Outside Redwood National Park

The North Coast's largest city is Eureka, population 27,000 and the Humboldt County seat. Its Old Town has an alluring waterfront boardwalk, several excellent restaurants and shops, and the region's largest selection of lodgings. It borders and forms a small metro area with the progressive college town of Arcata, just to the north, which has a handsome little downtown and a bevy of hip cafés and bars. Both Eureka and Arcata make good practical bases for touring the South and Middle portions of Redwood National and State Park, especially if you want to stay someplace with plenty of other diversions.

A quieter and absolutely stunning little gem of a town that's 15 miles closer to the park than Arcata, Trinidad has a cove harbor that attracts fishermen and photographers and a few notable dining and lodging options. Once you enter the park, as you continue north up U.S. 101 you'll come first to tiny Orick, which has but 300 residents and just a few businesses, and then to slightly larger Klamath, where you'll discover a handful of worthwhile places to stay and eat as well as a modern casino resort operated by the local Yurok tribe.

Crescent City, close to its Del Norte Redwoods and Jedediah Smith Redwoods state parks, is the largest town (population about 6,800) up north and home to the Redwood National and State parks headquarters as well as a good supply of restaurant and lodging options. Though it curves around a beautiful stretch of ocean, rain and bone-chilling fog often prevail.

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Fodor's The Complete Guide to the National Parks of the USA: All 63 parks from Maine to American Samoa

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