Why the Best Trips in California Include a Stop to See the Redwoods!

Best trips in California Big Basin Redwoods National Park

One of Our Best Trips in California

Me: We’re going to see some really big trees.

Kids: Really Mom? Why?

Me: Because you’ve never seen anything like them.

Kids: OMG (growning)

A few hours later…

Kids: Mom, that was really cool.

Me: I know.

Road Trip!

We always have the best trips in California.

Seriously… some of our best family memories!

This particular trip from Monterey to San Francisco included a little detour through Big Basin Redwoods State Park. Big Basin is about an hour and a half from Monterey and an hour and a half to San Francisco.

The California State Park system is awesome! And their website is fantastic. (Especially for not so outdoorsy moms like me.)  I love that it includes things like: what you can do if you only have an hour…or half a day…or a week! So Big Basin was the perfect destination for us to check the famous redwoods off of my bucket list!

Big Basin is the oldest state park in California and has the largest continuous strand of ancient redwoods south of San Francisco. There are more than 80 miles of trails, several waterfalls, and trees 2500 years old!

Best trips in California- Big Basin Redwoods National Park

Can you fit your family in a tree??

The Redwood Loop Trail

We chose to walk the Redwood Loop Trail since we only had an hour. It’s a little over half a mile trail that is stroller and wheelchair accessible. This may be a short trail but it packs a big punch! They have a self guided tour pamphlet so you can follow along on the trail.

Nature is so cool y’all.

The highlights were definitely the Mother of the Forest and Father of the Forest…two of the oldest and biggest beauties.

So cool.

Best trips in California Big Basin Redwoods National Park

The root structure of a giant redwood that fell in 1983!

Best trips in California- Big Basin Redwoods National Park

A new meaning to group hug!

Best trips in California- Big Basin Redwoods National Park

Although it’s an easy walk, I’d still recommend wearing better/more appropriate shoes!

Best trips in California- Big Basin Redwoods National Park

Chimney Tree- A redwood hollowed out by fire completely to the top!

Tips for Visiting Big Basin:

  • These are mountain roads leading to and from Big Basin. If you or your kids get car sick…be prepared!
  • There are a few little places to eat on your way to the park in Boulder Creek (15 minutes) or Ben Lomond (20 minutes).
  • Wear walking shoes (unlike me…what was I thinking?).
  • There are actually really nice restrooms at the beginning of the trail.
  • It costs $10 to park at the Headquarters area of the park. Our “walk” was definitely longer than the 0.6 mile trail since parking was limited, but that was not a big deal to us.
  • They give you this nifty little form to fill out and leave on your dashboard to let rangers know what your plans were if you don’t return to your car. Kinda cool/ kinda scary! Safety first people!Best trips in California Big Basin Redwoods National Park

We have had some of the best trips in California! I would definitely recommend adding a stop to see the redwoods to any California road trip itinerary. There are several other places to see them if Big Basin isn’t along your route. Here is a good resource for other places to see the redwoods in California.

I personally loved Big Basin because it was a super easy stop without feeling like I had to spend the day hiking or camping. Don’t get me wrong, I do like hiking… I just don’t feel like that always fits into the itinerary without devoting an entire day to it.

You can read more on our California adventures HERE (San Francisco) and HERE (Napa Valley with kids!)

Have you seen the giant redwoods in California? As always, let me know what y’all think!

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Best trips in California Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Linking up with Two Traveling Texans and #TheWeeklyPostcard …go check them out too!

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  1. I would love to see the Redwoods and that short hike/walk sounds great. What a cute picture of the family hugging the tree. I really like that form that they give you, I think more places should do that! Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.

  2. One of my bucket list places! Thank you for this information post. I had to smile at your first point of advice about the windy road. I always drive on mountain roads or I would need to “be prepared”!

  3. I’m always looking for great state parks and ways to involve the kids. Love that this can be a quick trip, but still a lot of fun. Thanks so much for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard!

