If you’re active in the outdoors and looking to explore the natural wonders of California, you’re in for a treat. This state is home to some of the most breathtaking national parks in the world. In this guide, we’ll take you on a journey through South, Central, and North California, and explore three of the most iconic parks: Yosemite, Sequoia, and Joshua Tree.
Starting in Southern California, we have Joshua Tree National Park, where the Mojave and Colorado deserts meet. This park is a climber’s paradise, with hundreds of routes for all skill levels. If you’re not a climber, don’t worry – there are plenty of hiking trails that will take you through Joshua Tree’s stunning landscape. Make sure to check out the Cholla Cactus Garden, which is home to thousands of spiky cacti.
Moving up to Central California, we have Sequoia National Park. This park is home to the largest trees on earth, the giant sequoias. Make sure to visit General Sherman, the largest tree in the world by volume, and take a hike through the groves of giants. The park also offers stunning vistas of the Sierra Nevada mountains, including the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States, Mount Whitney. Note: certain stretches of the park and access points are subject to closure. Always check before heading that way to make sure!
Finally, in Northern California, we have Yosemite National Park, which needs no introduction. This park is a must-see for any outdoor enthusiast. From the iconic Half Dome to the majestic Yosemite Falls, Yosemite offers some of the most breathtaking views in the world. Take a hike to Glacier Point for a panoramic view of the valley, or visit Tuolumne Meadows for a glimpse of the high country. Again: note that this area is subject to road closures, so check their website before heading up that way!
In case you didn’t know, California is home to a total of nine national parks, and each one is worth a visit. In addition to the three we’ve highlighted, here are a few more recommendations:
- Pinnacles National Park: A rock climber’s paradise with stunning rock formations and caves.
- Channel Islands National Park: Five remote islands off the coast of Southern California, with hiking, kayaking, and snorkeling opportunities.
- Lassen Volcanic National Park: Explore bubbling mud pots, steaming vents, and volcanic peaks in Northern California.
- Redwood National and State Parks: Home to the tallest trees on earth, the coast redwoods, as well as stunning beaches and hiking trails.