Redwood National and State Parks

Redwood National Park is managed alongside three California State Parks, making the official name Redwood National and State Parks. Today these parks work together to protect old-growth redwood groves, open prairie lands, parts of two major rivers and 37 miles of California coastline.

The park’s namesakes, the redwood trees, are some of the tallest trees in the world. The tallest known redwood tree is 379 feet tall. And these trees aren’t just tall. They are also old. The average age of the redwood trees is 500-700 years old, but some redwoods can live to 2,000 years of age. Walking among these giant trees is a unique experience, similar to visiting an old-growth sequoia grove in Sequoia National Park.

There are many ways to experience the redwood groves in Redwood National and State Parks. But whether driving or walking, make sure you slow down to appreciate the beauty and majesty of these trees. And in between exploring the forests, make sure to stop along the California coast to appreciate the awe-inspiring pacific coast.

Dog-Friendly Activities at Redwood National and State Parks

Like most of the United State’s national parks, Redwood National and State Parks limit dogs’ activities inside the park boundaries. The regulations are pretty basic – dogs must be on a leash of 6 feet or less. All dog waste must be picked up and properly disposed of. And dogs are only allowed on roads, in campgrounds, at designated picnic areas, and on certain beaches.

However, one of the things that Redwoods National Park does well, is helping pet owners find the areas that will maximize a dog’s visit to this national park. The park’s pet brochure offers a list of 12 suggested pet walks. Not all of these are within the national park boundaries, but they are all within a few miles of the park.

During our visit, we took the dogs to two of the suggested walks. Both were dirt roads through redwood forests. Our first day, we hiked along Cal Barrel Road. Cal Barrel Road is 1.5 miles one way and is located off of the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway. The road is narrow and winds through huge old-growth redwoods. Car traffic is light on this road.

The other road we explored was Walker Road. Walker Road is in Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park and is another lightly driven dirt road. We enjoyed this walk with the dogs, but if you could only choose one of these dog-friendly dirt road hikes, choose Cal Barrel. The trees are larger and the undergrowth is thicker on Cal Barrel, creating a more photographic and awe-inspiring hike.

We also spent some time exploring Crescent Beach and watching the waves crash against the shore. It was a beautiful beach, and we enjoyed that the dogs were allowed on it.

Camping at Redwood National and State Parks

Redwood National and State Parks have 4 developed campgrounds, in addition to multiple backcountry campsites. The 4 developed campgrounds are Jedediah Smith, Mill Creek, Elk Prairie, and Gold Bluffs Beach. For more information about each of these campgrounds, visit the official campground site.

We did not make reservations ahead of time, so elected to utilize the national park’s camping directory and locate a campsite just outside of the national park. We ended up choosing Panther Flat in the Smith River National Recreation Area.

Located just a few miles away from Redwood National Park, Panther flat offered beautiful wooded campsites near a scenic river. And the campground was close enough for us to return to Walker Road to walk with the dogs the next morning.

Dog-Friendly Activities in the Surrounding Areas

There are many dog-friendly areas in California (and just north in Oregon). We drove through two beautiful national forests on our way to the coast from Lassen Volcanic National Park: Shasta-Trinity and Six Rivers. If you are looking for dog-friendly hiking in this area of California, consider seeing what these two national forests have to offer. However, due to time constraints, we did not stop to hike in either of these national forests. With limited time, we only explored one beach in California that was close to Redwood National and State Parks.

We had chosen Clam Beach as a destination because it had an advertised dog-friendly “campground on the beach.” Unfortunately, this ended up just being a parking lot behind the beach with no views of the ocean. And the parking lot cost $25/night + $2/dog. Being a bit frugal at this point in our trip, we ended up deciding to park overnight for the legal 8 hours at a nearby rest stop.

That being said, the day use area of Clam Beach was lovely. We were able to walk both dogs and let Sasha run off leash on this dog-friendly beach.

