The National Parks Service maintains 23 separate units in the state of California, and the following five we consider the best national parks in California.
For road trips to any of these national parks, try organizing your trip online to keep your itinerary, maps, and directions all in one place.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite’s beauty is unlike any other; but, with a landscape 10 million years in the making, that should come as no surprise.
Tucked away in the Sierra Nevada Mountain’s, this national park, which doubles as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to a rich array of organisms.
Characterized by towering granite cliffs, thousands of clean lakes and ponds, crashing waterfalls, and giant sequoia groves, Yosemite has the power to attract 4 million annual visitors all while maintaining its sacred serenity.
With hiking trails, 350 miles of road, and plenty of surrounding accommodations, this iconic valley is welcoming to strangers and frequent visitors alike. We consider it to be one of the best parks in California.
Joshua Tree National Park
Located in Southern California, Joshua Tree is one park, with two separate desert ecosystems, and 800,000 acres of land.
In the eastern part of the park, you’ll find the Colorado Desert characterized by lower elevation and natural gardens of bush and cactus. As you head west, you’ll reach higher elevations and find a cooler climate typical of the Mojave Desert. This is also where you’ll find the Joshua Tree, after which the park was named.
Beyond the wildflowers and cacti, the park is home to a wide variety of animals including lizards, tarantulas, rattlesnakes, owls, vultures, roadrunners, coyotes, jackrabbits, and more.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
Also residing in the Sierra Nevada region of California are Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Although technically two parks, their kissing boarders and single entry fee have them operating as a unit.
Sequoia Park was appropriately named after the sequoia trees that inhabit the area, while Kings Canyon is characterized by the deep valley that holds the Kings River. Within the combined 865,952 acres of the parks, you’ll find a thriving biodiversity. The parks are home to over 1,200 species of vascular plants, and many different animals can be found throughout the parks ranging elevation.
For more information, or to plan your visit, check out Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park’s WikiTravel page or www.visitsequoia.com.
Redwood National Park
Big trees and lots of them. Located on the North Coast of California, this national park and UNESCO World Heritage Site houses towering trees that can grow for over 2,000 years to be up to 367 feet high and 22 feet wide at the base.
Along the coast, you’ll find some of the world’s largest trees along with a variety of wildlife. Although this natural sanctuary was created to preserve highly sought after lumber, it’s also become the refuge for a total of 10 threatened and endangered species.
Channel Islands National Park
This National Park, located in Southern California, offers a unique experience. Comprised of a series of six islands, this coastal oasis is a beautiful mix of land and sea. With more than 2,000 species of plants and animals inhabiting the park, there’s plenty to see. Visitors can explore by hiking around the islands and by kayaking or diving in the surrounding waters.
Each island has it’s own character to experience, and with Southern California’s constant sunny weather, it’s a perfect year-round destination. For more information, or to plan your visit, check out the Channel Islands National Park’s WikiTravel page or http://www.nps.gov/chis/index.htm.
We hope you enjoy your journey exploring the best national parks in California. Happy travels!