Family Camping in Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park

Camping in the redwoods of California is not something I ever thought I would have the opportunity to do. I had always wanted to see the famous redwood forests but never imagined it would become a reality. So I jumped at the chance to get up close and personal with them when we planned our big road trip in 2013.


Highways Vs Interstates


We didn’t want to miss the opportunity to see more of beautiful northern California so we left the interstate and spent a good portion of our trip on the scenic California Coastal Highway 101. There’s a time and place for interstate travel and believe me, we’ve spent our fair share of time on them during our previous cross-country road trips but there’s nothing like a state highway for gorgeous scenery.


Camping in the majestic California redwoods at Jedediah Smith State Park


In an effort to save money on our road trip, we decided camping along the redwood highway sounded like something to check off of our bucket list. After researching the best camping in the redwood forest we settled on Jedediah Smith State Park in northern California.


Best Tent Camping in the Redwoods


The park itself was amazing. We had giant trees literally right outside of our tent. I know there are a lot of camping sites in the redwoods but this has to be some of the best family camping in California. We’ve camped in fairy-tale settings before but nothing compares to the majesty of the redwoods.  My only regret is that we didn’t take any high quality photos and that we weren’t able to stay longer.


Family Camping in Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park

photo credit:


Unfortunately, my nice camera was out of commission during this road trip and all I had was a really crappy phone camera. But I’ll share my crappy pictures of the redwoods anyway. Because even crappy redwood pictures are impressive.


Family Camping in Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park


But don’t you know I wish I had a high quality photo of this! The kids loved camping at Jedediah Smith State Park. The whole park is a bit mystical and magical, perfect for little imaginations.


Family Camping in the California Redwoods at Jedediah Smith State Park

Family Hiking at Jedediah Smith State Park


There were various family friendly hiking trails within the campgrounds. One that went right beside our campsite led to the beautiful Smith river. When our kids get a bit older I would love to try family kayaking but for now we’re happy skipping rocks.


Family Camping in Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park


Bear Safety When Camping


The many signs giving advice for bear safety tips at this park had us a little on edge. We’ve never camped in a place where such serious bear awareness is stressed. There was a big, metal box for locking away any food or things with a strong scent. And signs imploring you not to leave such things in your car overnight.


We were so nervous that when a deer snuck up on us on a trail, my daughter screamed and scared us all to death. All survived the deer encounter. And we never saw any sign of a bear.


Drive Through Redwoods


When we packed up the next day and headed further south, we stopped several times to explore more of the redwood forests along Highway 101. We really wanted to drive through a redwood and there are several drive-through redwoods to choose from in Northern California. Unfortunately you need a small or mid-sized car to pull this off. Our big SUV with luggage on top was way too big to fit in the trees. Oh well.


Family Camping in Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park


The Redwood Highway


What I really loved about the redwood highway is that it wasn’t crowded and didn’t feel commercial at all. There were so many places where you could simply pull off the side the road and explore. Maybe one day we can go back and I can take good photos!


Family Camping in Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park


Have you ever visited the California redwoods?



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  1. The giant trees are fascinating, must have been a wonderful experience and yes the quality of the photos does not at all take away from the beauty of the giant trees.

  2. I have heard so much about the Redwood trees and your pictures make my imagination come alive. Hope to see it some day.

  3. I’m so excited seeing your photos. We’re taking our boys to the Redwoods, Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite in April. It’s going to wow them! (and your pictures capture all of the fun and grandeur, they’re just not fancy) :)

  4. These look amazing! I would love to see in person some day.

  5. Love, love, love the Redwoods. I did this drive with my son when he was about 7 years old. Did you do the drive thru tree?

  6. Wow, that’s really an amazing place ! These huge trees shall really impress.

  7. Love the redwoods, but haven’t camped there yet! We will have to put that on our list for the summer.

  8. Glad you didn’t have a bear encounter. That would have been a bummer ;-)

  9. Love the Redwoods! Big Basin and Big Sur are also amazing places for camping!

  10. What an incredible place and amazing memories you’ll have. I’m from the UK and we spent 3 weeks travelling california last year. I loved the Redwoods in Big Sur. just wish we’d had more time to explore everywhere over there. Visiting from #whatevertheweather so yay a new blog to follow x

  11. chloelifeunexpected says:

    Oh wow despite the quality your pictures are gorgeous. The place is so beautiful. I would love to stay somewhere like here. It looks so peaceful and that first tree is huge!!!! How cool that you can sit in it. Thank you so much for sharing your adventures with #whatevertheweather x

  12. That looks amazing! Your photos are great, it’s so impressive, and at least you’ve got an excuse to go back! One day I would love to camp somewhere like that, although, I won’t lie, the bears do put me off a little :) #Whatevertheweather

  13. It looks like an awesome place to camp! No wonder your daughter scared you all though, think I would be scared too if there was such stringent bear security, I’ve never been anywhere with bears before! Love that photo of your son in the tree, what an amazing look out point. Thanks so much for linking up to #Whatevertheweather :) x

    • We have bears in the south east where we’re from but I’ve never seen one in the wild and it’s not a concern when camping. Lol.

  14. adventuredawg79 says:

    We camped there last summer,it’s incredible. We had one of the sites right on the Smith River. We also took a similar West Coast trip too. Thanks for sharing, it sounds like it really was an epic adventure!

    Cheryl –