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Which is better? Sequoia National Park vs. Redwood Forest

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Mike Blumer

From the sophistication of San Francisco and the high-tech achievements of San Jose to the ancient Sequoia forests and the unspoiled wilderness of Northern California’s many parks, it is a land of contrasts, cherished and reserved places visited by millions and described and loved by artists for centuries.

Every country or state has its own symbol. For Northern California and Oregon, it is the coastal sequoia, known as the redwood. These are the tallest trees on Earth! The best place to discover them is at Sequoia National Park and the Redwood Forest.

For planning purposes, we recommend you visit here and get ahead with your travel itinerary before heading out on the road. 

Although the giant Sequoia and Redwood are close relatives, they have many individual differences that set them apart.

For those still undecided – Sequoia National Park vs. Redwood Forest – let us take a look at the main differences and the top reasons to visit one over the other.

Redwood Forest

Ocean waves, giant trees, ferns, and blooming hills –  this is how the planet looked thousands of years ago and how it looks today in Redwood Forest. Here grow the tallest trees on Earth, the evergreen sequoias, whose reddish, rusty wood gave the park its name.

It was created in the middle of the last century to preserve the great forests that had been ruthlessly cut down for more than 100 years. But Redwood Forest is not just sequoias. 

On an area of 560 square kilometers, a variety of ecosystems coexist, from dense thickets of salt-tolerant firs to sunny prairie meadows.

In the original world of the tropical coniferous forest, mighty trunks stretch to the sky, and the sunlight struggles to break through the morning fog. 

The sea air and high humidity made the park an ideal place for the forest giants – under natural conditions, sequoias grow only here, on the Pacific coast of California, though they once covered almost all the land.

The park’s oldest sequoias are over 2,000 years old, the tallest rise more than 100 meters above the ground. There are dozens of hiking and biking trails through the preserve, with paths leading to freshwater lakes, Golden Cliffs beach, oak groves, and the banks of rivers and streams. 

Nearly 300 species of birds live in these mysterious forests. Rare Roosevelt deer, elk, and bears come to the road, and gray whales come ashore in winter.

The weather on the coast is changeable and unpredictable, so it is a good idea to bring rain gear and sturdy shoes with slip-resistant soles, as it gets very slippery when it rains.

Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park is situated in the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. Year-round sunny weather, gorgeous beaches, and plenty of activities for the whole family make Southern California one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world.

For more ideas on how to spend your time when visiting the south, use this itinerary.

After visiting the Sequoia National Park, you will never see larger trees. Giant sequoias are the largest trees in the world, not to be confused with redwoods, the tallest trees on this planet. 

The biggest sequoia in the world is named General Sherman, and the second largest – General Grant. The General Sherman tree reaches a whopping 1,487 cubic meters, is almost 84 meters tall, and has a base diameter of 11 meters – that is one big tree!

If you want to feel dwarfed and reminded of how small you are compared to the rest of the world, visit this national park. You can find it in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range, about 130 kilometers from Fresno in California. 

It was established as a national park in 1890 to protect trees from being cut down. This park, although now associated with Kings Canyon National Park, was the second national park to be established in America. 

In this huge forest, you can enjoy hiking, driving around, accommodation, and cave exploring. Moro Rock, the Crystal Cave, and Tokopah Falls are all must-sees if you have the chance to visit this location.  

Sequoia National Park is open all year round and at all times, although reservations are required for camping. The Kings Canyon Scenic Byway will introduce you to some of the most beautiful countrysides the park has to offer.

Day trips and overnight camping are the best way to experience all that this giant forest has to offer.

Reasons to visit Sequoia National Park over the Redwood Forest

Let us take a look at why you should visit a particular park, so you can make the choice that suits you best.

In many cases, its trees are wider than those of the Redwood Forest

Sequoia National Park also has some of the largest and longest living trees. There is a famous one on the road with a hole cut that you can drive through.

It is gorgeous

The road leading to it, as well as the scenery, is amazing, and what you find inside is definitely worth the visit.

Other great national parks are nearby

You have several options for national parks if you visit Sequoia. They include:

  • Kings Canyon
  • Joshua Tree
  • Sierra Nevada Mountains
  • Death Valley
  • Pinnacles National Park
  • Yosemite National Park

Each of these places is within a few hours’ drive of Sequoia National Park, and some of them, like the Sierra Nevada, are incredibly beautiful and adventurous.

The air is thinner and drier

Therefore, if you choose to head to Sequoia National Park, it will be easier for you to move around, as the air is much thinner and drier in this area.

There are other mountain regions nearby

All of this is close to the Sierra Nevada Mountain region, which is honestly one of the main reasons why Sequoia might be a better choice. The area is truly breathtaking, so don’t forget to bring your camera! There are stunning vistas everywhere.

Reasons to visit the Redwood Forest over Sequoia National Park

It is much easier to get to because it is right next to 101 Pacific Coastal Highway (PCH)

To save time, the Redwood Forest can also be explored by car. All you have to do to get to this place is exit it onto a road that runs parallel to the PCH and drive a little over 10 miles on it.

Trees are taller than in Sequoia

You will have to stop several times as you drive through this area, as the trees are breathtakingly huge. You can also go kayaking in this location, which could be a truly unique experience that will be hard to beat.

Peaceful and rarely busy

The landscape is beautiful and, in some places, almost alien. You will feel like a little person in a world of giant insects. It is silly to think about it, but when you get there, you will have the feeling of an alien planet. 

The air here is more humid, so if that is what you prefer, this is the place for you. 

There are also plenty of cool places nearby:

  • Fort Bragg (Glass Beach)
  • Fern Canyon
  • Natural Bridges
  • Secret Beach
  • Oregon Coast

It is right on the Pacific Ocean, so if you enjoy sandy beaches, they are close by, and you can swim in a gorgeous, scenic spot.

When it comes to beaches, there are several ideal snorkeling spots in the United States. Here is a look at the best snorkeling spots in the U.S:

There is more than one area in California where you will find redwood

There are redwood parks and locations all over Northern California, including around San Francisco and even on the southern Oregon coast.

So being able to see more mahogany areas and other beautiful places along the way gives tourists much more to see in general compared to the Sequoia.

Which one is better?

In this Sequoia National Park vs. Redwood Forest battle, the only thing to really consider is your starting point. Most people like to plan ahead, so depending on where your trip begins, it is recommended that you choose a place to visit.

If you are closer to the northern coast of California, choose the Redwood Forest, as this will be more in the way of your chosen route. However, if you are on the southwest coast and heading east, go for Sequoia. 

Of course, these two places are not the only ones worth visiting, and there are many other natural attractions to see nearby. If you are looking to have yourself an adventure, you will find plenty of exotic places in California as well. 

In case you need help planning your trip, you can always use our guide and learn how to plan an itinerary on your own.

Whether you are a history lover who wants to relive the explosions of the past, a romantic at heart who wants to enjoy endless views of the Pacific Ocean, or an adrenaline junkie who cannot wait to go to the Great North –  every state, nook, and cranny of the United States delights the eye with its charms.

For some essential tips on planning a road trip across the USA for beginners, visit this link. Pack your bags and grab your camera to take in the sights of some of the best places to visit in the United States!

Mike Blumer

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