Redwood National Park Camping in a Van | Campsites, Activities & Cost
Redwood National and State Parks is not only a California biosphere reserve but also a Unesco World Heritage Site. Travel to this majestic part of northern California, where you will be able to see some of the largest trees in the world and enjoy some breathtaking scenery.
If that’s not enough to entice you to camp there, what about doing it in a luxury van rental? Drive through this 139,000-acre complex, which is home to some of the last protected areas of coastal redwood trees. At night bunker down and camp at one of the beautiful designated sites along the way, before heading off to explore the next day.
Since Redwood National and State Parks is such an expansive area, it’s best to go prepared. Here you will find all the camping recommendations, activities, and cost information that you will need to have an incredible travel experience.
Redwood’s Camping Locations for Vans
When people refer to ‘The Redwoods’, it isn’t just your average state park. This nature complex was established in 1994 with the goal of managing and stabilizing the four surrounding forest areas as one. The resulting Redwood National and State Parks (RNSP) is therefore made up of four parks.
- Redwood National Park
- Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
- Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park
- Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
There are Redwoods National Park camping options available in each of these parks, but if you are heading here in a van, you will need to stay at the developed campground options available. These are the only ones supporting van and RV camping, although none of them offer hook-up spots.
Jedediah Smith Campground
This campground is located in the Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, approximately 360 miles north of San Francisco (735 miles from Los Angeles). You can drive up straight to the campsite in your luxury van and set up at one of the 86 tent or RV sites available.
Mill Creek Campground
While camping in Redwood National Park, you need to visit Mill Creek campground (340 miles from San Francisco and 710 miles from Los Angeles). Sleep under tall maple, alder, and young coastal redwood trees while being only a couple of miles away from the ocean.
It is located in Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park and is the largest developed campground available with 145 tent or RV sites available.
Elk Prairie Campground
If you are a fan of animal spotting, Elk Prairie should be on your list. Here you will be able to enjoy the beautiful coastal redwoods as well as grazing black-tailed deer and plenty of elk.
This campsite is open all year round and has 75 spots available. What’s even better, it’s located in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park and is only 320 miles away from San Francisco. If you’re traveling from LA, it’s quite a bit further at just under 700 miles.
Gold Bluffs Beach Campground
The last option is also found in Prairie Creek and is just 2 miles further than Elk Prairie Campground. This is the smallest developed campground available, with only 26 spots.
Enjoy the seclusion while you experience grazing elk and the wild pacific coastline. You will also have easy access to an isolated stretch of beach, Fern Canyon.
Best Redwood Camping Activities
Even though driving and staying in a luxury van is a great experience on its own, it’s always worthwhile savoring some of the local activities, especially when in RNSP.
The expansive terrain is host to a wide range of activities, suitable for all different types of interests. These are some of the main things to do when venturing into California’s redwood forest.
- Hiking: There are over 170 miles of trail systems to explore when redwood camping in Northern California.
- Cycling: With 50 miles of designated cycling routes, you’ll be spoiled for choice. You can choose from calm paved routes or more exciting single tracks.
- Kayaking: The Smith River is the main source of aquatic activities. Head out onto the water with an experienced park ranger guide and explore the pristine waters surrounded by unbelievable beauty.
- Ranger-led Programs: If you’re looking for something more educational (or suitable for the whole family), why not try one of the ranger-led activities. These are free, informative, and a great activity for all ages.
Redwood Forest Camping Costs
If you’re convinced that camping in the Redwoods is for you, then it’s time to consider the cost. As a van camper, you will need to stay at one of the developed campgrounds. The pricing is as follows:
- Standard camping fee: $35.00 per night
- California State pass holders: $17.50 per night (disabled pass) or free (veterans pass)
Considering that all of these campgrounds offer hot showers, restrooms, fire pits, picnic tables, and access to the vast natural area, the standard camping fee is well worth it.
Van Camping in Redwood National Park
With so many great campsites to visit, a van trip to Redwood National Park is an adventure worthwhile adding to your bucket list. Get away from city life for a bit and break free in some of the oldest forests in the world.
You’ll be surrounded by such stunning scenery you might struggle to leave. If you just can’t bear to end your holiday so soon, you can extend it with a van trip to Yosemite National Park – another one of California’s natural gems.