Big-Tree Camping In The Redwoods near Crescent City CA
A little inland from Crescent City CA, you come to a section of the Redwood National and State Parks that many travelers don’t get around to visiting, named after Jedediah Smith. Go. Better still, give yourself a couple of days, camp and spend some relaxing time just being with the big trees. Paddle in the Smith River, walk among the giants, lounge around the campfire. No rush.
Camping in the redwoods here makes special sense if you’re traveling south on the Redwood Highway (Hwy 199) out of Grants Pass OR.
Two recommendations for camping
Muddy Boots has two campground recommendations on this highway, about 20 minutes apart. Both stay open year round.
Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park Campground
Jedediah Smith may be one of the more awesome locations you’ll ever have a campsite. Anywhere. Large trees tower over head: they’ll dwarf you while you linger at your picnic table. In the sometimes dense understory beside your spot, young trees and ferns are nurtured by the bigger ones. Hang out for a while, and you can feel the magic of the trees.
From here, during the warmer months, you can cross the Smith River on foot and walk around the Stout Grove, a collection of very large-diameter redwoods.
This is camping in the redwoods at its best
Downside: A night at Jedediah Smith State Park Campground costs a whopping $35 in 2016. Because the Redwoods state parks and the National Park Service have a special cooperation in this area, though, NPS Senior Pass Holders get the reduced rate of $17.50 per night.
If that aggressive sum is a deal-breaker for you, you’ll want Panther Flat Campground: not quite “camping in the redwoods”, but close.
USFS Panther Flat Campground
Panther Flat is a USFS campground on the banks of the Smith River, along Highway 199 OR-CA, the “Redwood Highway”. This one’s a gem, set in lush and healthy forest with big trees and profuse underbrush. Open when other campgrounds are closed for the season, quieter than Jedediah Smith. The spots are large, private and protected. Aaaaand unlike most every USFS campground, this one has showers.
Yippee! It’s Senior-Pass-friendly
Since this is a USFS campground, your NPS Senior Pass will get you 1/2-price camping here. (Read Location, Location: Public Campground Savvy for Adventuring Seniors first if you need pricing basics).
Oh, almost forgot: Panther Flat has a swimming hole.
If you are leisurely about breaking camp, either Jedediah Smith or Panther Flat is a suitable base for spending a day exploring Crescent City, tsunami-central USA. Check out Point St George (via North Pebble Beach Drive), Battery Point Lighthouse, the seafood, and the crescent moon-shaped beach.
If you’re driving from Grants Pass OR on the Redwood Highway, Muddy Boots suggests you add 50% to any Google projection of the trip length. The Redwood Highway is a hard drive: a winding narrow road along a canyon wall above the Wild and Scenic Smith River. The section south of Cave Junction is prone to landslides. Muddy Boots does not recommend attempting this stretch in the dark. Gas up in Cave Junction; carry plenty of drinking water.
Photo credits for Camping in the Redwoods. Featured image, Jedediah Smith Redwoods, Stout Grove CA: CC BY-SA 2.0 by Paul Hamilton via Flickr. Jedediah Smith State Park campground: CC0 National Park Service. Bridge across the Smith River, Jedediah Smith State Park: CC0 State of California Parks. Panther Flat panel: courtesy US Forest Service. Redwood Highway: CC BY-SA 3.0 by Acroterion via Wikimedia. Map: screen shot from Google Maps.