Van logo

As we visit US state parks we will write a review with detailed information you can’t get without actually visiting. Get the inside scoop.

Do you want to travel? Check out this temperature gauge tool to choose US destinations based on your personal criteria for the perfect temperatures any week of the year.

Week 3 Full Time

Camper Van

Are We Finding a Groove in the Redwood Groves?

Van in the redwoods

🚐  We’ve Made our Dream Come True. After several years of dreaming of building a camper van to travel in, we bought a 2020 AWD Ford Transit and built our travel home on wheels. Check our website home 🏠 to see more articles about our build and other related posts. As we embark to explore from sea to shining sea, our goal is to connect with people and places through visiting, service and good will, experience freedom and bonding through traveling together and unveil the spirit of uniting with nature’s divine details. 

Last week we got to surround ourselves with majestic scenery of the great Sequoias, the beautiful city of San Francisco with amazing friends and the start to the stunning northern coast of California with its expanse and wildlife.

As we sought to find the tallest, or oldest redwood trees and which groves to visit to find them in, we also seek to find our groove in our third week of full timing in our camper van travels. This week we have surpassed our longest trip to date and the most days in a row.

Amongst redwoods

The Sequoia’s were much easier to plan a visit as the most prominent trees are in one place and all of the biggest trees are conveniently labeled on the map in one park.

We thought that planning to see the most impressive, tallest redwood trees would be an easy trip to lay out as well. However, I spent a lot of time researching because there are many different parks with many different groves and the tallest and/or oldest, widest are not plotted out on a map or on any specific trail to seek.

Similarly, on our third week, we figured that we would have all of our wrinkles of living full time in our van and of our trip figured out. We thought we also would easily be able to figure out a routine and have a neat map layed out.

Even though we couldn’t quite figure out the “best” trails or spots to witness the “tallest” or most impressive redwoods, we had a beautiful week filled with stunning scenery and experiences of our gifted world of wildlife, people and places where we hiked and stayed.

Redwood tree base

Likewise, with a little more experience and some adjustments as we go, it has been easier than we both thought on the road in our mini home on wheels.

We’ve figured out our RV shuffle, skinnying by each other inside our tiny house, shopping for food and getting everything to fit so well and getting the optimum timing on showers so that things will dry the best.

Working out these types of things have been the easiest to adjust to.

Shower setup

The hardest part has been scheduling time with cell service to make phone calls to work on our blog, research online where we want to travel to next, and making reservations.

Normally I like things planned out well ahead of time, but deciding on where we will travel to next has been fun and exciting. Even though we’re planning out only a few days at a time with an occasional week ahead reservation, we’re still working out giving family and friends notice on when we will arrive for a visit or a stay.

🗓1st Night, Jenner, California

Harvest Hosts, Fort Ross Store

We requested to stay here a day or two in advance and received approval very quickly. It’s the only store or gas for miles along the coast.

We checked in to get our dashboard registration for our window and instructions on where to park for the night stay. We purchased some groceries and asked on where the best places to stop for a view or short hike. The store clerk suggested two things just up the road.

California coast
We had a peak of the coast for our overnight stay in the parking lot of the store.

First, we headed to Stillwater Cove Regional Park in Jenner, CA. It was just up the road from the store and we stopped and parked for a $7 day use fee.

We wanted to fill up on fresh water for our 20 gallon tank but were disappointed after paying and seeing that their water was contaminated.

It was not a loss though, because there was a unique and short walk through a deep redwood forest. This enchanting trail brought us right to a sea cove with huge rock outcroppings just past the shore.

Northern California beach
Small seashells and sea plants dotted the black sandy beach. 

After our leisure beach stop, we came back to the van to freshen up. I was glad we have everything we need and want in the van so I could dress up for the high-end occasion on the fly at the Timber Cove Resort in Jenner, California.

This was the suggestion for a restaurant with a good view and the only place to eat nearby. What a pleasant surprise for a last-minute night out!