    1. I’d love to spend more time there with my kids…but this was a perfect introduction! Hopefully we’ll get back one day!

  4. If I ever go back to California, the giant redwoods are definitely on my list. They’re so awe-inspiring, and I bet some of them were around when dinosaurs were wandering the earth! If only they could talk…

  5. What a beautiful forest. I have read so much about these majestic trees I would love to see them one day. The root structure is incredible. I like the idea of Big Basin because there is no real hiking or camping involved. I really enjoyed this post!

    1. Thank you so much! I loved that we had the option to just “drop in” but that you could definitely spend days there too!

  6. I’ve never seen the giant redwoods. But, I remember my own mum telling me about them when I was about the age of yours (I’m now in my 50s). Definitely something that is still on my bucket list

    1. They were as incredible and awe-inspiring as I had hoped! And it was fantastic that we could see them in just a short visit!

  7. Those are some cool options. I would be confused to decide what to do in one hour.
    Love these kind of trips with kids. What a wonder of nature! I dream of seeing these some day!

  8. What a stunning State Park. I went to Redwood NP as a teenager, but I want to explore so much more of the Redwood. Great tips! I also totally agree that every trip to California should include the Redwoods.

  9. I live in California and hadn’t heard of this park! Sounds like a great spot to stretch your legs during a Cali road trip, will check it out next time I’m North!

  10. I love your dialogue of your conversation with your kids! So funny! I can see why you took them, the trees are beautiful and I can’t believe how big they are. I would love to explore more of California to see these parks.

  11. I always knew that those were some of the tallest trees, but I had no idea just how big they were! Seeing pictures of you guys standing next to them really puts it in perspective! Now I’m disappointed I didn’t make an effort to stop here when I was in California…

  12. My partner George keeps bugging me that we need to see Redwood Trees. He lived in the US in the 80’s and went to California just for these magnificent trees. I think we have to make a plan to visit Big Basin Redwoods State Park.

  13. I have always wanted to see this place! I love huge trees and their history. What a fantastic place to visit. That’s awesome you forgot to wear the right shoes. And I find it interesting about the rangers asking you to fill out cards so they can find you if needed.

  14. Wow! That’s a beautiful place, I have visited California several times but haven’t been to this park. Will definitely add this to my list. Thanks for the tips!


  15. Lovely! I lived in the Bay Area for 8 years, so I’m a bit embarrassed to admit I haven’t ever visited Big Basin… I did see some incredibly large Redwoods in Yosemite though! My kids often resist my ideas, but usually end up enjoying themselves in the end…

  16. In all my trips to California (for real…at least a dozen), I have yet to make it to see the redwoods! Great post, I will be sure and remedy this in the future 🙂

    1. I think it took us probably half a dozen trips before we made it to see them so I totally understand!! Hope you do make it to see them!

  17. I like how you address a possible need for a short visit. Not everyone has time to devote an entire day to an activity like exploring the Redwoods. Or maybe not everyone in your family would like it. It’s a good compromise to plan a one-hour visit! Stunning photos, by the way!

  18. The redwoods are truly something else! I can’t believe how big Big Basin is – I went to Muir Woods near San Francisco earlier this year and it seemed much smaller than this. Also, I’ve never seen the form you fill out about where you’re planning on hiking. It’s a thoughtful practice but does worry me a bit… like, how often does it happen that someone goes missing in there and rangers have to use the form to find them?? Yikes!

  19. WOW! Those look amazing. I’m always in awe of the natural beauty. When I visited SF we went to Muir Woods instead have you been there? How does this park compare? The photos you took look amazing!

  20. Love this short but awesome adventure you just had with your kids! 🙂 Spending quality time is indeed important… I also like the idea of the little form. Super handy and very helpful in case of emergency..

  21. I’ve totally wanted to come here but we didn’t have the time last time we were in california. must make it a priority the next time!

  22. The Redwoods are so majestic and beautiful. I got to see them at Muir Woods earlier this year, but would love to go back and check out Big Basin sometime too!

  23. I went to see the Redwoods around 10 years ago and was astounded by their size, I couldn’t quite believe what I was looking at! They made me feel incredibly humble 🙂

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