Where is Prairie Creek Redwood State Park
Located in Humboldt County, California, Prairie Creek Redwood State Park is co-managed by the California Department of Parks and Recreation and the National Park Service. The park is one part of the California Coast Ranges International Biosphere Reserve. The reserve includes Prairie Creek along with other protected state and national parks such as Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, and Redwood National Park. These parks are also protected as a world heritage site. Prairie Creek Redwood State Park is located near the town of Orick. The town of Eureka is located 50 miles south of the park.
How Big is Prairie Creek Redwood State Park
Prairie Creek Redwood State Park, which protects coastal redwoods and several other endemic California species, covers 14,000 acres. The park features several different coastal environments including the redwood forest, meadows, coastal beaches, and prairie creek. The latter of which provides the park with its name. The park features over 75 miles of hiking trails. These trails range from easy to a challenge. The park also contains several biking trails and two campgrounds. The campgrounds are Elk Prairie and Gold Bluffs Beach Campground.
Prairie Creek Redwood State Park Weather
The weather in Prairie Creek Redwood State Park varies from season to season but is relatively inviting all year long. In the summer, temperatures in the park approach 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and in the winter, temperatures in the park can drop as low as 35 degrees Fahrenheit. The warmest months at the park are June, July, and August. The coldest months are December and January. The park experiences around 100 days of precipitation every year. However, very few of these days ever occur during the summer. Winter temperatures rarely stay cold enough for snow to develop in the park. Though in winter, rain and thunderstorms are prevalent. The park’s elk population is frequently spotted in the warmer spring and summer months.
When did Prairie Creek become a State Park
Prairie Creek became a state park in 1923 through an initial donation of 160 acres from Zipporah Russ. The land was donated to the Save the Redwoods League. With help from the league, the park grew to over 5000 acres by 1931. The park was created to protect the coastal redwoods and Roosevelt elk population that inhabits the park.
Things to do in Prairie Creek State Park
Prairie Creek State Park offers visitors endless outdoor recreation opportunities. The most popular of these adventures are listed below:
Prairie Creek Visitor Center
The Prairie Creek Visitor Center is the best place for visitors to start their Prairie Creek State Park adventure. Rangers and employees at the visitor center will provide visitors with valuable information relating to the park’s history, wildlife species, and recreational offerings. The visitor center is a great place for visitors to get oriented with the park’s various hiking and biking trails.
Visit the Giants
Prairie Creek State Park contains several individual redwood trees that have grown over 300 feet tall. The tallest of all the trees in the park are Big Tree, Corkscrew Redwood, and the Cathedral Trees. The park is also home to several other coastal giants including Douglas firs, Sitka spruces, and western hemlocks.
Hiking in Prairie Creek State Park
Prairie Creek State Park offers over 75 miles of hiking trails. The park’s most popular hiking trails include the Prairie Creek Trail and the James Irvine - Miners Ridge Loop. The Prairie Creek Trail starts near the park’s visitor center and is an easy 8-mile round trip. The James Irvine loop is more challenging and runs for 11.6 miles throughout the park.
Biking in Prairie Creek State Park
The Ossagon Trail Loop within Prairie Creek State Park offers bikers the opportunity to traverse the park’s forest and beach. The trail begins at the park’s northern boundary near mile marker 132.9 on the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway.
Gold Bluffs Beach
Another popular spot in Prairie Creek State Park is Gold Bluffs Beach. The beach features several hiking opportunities including 10 miles of the California Coastal Trail. Gold Bluffs Beach is also home to one of the park’s campgrounds. The beach has earned its name from the gold that was once found there.
Birding in Prairie Creek State Park
Birders flock to Prairie Creek State Park during every season. The park is home to more than 400 avian species. The park’s rarest species include the marbled murrelet and western snowy plovers. Other species include, cormorants, peregrine falcons, and various songbirds.
The park’s mammalian species include Roosevelt Elk, mountain lions, coyotes, bobcats, black-tailed deer, brown bats, red squirrels, and black bears. The park also is often home to several marine mammals such as grey whales, dolphins, and California sea lions.
Camping in Prairie Creek State Park
Prairie Creek State Park offers visitors the opportunity to stay in one of its two campgrounds. The Elk Prairie Campground features more than 60 family sized sites. The Gold Bluffs Beach Campground contains 26 tent or car only campsites. Reservations are required for both campgrounds and can be made online through the park system’s portal. The park also offers several hike and bike in campsites on a first come, first serve basis. These campsites are reserved for people without vehicles.
When to go to Prairie Creek State Park
A trip to Prairie Creek State Park is possible and enjoyable all year long. Visitation to the park peak’s in the summer months as warmer and drier days descend upon the park. However, spring and fall are both great times to visit the park. These seasons offer an escape from the summer crowds that visit the park. Winter in the park can be quite cold and wet. However, those comfortable with cooler temperatures and the rain will still enjoy their visit.
Must-Have Things to Bring to Prairie Creek State Park
Every outdoor recreational trip requires some packing and planning. The most important items to remember on your trip to Prairie Creek State Park are listed below:
Water is one of the most important items to have on any outdoor centered trip. Campers and hikers visiting Prairie Creek State Park will want to bring additional water to suit them throughout their outdoor adventures.
Campers staying in the park will want to bring their food and supplies along with them to the park. The park offers very little in the way of groceries or prepared food. Hikers and bikers will want to bring energy packed foods like beef jerky, protein bars, and trail mix along with them.
Sturdy Hiking Boots
A sturdy pair of hiking boots will be every visitor’s best friend. Prairie Creek State Park offers several trails that wind through various terrains found in the park. Hikers will want to invest in a waterproof and lightweight pair for added comfort.
Visitors to Prairie Creek State Park will want to bring a rain jacket along with them. Sudden thunderstorms and rain showers often appear in the park. The possibility of sudden storms increases in the winter months.
Multiple Layers of Clothing
Temperature in Prairie Creek State Park can vary throughout the day, especially as rainfall appears in the park. Wearing multiple layers of clothing is the best way for visitors to ensure their comfort.
Campers staying in either of the park’s two campgrounds will want to make sure they remember to pack their tent’s rainfly to protect them from storms that might appear throughout the night.
Visitors looking to spot any of the park’s various avian species will want to bring along a pair of lightweight binoculars. These are also a worthy investment for any outdoor recreation.
Prairie Creek State Park is quite large and can be rather confusing. The park’s trail system also features several trails that intersect upon each other. Visitors to the park will want to obtain various maps from the park’s visitor center.
Where to Stay in Prairie Creek State Park
Visitors looking to camp within Prairie Creek State Park will want to make reservations ahead of time for a site at one of the two park campgrounds. Several towns near the park including Eureka and Orick also offer visitors several hotel and motel lodging options.
Food Nearby Prairie Creek State Park
The closest towns to Prairie Creek State Park offering visitors the opportunity to replenish their appetites or supplies are Orick and Eureka. Orick is about 10 minutes from the park, whereas Eureka is about an hour drive away. Each town contains several restaurants and grocery stores.
Airports Near Prairie Creek State Park
The closest international airports to Prairie Creek State Park are located in San Francisco and Sacramento. The San Francisco International Airport is five hours and 45 minutes away. The Sacramento International Airport is five hours and thirty minutes away. There are also several smaller airports closer to the park. These airports include the Crescent City Airport and the Eureka-Arcata Airport.