Dinner view

There were multiple views and trails. We had happy hour take out food from the bar so we could go out onto the patio to eat where the stunning, best views of the rock clustered ocean front was.

I had BBQ salmon wings which were just the right amount for a light dinner and so yummy. Bill had a burger and fries, of course!

Couple enjoying the sunset
I took this picture of a couple and shared it with them via Airdrop.

We watched the sun lower over the horizon, creating dancing light through the salty air over the rocky islands. 

As we made our way up the coast, I looked for viewpoints or places of interest to stop along the way to satiate our quest for more. Google maps had these next locations.

Point Arena Lighthouse and museum was an interesting and educational place to view more coastline. We paid $10 for two of us for the museum and skipped the $10 lighthouse tour because it was pretty foggy and we couldn’t see very much.


I also saw the Point Marina Sea Lion Rocks location on Google marked with a camera icon. Even though it was listed as closed we took the turn for the quick stop off the road from the lighthouse for the parking and trail.

We were not disappointed!! We also met a small group of bird watchers and since we brought our binoculars we were scoping the details of the ocean scape for harbor seals and the birds aflutter.

Ocean rocks
Flowers on rock
Waves crashing on rocks

There were no sea lions but there were stunning rock islands and caves. Fields were filled with wildflowers and bird activity. 

🗓 2nd & 3rd Night, Philo, California

Hendy Woods State Park

Azalea Campground

We called in the morning to find out how many first-come first served sites they had as California has a 48 hour online or call ahead reservation time frame. The cancellations are released at 8:00 am the morning of.

This is a good way to find last minute campgrounds within 48 hours.  They said they had 10 sites available so we knew that we had a pretty good chance of getting there in a couple of hours to book a nice state park for our next overnight. 

Tall trees

We did have one Harvest Host request that never got back to us so we were left hanging a little (however, that is how we are going about finding places to stay the night anyway, within a day or two or three ahead of time, sometimes more).  It is one way to score good spots at popular locations.  

Hendy Woods State park is a California park with two small old growth redwood groves to walk through. These were perfect short hikes for us this time around since we wanted to catch up on our computers.

We walked the Big Hendy Grove and Little Hendy Grove trails and a river bank.

These were small but beautiful groves of redwood on another earthy, shaded path filled with awe and wonder at what the ancient trees have withstood and filled in their measure of time.   

Resting the in grove

🗓 4th Night, Garberville, California

Richardson Grove State Park

Madrone Campground

We arrived at about 11:30 am and drove around to pick a first come first served spot out of six sites that were available. 

Most of the campground spots taken or available were all very slanted so we had little chance of getting Mr. Knightley level even with blocks.

So, we picked a pretty large, open site with more space and headed to the visitors center to book it. 

We noticed that there was an interpretive nature trail starting soon with the park interpreter.

She took us for a 45 min trail walk and we picked up two other couples along the loop.

One guy from California told us a moving personal story about sitting on one of the benches contemplating what he was going to do because he had lost his job.

Sitting on that bench looking up to this ancient redwood tree with a burl, giving life to a new tree, he received a call that he had been given a new position. 

Girls on tree

We tried working and getting internet at the day use area for awhile. We soon realized we needed to move to the other side of the parking lot for Starlink to clear the trees and happily that would also put us into the Sun to give us more solar.

The temps were in the upper 70’s and 80’s and with a nice breeze. With our fans and window shades it was a dreamy summer flow.

Our other cell hotspots were not giving us much help so it was worth it to set up Starlink. 

We returned to the picnic area in the morning for better bathrooms, a flat spot to cook our usual morning date of scrambled eggs and to finish writing our second week on the road article post. 

Cooking in the van

📸 Then we headed north to make our way to the coast again.

We spent some time in Humboldt State Park in the Avenue of the Giants and took a short loop walk at the visitor center. 

🗓 5th Night, Crescent City, California

Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park,

Mill Creek Campground

This campground might secretly harbor some of the oldest and tallest redwood trees because of the steep, protected, thick hills.

This deep forested park had campsites and trails and also reached hundreds of feet to the rugged coastline with a sandy beach and tide pool.

