California’s National Parks

California might be famous for its year-round sunny weather, but few truly know about its remarkable natural beauty. Discover California’s national parks.

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Home to the world’s largest trees, the tallest waterfalls, the most extreme temperatures and some of the most spectacular scenery, California’s national parks are well worth a visit.

California’s most famous national park, Yosemite was recognised as a World Heritage Site in 1984 for its captivating natural beauty. Situated in California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range, it is internationally renowned for its deep valleys, grand meadows, ancient sequoia trees, freshwater lakes, breathtaking waterfalls, incredible biological diversity and staggering granite cliffs, like El Capitan. Tranquil, wild and utterly arresting, Yosemite National Park is a haven for hiking, rock climbing and scenic drives, and if there’s only one park you manage to see in California, make sure it’s this.

Death Valley National Park is a place of extremes: both the hottest and driest park in the United Staes, at 282 feet below sea level, it is also the lowest point in North America. But don’t let these facts put you off. Its otherworldly landscapes and incredible colours are truly out of this world, and well worth a visit.

With no less than 8,000 rock climbing and hiking routes, Joshua Tree National Park is a must for hikers. But for the spiritually and artistically minded it’s an equally attractive destination. Joshua Tree’s stark, bewitching beauty characterised by rugged rock formations and cactus-dotted desert landscapes offers everything from peaceful camping and dark night skies to active adventure and Old-West history.

Situated south of the Sierra Nevada, and home of the world’s largest and oldest tree, nicknamed General Sherman, Sequoia National Park protects and preserves the beauty of California’s unique sequoia trees. Filled with exciting hiking trails and stunning scenic drives, Sequoia is a must for any nature lover. Most people combine a visit to Sequoia National Park with a visit to Kings Canyon National Park, which is home to the last remaining grove of sequoia trees in the world. Featuring terrain similar to that of Yosemite, Kings Canyon is an ideal stop for outdoor enthusiasts with miles of hiking trails and opportunities for both horse riding and camping.

One of the most idyllic forests in the United States, Redwood National Park in Northern California is home to 45% of the world’s remaining coastal redwood trees and is a designated World Heritage Site. Also home to indigenous flora, fauna and 60 km of pristine coastline, this beautiful preserve astounds with its imposing forest of redwood trees and accommodates visitors of all ages with its easy walking trails.

One of California’s lesser known national parks, Lassen Volcanic National Park is just as impressive as its counterparts with its breathtaking mix of volcanic alpine beauty. Located in the northeastern part of the state, it is the only place on Earth that features all four types of volcanoes: shield, cinder cone, composite and plug dome. It’s main peak, Mount Lassen, last erupted in 1915 and still hisses to this day. But for all its hydrothermal activity, Lassen has a peaceful side too, with turquoise crystalline lakes, like the impressive Manzanita and wildflower-filled meadows. It also happens to be a year-round wonderland for outdoor pursuits.

California’s youngest national park, only given its official designation in 2013, Pinnacles National Park actually has volcanic formations that were developed more than 20 million years ago. Located within the Salinas Valley, it’s filled with craggy spires, volcanic rocks and verdant desert shrubbery. In addition to numerous unique geological features, the park offers wonderful hiking trails, like the Bear Gulch Cave Trail and Moses Spring Trail. Birdwatchers will also be in luck as the park is home to roughly 200 different species including the Californian Condor.

 

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Things to do in California’s National Parks

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