California is as vast as it is fascinating; it is home to very diverse natural landscapes. The numerous national parks are among the most popular destinations in California and are a must for those in search of open landscapes and a bit of adventure.
Let’s take a look at the national parks in California and we will try to present you with brief descriptions that give an idea of the types of landscape that characterizes the parks, so that you can choose which is best for you. If you are interested in a particular park, just click on the button to read our tips about it.
There are nine natural wonders in California that can boast the name of National Park:
Joshua Tree National Park
The haunting Joshua Tree National Park extends to the point where Low Desert (also known as Colorado Desert) meets High Desert (Mojave Desert). It is a beautiful park, populated by clusters of rock and Yucca agaves (cactus-like trees with twisted and grotesque shapes). The landscape is almost surreal, especially at dawn, when the scenery and landscapes are remarkable.
Death Valley National Park
Which Californian valley has a well-known national park? This is a question we often hear from our readers eager to explore the so-called Death Valley. If you are looking for ghostly and ethereal scenery, in addition to the Joshua Tree National Park, you must visit Death Valley, one of the most amazing natural marvels you can find in nature. Huge expanses of drained lakes, multicolored mountains, desert dunes and bizarrely shaped hills offer a scenery both desolate and fascinating. Sometimes you will have the impression of having landed on the moon.
Yosemite National Park
In the heart of the Sierra Nevada you will find one of the most impressive geological marvels: Yosemite National Park. During the visit you can see enormous granite formations, majestic waterfalls, large redwood forests and beautiful lakes. The most stunning parts of the park are not accessible by car, so if you really want to enjoy the park, get ready to do some hiking.
Sequoia National Park
Sequoia National Park is located south of Yosemite and borders Kings Canyon National Park. The main attraction can be guessed from the park’s name, the giant sequoias that grow on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada. The park, however, has a rather varied landscape, with forests as well as meadows with barren areas and mountain peaks.
Kings Canyon National Park
Kings Canyon National Park is home to one of the deepest canyons in the United States and is striking for its rich ridges and domes that have gorgeous colorations. In the park you can also see giant redwoods and some beautiful lakes.
Pinnacles National Park
Redwood National Park
Formed by three state parks, the Redwood National Park is located in Northern California along the coast. Visit it and enjoy seeing large meadows grazed by moose as well as huge, twisted trees and spectacular views of the coast. Nearby, you can visit some locations used for the filming of the Star Wars saga in California.
Lassen Volcano National Park
The Lassen Volcanic National Park is dominated by Lassen Peak, the large volcano that gives its name to a park where you can wander through coniferous forests, crystal clear lakes and hot springs. The last eruption, in 1915, affected the landscape, which still has bare and desolate areas.
Channel Islands National Park
The Channel Islands National Park includes five of the eight Channel Islands in the Pacific. Although it is not far from coastal centers such as Santa Barbara and Los Angeles, the park is home to virgin natural landscapes, consisting mainly of rocky formations and crystal clear water.
California National Parks Map
How should you plan a tour of California parks?
Once you’ve selected the parks to visit, you’ll need to organize a proper road trip, which may not be easy without the right information. Here are some tips that might be useful:
- Tips on how to plan a road trip in California.
- Don’t forget that if you visit a lot of national parks it might help to save you the appropriate pass. Take a look at our article.
- Pre-packaged West Coast tours with all the stops already outlined in the major parks of California, Arizona and Utah.
- Our section dedicated to California, with all the articles that could be useful to outline the stops on your road trip
- Unless you are relying on one of the many organized tours, you will need a car to visit the parks. Here are some tips to save on car rental.
- You might need to look for a good flight for your trip.
- You can also purchase a supplementary policy to insure your trip (luggage, flight delay, cancellation, etc. …).
- Finally, make sure you have all the required documents to be able to travel.
What are your favorite parks in California? Which one do you intend to visit or have already visited? Tell us about your experience…