If you’ve never taken a trip to Northern California to visit the great Redwoods National Park, you’ll understand why we’re such know we’re such huge fans of this place. So, when it came time to plan a 4th of July adventure, my family and I decided to head north and visit the redwoods.

If you ask any tourist, Half Dome, Lake Tahoe, and the Golden Gate bridge are probably the top three picks for Northern California’s most beloved icons, but for me it’s tough to beat the beauty and mystique of the coastal redwoods. In a land of ever-moving fog, intensely wet winters, and ferns big enough to hide VW Beatles, the redwoods grandeur seems otherworldly.

In case you aren’t convinced to check this place out, read on to discover my top five favorite things about Northern Californias incredible Redwood forests.

Otherworldly redwood forest beauty at our fingertips

Elk are to the Redwood Parks what Buffalo are to Yellowstone.  Keep your eyes out around Orick and Redwood Creek for large herds. Like Buffalo, Elk are not to be approached on foot, regardless of how docile they may appear.

Maybe it’s the noise, or lack thereof in the heart of an old growth grove, that makes the experience so unique; walking through a 1,000 year old redwood grove is entering one of earth’s greatest and quietest cathedrals.

It is a trek of winding roads, ever-present landslides and unfulfilled promises of bigfoot to make into the heart of redwood country, but a trek enjoyed by both young and old. The Avenue of Giants, Newton B. Drury Scenic Byway and Howland Hill Road are some of the National Parks most rewarding drives for those who prefer to stay in their vehicles. And for the kids who want to run, climb, jump and roll, the redwoods soft moist soil is the perfect playground.

In 1994, the California State Parks and National Parks joined together in management of the North Coast Redwoods creating a patchwork of parks that extend from around Willits to the Oregon border. The National Parks website and the Save the Redwoods League have excellent information and maps to help plan your trip. Poison Oak is present in the southern parks and as you move inland up north but is for the most part easily detectable and avoidable.

Often what’s at your feet is as impressive as what’s above your head when in the redwoods.

You only need to spend a day or two in the redwoods to find your own favorite spot but some of the must sees that everyone heading to a National Park seems to ask about are Avenue of the Giants and the giant trees of the Bull Creek drainage in the South; Fern Canyon (must see of the must sees) and Lady Bird Johnson Grove in the National Park proper; and Howland Hill Drive and Stout Grove (considered most photogenic) around Crescent City. But to only go the popular places when you’re in the redwoods would be missing the mystique of the redwoods all