Final Thoughts

Redwood National and State Parks are a wonderful national park to visit with dogs. Even though you will be limited to hiking along roads, there are many dirt roads that offer immersion into old-growth redwood forests. Add to that the dog-friendly beaches, campgrounds, and scenic drives and you can still explore this park well with your furry family.

And once you are done exploring the dog-friendly areas of Redwood National and State Parks, use their wonderful resources to find even more dog-friendly trails outside of the park boundaries.

This was our final national park in California. And we were happy that it was a park that we could appreciate even with the dogs.

Which National Parks in California are the Most Dog-Friendly?

In case you haven’t read our other blog posts, here is a quick summary of which national parks we would visit with dogs again and which ones we would avoid if traveling with dogs. None of the national parks in California allow dogs on the hiking trails, so we couldn’t give any of these national parks 5 out of 5 paws. But we still enjoyed visiting several of these parks with our two dogs. 

Yosemite National Park (4 out of 5 paws)

Yosemite gets the #1 spot on our list of most dog-friendly national parks in California. Despite the fact that this was not our favorite national park to visit, it did have the most miles of dog-friendly trails of any of the California national parks. There are several dog-friendly locations. Wawona Meadows loop, for example, allows dogs to hike along the entire loop. And there are multiple miles of dog-friendly shared use paths in Yosemite Valley itself.

Personally, Yosemite was not our favorite national park for one main reason. Yosemite Valley has large amounts of tourists and traffic. Driving into the valley in mid-day felt a little like navigating rush our traffic. The crowds can make it difficult to truly enjoy this national park without getting off the main paths.

Overall, if you and your dog don’t mind crowds, don’t skip Yosemite. It is a beautiful national park! But if you are looking for a quiet experience in order to enjoy this natural beauty, don’t visit during busy times of year or times of the day.

Redwood National and State Parks (4 out of 5 paws)

As we stated above, we would visit Redwood National and State Parks again with the dogs. Despite the regulations surrounding where the dogs could be, we still felt like we were able to appreciate the coastal and forested beauty of this national park.

Joshua Tree National Park (4 out of 5 paws)

This national park is well worth driving through with your pup. And as long as you aren’t traveling in an RV that makes getting to the dirt roads difficult, there are plenty of dirt roads available for you and your dog to hike along.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park (4 out of 5 paws collectively, Sequoia alone gets 3 out of 5 paws)

We loved this pair of national parks. While dogs are not allowed on hiking trails within the parks, these national parks are surrounded by very dog-friendly national forests. And there is plenty to see from the roads within the national parks. If you are choosing only one of these national parks, we found Kings Canyon National Park to be slightly more dog-friendly as there were some dirt roads available on which to walk the dogs.

Death Valley National Park (3 out of 5 paws)

This national park is absolutely worth driving through, but I wouldn’t plan more than a day or two if your dogs are with. This national park is hot. This means you can’t leave dogs in a vehicle. Additionally, there are limited areas that dogs are allowed. There are, however, plenty of roads to explore together in your vehicle or walking along a roadside.

Lassen Volcanic National Park (2 out of 5 paws)

This park is also well worth driving through, but there is not much to do with your dog inside the park. Luckily, it is surrounded by Lassen National Forest. Like most national forests, Lassen National Forest has plenty of dog-friendly hiking trails available for you and your dog.

Pinnacles National Park (1 out of 5 paws)

We would avoid visiting this national park with our pets again. This was the least dog-friendly national park we visited in California. You can’t see much from the road and dogs are not allowed on hiking trails.

Channel Islands National Park (0 out of 5 paws)

While the coastal area around Channel Islands National Park is lovely, your dog is not allowed on any of the actual Channel Islands. So if you actually want to visit this national park, you will have to leave your dogs behind.

Do you have a different opinion on which national parks in California are the most dog-friendly? Please share your thoughts below. Our readers would love to hear about your own experiences visiting these national parks with your pets.




Kate is the writer of Pawsitively Intrepid. She has spent the last 9 years working full-time as a veterinarian, treating dogs and cats. But as of June 2023, she is taking a year to travel with her dog, volunteer, and work on some passion projects.

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