The park's beaches vary from long white-sand strands to cobblestone pocket coves. The water temperature is in the high 40s to low 50s (single digits to 10s Celsius) year-round, and it's often rough out there. Swimmers and surfers should be prepared for adverse conditions.
Crescent Beach is a long, sandy beach just 2 miles south of Crescent City that's a popular destination for beachcombing, surf fishing, and surfing. Just south of Crescent Beach is Enderts Beach, a protected spot with a hike-in campground and tide pools at its southern end.
The Crescent Beach Overlook, along Enderts Road (off U.S. 101 about 4 miles south of Crescent City), is one of the prettiest picnic sites on the coast. Pack a picnic lunch from Good Harvest Cafe, park at the overlook, lay your blanket on the grass, and admire the ocean view from atop your personal 500-foot bluff.
Most of the hiking trails throughout the national and state parks are off limits to mountain bikers. However, Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park has a 19-mile mountain-bike trail through dense forest, elk-filled meadows, and glorious mud holes. Parts of it are difficult, though, so beginners should sit this one out. Pick up a trail map at the Prairie Creek Visitor Center. Mountain bike rentals are available from Redwood Adventures north of Orick (tel. 866/733-9637; www.redwoodadventures.com) for $50 a day.
A few other mountain-bike loops are about 20 miles long, but they are serious thigh burners and make the one above look easy. These loops are the Holter Ridge Trail and Little Bald Hills. Also, mountain biking is permitted on the old U.S. 101, now the Coastal Trail within Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park.
The park recently completed the Davison Trail, which connects the Prairie Creek bike trails and the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway with U.S. 101 and the Holter Ridge Trail.
The Redwood Coast's streams are some of the best steelhead trout- and salmon-breeding habitat in California. Park beaches are good for surfcasting, but you should be prepared for heavy wave action. A California fishing license (available at local sporting goods stores) is required. Be sure to check with rangers about closures or other restrictions, which seem to change frequently. Rivers West Outfitters (tel. 707/482-5822 or 707/482-7775; www.riverswestoutfitters.com) offers guide service for about $150 per person per day. Redwood Adventures, north of Orick (tel. 866/733-9637; www.redwoodadventures.com), also offers deep-sea and jet-boat fishing trips on the Klamath River for $250 to $300 per person with a 2-person minimum.
Horseback Trail Rides
Equestrians can go on a variety of guided trail rides, including lunch and dinner trips, with Redwood Trails Horseback Riding (tel. 707/498-4837; www.redwoodhorserides.com) and Redwood Adventures (tel. 866/733-9637; www.redwoodadventures.com). Rates range from about $50 for a 1-hour ride to $250 for a full day.
Tours aboard a jet boat take visitors 22 miles upriver from the Klamath River Estuary to view bear, deer, elk, osprey hawks, otters, and more along the riverbanks. It's about $40 for a 45-mile scenic trip. Kids pay half-price, and children under 4 ride free. Tours run May through September. Contact Klamath River Jet Boat Tours, Klamath (tel. 800/887-JETS [887-5387] or 707/482-5822; www.jetboattours.com).
Whale-Watching & Bird-Watching
High coastal overlooks such as Klamath Overlook and Crescent Beach Overlook make great whale-watching outposts during the December-January southern migration and the March-April return migration. The northern sea cliffs also provide valuable nesting sites for marine birds such as auklets, puffins, murres, and cormorants. Birders will also love the park's coastal freshwater lagoons, which are some of the most pristine shorebird and waterfowl habitats left and are chock-full of hundreds of different species.
One of the most striking aspects of Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park is its herd of Roosevelt elk, usually found in the appropriately named Elk Prairie in the southern end of the park and other spots in the Orick area. These gigantic beasts can weigh up to 1,000 pounds and are most definitely not tame. The bulls carry huge antlers from spring to fall. Elk are also sometimes found at Gold Bluffs Beach -- it's an incredible rush to suddenly come upon them out of the fog or after a turn in the trail. Nearly 100 black bears also call the park home but are seldom seen. Unlike those in Yosemite, these bears avoid people.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.