Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park - Fern Canyon


What? : Fern Canyon is a quarter of a mile long canyon where the 50-foot high canyon walls are completely covered by ferns and are dripping with moisture. The Canyon is located at the ocean front of the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park in Humboldt County. Fern Canyon was chosen as a location for filming Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World.


This location is part of my "Redwood Parks at Northern California Coastline" road-trip suggestions and trip planner blog.

Link to the trip planner blog


For more information on nearby attractions see my blog covering Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park


Where? : Located 50 miles north of Eureka on the ocean front of Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, The canyon itself is located at the end of Davison Rd.

Google Map Link


When? : Year round visit. Summer temperatures range from 40 to 75F, but are cooler along the coast. Morning and evening fog is common. Winter brings chillier 35 - 55F days. Prepare for rain from November to May.


Due note 1: Dogs are prohibited in Fern Canyon and on all trails within Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Dogs are allowed on the beach and in campgrounds.


Due note 2: Davison Road is narrow and limited to vehicles with a maximum length of 24 feet and width of 8 feet. No trailers are allowed.


Due note 3: Before your visit, check for road and trail conditions throughout Redwood National and State Parks visitor centers or on the park website at:


Due note 4: Gold Bluffs Beach Campground is a large campground right on the ocean beach near the Fern Canyon. Order your campground in advance because this is very popular campground.


Due note 5: Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park is part several others redwood state and National parks that stretch up at the Northern California's coast and protect the remaining of the old growth Redwoods trees.


My thoughts: One of the most rewording hikes I did in this area, easy, short, and amazing canyon covered by fern. Although this hike is in the redwood park there aren’t any impressive redwoods over here. You can connect this short hike to a much longer day hike from the park main visitor center, see The James Irvine and Miners’ Ridge loop at this blog.


The visit:

Fern Canyon located in the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park in northern California Humboldt County. The Park is managed in cooperation with other nearby redwoods state parks and Redwood National Park. Fern Canyon is named and famous for the ferns growing and covering the 50-foot-high canyon walls, through which runs Home Creek.

Steven Spielberg chose this canyon as a location for some of the scenes in his movie “Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World”.


Detailed driving descriptions:

Located 45 miles north of Eureka on highway 101, from the small town Orick drive 2.8 miles north on 101, take left turn into Elk Meadow (3.5 miles south of Prairie Creek Visitor Center). Keep driving west onto a forest dirt road, from here 9 miles Davison Rd. will take you west. This gravel road cross the shoreline hills to the park ocean front.

Shortly after reaching the ocean front, you will pay entering fee at the park kiosk.

Drive north along the shoreline, pass the campground on your left. Here the road cross several shallow water streams (do-able by a regular car crossing) and keep driving until you will reach the Fern Canyon parking lot at the end of the road.


The hike:

From the parking lot trailhead hike ¼ mile north to the starting point of the canyon itself.

Here you will find that Home Creek has running water year-round so you will need to cross the shallow stream by foot.

During summer months, foot bridges are installed over the creek to make this trail easier without the need to get your foot into the water. In any case plan to get your shoes wet.


This flat section of the trail of about half a mile long follows Home Creek as it courses through the 50-80 feet deep canyon. The vertical walls covered with an amazing carpet of green ferns and other moisture-loving plants and mosses.

The narrow canyon is canopied by overhanging trees and vegetation from the above cliffs.


You can hike into the canyon all the way to it end, this section is around ¼ of a mile long, and back on the same way or continue hiking the trail that climbs out of the canyon.

If you decided to do the loop trail, at the top of the short climb, turn left to return to the canyon starting point above the canyon rim. Short forest hike above the canyon will bring you back above the starting point, here you will take the trail down to the canyon opening.


Another hiking option:

Fern Canyon can be reached by a moderate five-mile hike on the highly recommended James Irvine Trail. Beginning at the Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park visitor center the trail crosses Murrelet State Wilderness and it lashes Redwood Forest.

If you can leave one car at the parking lot and one car at the main visitor center this will be one way hike, else you will need to hike back to your starting point, this will be 12 miles loop hike.

See my PrairieCreek Redwoods State Park blog for full hike description.


The ocean front:

After hiking and enjoying Fern canyon, you can have lunch at the picnic table near the parking lot.

I highly recommend extending you visit here with a short hike to the ocean shoreline.

Just walk west, cross the sand dune and reach the endless coastline.

Always something to see here or just enjoy the ocean.






  1. These are beautiful photographs! Please make your movie with music, too, yes?!


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