If You Have Only 1 Day

Stop at one of the information centers for a free map, which will detail the parks' main attractions.

Next, take the detour along U.S. 101 called the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway, which passes through groves of redwoods and elk-filled meadows before leading back onto the highway 8 miles later. Or try one of two other spectacular routes: the Coastal Drive, which winds through stands of redwoods and offers grand views of the Pacific, or Howland Hill Road, an unforgettable journey through an unbelievably beautiful old-growth redwood forest.

The best way to experience the redwoods is on foot, so be sure to fit in time for a brief hike or two. The short Fern Canyon Trail leads through a fantastically lush grotto of ferns clinging to 50-foot-high vertical canyon walls. Lady Bird Johnson Grove Loop is an easy self-guided tour that winds around a glorious lush grove of mature redwoods. And the best trail of all is Boy Scout Tree Trail, through a lush, cool, damp forest brimming with giant ferns and majestic redwoods.

If you prefer to see the area from the water, take a Klamath River Jet Boat Tour (tel. 800/887-5387 or 707/482-7775; www.jetboattours.com) up the Klamath River Estuary to view bear, deer, elk, and more along the riverbanks, or a kayak tour around the Klamath River Estuary or other waters.

If you're determined to see some of the world's tallest trees, make your first stop the Kuchel Visitor Center near Orick. Here you can get a permit to travel the Tall Trees Trail. This 4-hour drive-and-hike expedition is limited to 50 permits each day, so get yours early. It's an experience you'll never forget.

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.