Mill Creek campground may have had some of the most impressive trees but we didn’t have much chance of reaching them. There was no chance of any cell service or Starlink for 10 miles or more.

We were at a standstill with blogging and work with so many thick forests to explore the last few days.

It was also a very dark and cool campground and wit unique campsites and lush, almost rainforest vegetation. It was beautiful and serene. 

As we walked around the loops of the campground we saw quail and their babies running around. Wow, are they fast.


In the morning, we headed into town to get some cell service and update our weekly blog post. We also made a plan to start with the first visitor center in the Redwoods National Park (and state parks) (Klamath Kutchel Visitor Center) for maps and info. 

One stop was at High Bluff Overlook off of Alder Camp road where we saw harbor seals sunning themselves on the rocks. With our binoculars we also saw cormorants (diving water birds)  and a flock of pelicans fishing at the beach surf.

I was pleasantly surprised to identify a bird chirping with my Merlin Bird ID app and quickly spotted the Cedar Wax Wing at the top of a pine tree. 

The app also identified the Black Oyster Catchers I was watching from our vantage point high up on the coastal cliff. So exciting!

California rocky coast

We continued down the one way gravel road toward Klamath beach road where we were able to spy a huge herd of seals far off in the distance. 

Murrelet State Wilderness was a stop along the way where we sought after the great twisted redwood tree marked on Google Maps.

🗓 6th & 7th Nights, Hoopa, California

Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

Gold Bluffs Beach Campground

We loved this campground so much!!

We were happy to be able to grab cancellation after our first night. They said we could book at the kiosk at noon the next day and we had priority since we had stayed night before.

We already knew those who camped in 17 on the coast were not staying since we had asked earlier if there were any cancellations. For 7/22 to 7/24 we had sites #16 & #17 on the beach side Camp at Gold Bluffs Beach.

One of the best campgrounds in the park is Gold Bluffs Beach.

Here there are no big RVs or trailers due to the narrow, steep and curving roads to get in. Most are pitching tents on the beach sites amongst the sand dunes.

A few were vanning it like us.  The campground overlooks one of the most serene and picturesque Pacific Ocean sunsets.


Multiple times a day, we saw 23-30 Roosevelt Elk cows and one bull with about four calves that live nearby over the two and a half days we were there.

Baby elk

We saw a harbor seal fishing in the surf one evening as sunset started to illuminate the waves. 

His pirouettes could be seen for just seconds through the shallow surf before he dropped below the surface for another minute or two.

This one swam around just a few seconds longer to take a look at us. After a few seconds more it followed along the waves down the beach. 

From this spectacular campground, there is excellent access to a couple of spectacular trails as well. The day fee was included with our camping receipt.  

Fern Canyon is unique and popular with babbling brooks and stream crossings. It winds through a lush river canyon covered in dripping and cascading water trails through the ferns, foliage and rock walls.  It is very beautiful.

Fern canyon hike is just a one mile loop from the parking lot if you can manage crossing two shallow rivers in your vehicle.

It’s recommended to wear water proof boots as “you’re sure to get your feet wet” walking up a river bed.

In mid-July, for us, there was not too much water so we didn’t get our feet wet very much since the flow was shallow with foot bridges nicely placed throughout.

There is a scenic Coastal Trail, as well, affording opportunities to spot the harbor seals fishing, dolphins and migrating whales in the spring.

Trillium Falls trail parking is just before Davidson road which then excludes trailers and large RVs. As a result, anyone can get to this trailhead.

I would say that this hike was well worth it and is on the top of my suggestion list for wonderful, old growth redwoods around every bend and hill.

 🗓 7th Night, Hoopa, California

Prairie Creek Redwoods SP, Gold Bluffs Beach CG 

While we waited to book site #17 at noon we hiked Fern Canyon. We then had lunch and got our reservation for the second night.

We saw more harbor seals, elk, birds, a fox and sunsets.

Sunset on the beach

Until next week,

have a good night on the trail

wherever you are on your journey!