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Redwoods Road Trip – An Introduction

For the past couple of years we’ve been taking some time each summer to explore the national park system. This year, we had to be in Portland, Oregon for a wedding the weekend following the Independence Day Holiday, so we decided to couple this joyous occasion with a trip to the Redwood National and State Park in Northern California.

Redwood National and State Park

Regular readers know that I loathe a good road trip. Most people say a road trip gives them an unparalleled sense of freedom, for me it is the opposite. I feel trapped. I feel completely out of control. I’m just not a car nor a road trip guy. That being said, you can’t really fly into Redwood National Park, and it would be cost prohibitive to fly from Chicago into the smaller airports near the park, then fly to Portland then back to Chicago. So a road trip it is.

We started by flying into San Francisco, staying a couple of days, then driving up to Mendocino Country, where we have an uncle with a home where we could stay for a couple days. The trip continued up the coast to the Redwood National and State Parks, then ultimately up to Portland for the wedding, ending with our often taken United Flight 464 from PDX to ORD (that afternoon flight feels like home to me, since I’ve probably taken in at least two hundred times over the past two decades.

Some of the trip isn’t worth writing about, like the flights to and from Chicago, and some things that are worth writing about, don’t warrant an entire post, so I’ll end up grouping things together, hopefully these posts can help you plan a trip through this beautiful part of the country. Over the next few weeks I’ll write about:

Our trip wasn’t a luxury vacation, but a chance to see friends, family and explore a beautiful and based on our visit, extremely underutilized part of the National Park System.

Have you explored this park?  What are your favorite things to do in San Francisco or Portland?


  1. I lived in Northern California for 37 years. Yes, I had explored that park several times. I did the train excursion, Forest Steam Train to Bear Mountain once. It’s a historical tour and experiencing a piece of the past. You mentioned Mendocino. I hope they have preserved the beauty of that place. I used to go there just for a weekend getaway. I loved the ocean front hotels with English gardens right outside your room. I loved the quaint eclectic shops and restaurants that transport you back in time.
    Thank you for your travel blog that gives so much comprehensive information as well as inviting beautiful photos.

    • Tim says:

      Thank you for the note! This was my first trip to Mendocino and while I can’t comment on how it may have changed, it seems exactly like you describe it. A small, beautiful ocean side town. We had a lovely time, but like all towns with a tourist bent, you get the same kind of shops (local artists, olive oil store, etc). We weren’t there to shop, so it didn’t bother us. Cheers!

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