

There are limited fees. There is a $35 fee required to camp at the four developed campgrounds. There is otherwise no entrance fee into the park.

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Top 5 Things to Do at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

Hiking Among the Giants

Hiking is, without a doubt, the premier activity at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. With over 75 miles of trails, hikers of all levels can meander through the park's diverse landscape. The park's towering redwoods, serene meadows, and tumbling waterfalls are best experienced on foot. For a truly awe-inspiring experience, try the Miners' Ridge and James Irvine loop. This 11.6-mile trek will take you through lush old-growth forests and along the stunning Fern Canyon, where the walls are draped with seven types of ferns.

Wildlife Viewing

Wildlife viewing is another must-do activity. The park is home to a thriving population of Roosevelt elk, often spotted grazing in Elk Prairie near the park's visitor center. Bring your binoculars and your patience, and you may also spot black bears, bobcats, and a plethora of bird species. The park even offers guided wildlife tours for those interested in learning more about these magnificent creatures.

The Roosevelt elk is an iconic part of the natural wildlife in the park.

Camping Under the Stars

There's nothing quite like camping beneath the towering canopy of the redwoods or near the crashing waves of the Gold Bluffs Beach. Both the Elk Prairie and Gold Bluffs Beach campgrounds provide a one-of-a-kind outdoor experience. Don't forget to make a reservation, grab your s'mores supplies, and prepare for a night beneath the stars like you've never experienced before.

Biking the Trails

For the more adventurous, biking the park's trails offers a thrilling way to explore the landscape. One popular route is the 19-mile Ossagon Trail that weaves through the redwood forest and along the coastline, offering breathtaking panoramic views. Note that biking is permitted only on designated trails, so be sure to check the park's regulations before setting off.

The hiking trails through the park offer a chance to explore while surrounded by majestic redwood trees.

Attending a Ranger-Led Program

Finally, consider attending a ranger-led program to deepen your understanding of the park's natural and cultural history. These programs vary from campfire talks to guided hikes, and cover a range of topics such as local wildlife, the park's logging history, and the ecology of the redwoods. It's not just informative, but also a fun way to engage with the park's community.

After exploring the towering redwoods, spotting diverse wildlife, camping under the stars, biking along scenic trails, and attending educational ranger-led programs, you will walk away with a deep appreciation for the extraordinary natural beauty and historical significance of the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.

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