Eureka is the perfect destination to discover the great outdoors —there are so many incredible options right at your fingertips. In fact, you’ll probably want to add some extra days to fit everything into your schedule. From Pacific Ocean views to 300’+ ancient redwoods, the nearby state and national parks can check all of the boxes.
The redwoods in Humboldt Redwoods State Park span a staggering 53,000 acres, with about one-third of the park being old-growth redwoods – the largest expanse of ancient redwoods on the planet. Running through the park is the 32-mile-long Avenue of the Giants, the best place to see the redwoods by car. If you’d like to be up close and personal, there are more than 100 miles of trails for the hiker, bicyclist, or equestrian to enjoy. There is also an abundance of spots to fish, boat, picnic, and swim. You can easily spend an entire day enjoying all that nature has to offer before heading back up the coast to settle in for a local dinner and evening in Old Town Eureka. Don’t forget to bring your camera!
Just 30 miles north from your Eureka basecamp, you’ll find the lush and forested Patrick’s Point State Park. This one-square-mile park sits beside the Pacific Ocean and is packed with plenty to explore. Hunt for agates, explore tidepools, and walk through the forested area, all while enjoying the view of seals, sea lions, and migrating whales. The park also includes a visitor center, a reconstructed Yurok plank-house village, and more. Feel free to bring along a picnic from a local eatery as you linger and enjoy the breathtaking scenery.
Eureka is a great basecamp for history buffs. Established in 1853, Fort Humboldt is a remote historic military post overlooking the Humboldt Bay. At its peak, the base held 14 structures, but now only the hospital building remains, as the original buildings were constructed quickly and were not built to last. For a short while, the base was also home to young Captain Ulysses S. Grant (later Civil War general and President of the United States). The hospital is now a historical museum dedicated to sharing the story of the Fort and Native American Groups, including the Wiyot, Hoopa, and Yurok of this region. The park also includes a Logging Museum and open-air displays of historic steam-powered 19th-mid 20th-century logging equipment, two steam-powered locomotives, and offers a favorite local picnic spot on a grassy bluff overlooking the Humboldt Bay. Enjoy exploring the museums, self-guided tours, and wide-open spaces — excellent for flying kites!
Since 1922, Richardson Grove State Park has expanded from 120 acres to 1,800 acres. This incredible park offers a little bit of everything. Visitors can camp, picnic, or hike on nine miles of trails. There is even the wild and scenic Eel River running through the soaring redwoods, beloved among locals for hidden swimming holes. During the summer you can take a dip in the cool Eel River, and in the winter, try your hand at catch-and-release fishing for salmon or steelhead. As you walk the trails, keep your eyes open and be sure not to miss the unusual redwoods sprinkled throughout the forest, including the walk-through three, bat tree, and chandelier tree. This is a spot the entire family will enjoy.
At 50 miles north of Eureka, Prairie Creek Redwood State Park is an outdoor lover’s adventure. The park contains three scenic drives, 75 miles of hiking trails, and a 19-mile bike loop. Choose between a gentle walk through Fern Canyon which, for the movie buffs, was used as the backdrop for the movie Jurassic Park; the Redwood Access Trail, designed for those with physical limitations; or the Revelation Trail, intended to emphasize the use of all five senses. These are all self-guided trails for you to explore to your heart’s content.
For those looking for something a bit off the beaten path, Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park is the perfect fit. At less than one square mile containing five miles of trails, Grizzly Creek is one of the smaller parks in the area. The visitor center offers unique opportunities through taxidermy to experience wildlife such as mountain lions, bears, and more up-close. During the summer, pause for a dip in the Van Duzen River and multiple spots to stop and swim along Highway 36.
Humboldt Lagoons State Park includes four lagoons: Big Lagoon, Stone Lagoon, Freshwater Lagoon, as well as Dry Lagoon — now a marsh bordered by dunes forests, and prairies. The lagoons offer visitors opportunities for boating, paddleboarding, swimming, fishing, and other outdoor explorations. Visit the Stone Lagoons Visitor Center to learn about the wide variety of wildlife in the surrounding areas. Because of the diversity in landscape, you could see whales, elk, salmon, pelican, and woodpeckers — a full day’s adventure.