Family Vacation: The Redwoods

I had a big birthday this past fall and more than anything, I wanted to be hike beneath enormous trees with my family. I wanted to be overwhelmed by God’s amazing earth. I wanted to be humbled by it all. Does this make sense?

We planned a great trip, one which I would recommend to anyone. We flew out to San Francisco and drove 6 hours north to the Redwood National Forest. We rented a cabin for 3 nights and soaked up nature.

We landed in San Francisco on a truly remarkable October day. Lots of sun and about 65 degrees. We headed over the Golden Gate bridge and immediately satisfied our hunger in Sausalito at Sushi Ran, which may be the BEST sushi we’ve had anywhere.

Now, I need to fess up about something. I really thought that our cabins were just 4 hours north of San Fran. I Google-mapped it, and I accidentally plugged in the wrong address. So, I felt a bit guilty as we left the airport on our long car trip, after already spending 5 hours in the air. But, it was what is was. In the end, it didn’t matter as we’d all happily drive 6 hours again for the adventure we got!

We stayed at Elk Meadow Cabins which is located right smack in the middle of Redwood National Park. These are perfectly delightful cabins that are close to many activities: hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, kayacking, fishing and more. I found out about these cabins while reading an article in National Geographic. I figured if it was good enough for National Geographic, it was good enough for us!


Cabins and elk at Elk Meadow Cabins

Before we even hiked in the Redwood National Forest, we took a short ride with our guide to see this view:

The northern CA coastline. This is where the Klamath River meets the Pacific Ocean. The salmon fishing here is awesome if you come in September. We even saw a whale!


And we never quite adjusted to our awe at these:


So just how big are these trees?


For perspective, look at these tree trunks with my kids.


And another photo showing just how tiny we look in comparison to these trees.


Seriously, when I say big, I mean big. As in Big Tree (in the Redwood National Park).

I dare say that even the most jaded teenager would be in awe. Our kids range in age from 8-13. Our 8 year old did great on the hikes, the bike rides and horseback riding. I think he would have done just fine younger, but not younger than 6.

Getting ready for our trail ride.


If you go, do get some mountain bikes and ride. It’s as if you are in your own personal movie. It’s that magical.


The moss covering the trees is straight out of a fairy tale.


Every morning and afternoon greeted us with a gorgeous display of color.

From where we stayed, we had access to the beach (10 minute drive), the redwoods, and fern canyon. There seemed to be micro-climates at each turn.

An afternoon at the beach.


We had lots of opportunities to enjoy the new iPhone 5 panorama feature!


Little jelly fish

Near the beach was Fern Canyon. Of anything I wish I could re-do on this trip, it would be to have allotted more time for this gorgeous canyon. We should have taken 2 more hours to explore it fully. These 50 ft walls are covered in moss and ferns dripping with water. It’s amazing. If it looks familiar, it’s where¬†Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World was filmed.

Entering Fern Canyon

Did I mention the Elk? In the meadow, on the beach, outside our cabin… they are everywhere!


October showed off lots of pretty leaves. We lucked out on the weather as apparently it can be either gorgeous in October, or pretty darn cold.

One thing to note: for all of our meals, besides that Sushi Ran, we cooked at our cabin. So, be prepared to stop by a local grocery store and load up. This trip is not about eating gourmet meals and dressing up. It is about connecting as a family to each other and the sheer wonder of nature.

America is blessed with gorgeous national, state and city parks. Don’t forget to include them in your vacation plans!