10 amazing redwoods holiday adventures

Train rides, hikes, biking, stargazing, and snowshoeing

Majestic redwood forests are fantastic places to experience the magic of the holiday season, creating unforgettable memories with your loved ones. There’s something for everyone, from wheelchair-accessible train rides to challenging backcountry snow adventures, even activities for your dogs. Here are activities from the towering coast redwood forests to the snowy giant sequoia groves.


A view of passengers on an open-air train as it rolls through a redwood forest.
Roaring Camp Railroad’s Redwood Forest Steam Train rolls through the Santa Cruz Mountains. Photo by Jennifer Charney

Holiday Tree Walk and Steam Train Ride

Various times. Dec. 2-3, 9-10, 16-17, 2023
Felton (near Santa Cruz)
$29.95-$44.95 per person
Dogs allowed

Ride the wheelchair-accessible Redwood Forest Steam Train over trestles, through towering redwood groves and up a winding narrow-gauge grade to the summit of Bear Mountain as conductors narrate the history of Roaring Camp, the railroad, and the forest. Sip hot drinks while greeting Santa Claus.

 

Towering ancient redwoods line a wet road.
Magnificent redwoods line Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway, which runs for 10 miles through Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Photo by Christopher, Adobe Stock

Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway Hike and Bike Day

Monthly on first Saturdays through June 1, 2024
Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, Humboldt County
Free of charge

Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway runs for 10 miles past thousands of acres of stunning, old-growth redwoods. Hike and Bike Day on the parkway is a chance to experience the redwoods’ majesty at a slower pace. The paved parkway closes to vehicle traffic so visitors can hike, bike, skate, and walk dogs. Parking for this special day is located on the south end of the parkway near the Prairie Creek Visitor Center.

 

a cluster of ladybugs on a log
Hibernating ladybugs gather in the redwoods. Photo by Emily Burns.

Ladybugs in the redwoods hike

10:30 a.m.- 12:30 p.m. Dec. 9, 2023
Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park, Oakland
Free of charge

Join East Bay Regional Park District at the Canyon Meadow Staging Area for a 3-mile hike to seek thousands of hibernating ladybugs among the redwoods. In the fall, the convergent lady beetles from the Bay Area lowlands fly with the prevailing winds to the east, settling down in the East Bay hills to hibernate. In Reinhardt Redwood Regional Park, thousands of the cute, red, black-spotted ladybugs can often be found huddling in eye-catching groups from about late October to mid-February.

 

A General Grant sign stands in front of a giant sequoia illuminated by the sun. Smaller trees surround the giant sequoia.
The General Grant Tree in Kings Canyon National Park was dedicated as the Nation’s Christmas Tree. Photo by Jeremy Thompson, Flickr Creative Commons.

98th Annual Trek to the Nation’s Christmas Tree

9 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 10, 2023
Grant Grove, Kings Canyon National Park (east of Fresno)
$125 per person
Reservations: 559-875-4575 or [email protected]

Join Sanger District Chamber of Commerce on chartered buses for a quarter-mile trek to the General Grant Tree, an ancient giant sequoia officially dedicated as the Nation’s Christmas Tree on April 28, 1926, by the United States Department of the Interior. The event includes a two-course brunch with bottomless mimosas at School House Restaurant & Tavern. The bus is not accessible to wheelchairs.

 

People standing next to giant Sequoia tree
Sequoia National Park is a thrilling place to snowshoe. Photo by Max Forster, @maxforsterphotography

Snowshoeing, stargazing, backcountry skiing

Sequoia Parks Conservancy offers amazing winter adventures in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks (east of Fresno), including stargazing in one of the state’s darkest areas, tours of the Giant Forest and its famous, towering giant sequoias, and backcountry skiing and snowshoeing to a cozy cabin. Prices vary.

 

The Skunk Train
The Skunk Train departs Willits for a holiday tour of the redwoods. Photo by Julie Martin.

Christmas Tree Skunk Train

Various times through Dec. 31, 2023
Willits, Mendocino County
$59.95-$94.95 per person; $10.95 per dog

Board the wheelchair-accessible Skunk Train through the coast redwoods for seasonal treats and decor on a journey to Mr. Skunk’s Giant Christmas Tree, a decorated redwood along the line, which also serves as the workshop for Santa Mr. Skunk.

 

A trail through a redwood forest with vibrant green leaves lit by the golden sunlight
Guided walks visit the Redwood Grove at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park. Photo by Veronica Miranda

Guided walks among ancient redwoods

2 p.m. Saturdays, Dec. 2, 2023, through May 2024
Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, Humboldt County
Free of charge

Join a park guide starting at the Prairie Creek Visitor Center for one-hour family friendly and educational walks through the mind-blowing ancient coast redwoods of Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.

Noon, Saturdays and Sundays in December 2023
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park near Santa Cruz
Free of charge

Join park staff members for a two-hour, 1-mile walk among the spectacular ancient trees of Redwood Grove, which draws travelers from around the world. Reserve your spot.

 

 

 

About the author

Jennifer Charney, Senior Manager of Marketing Communications, leads the production of many Save the Redwoods League publications. She brings a lifelong love of nature to her role.

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