If you are wandering in The Golden State and looking to get away from the hustle and bustle, you don’t have to look too far to find some of the nation’s most treasured landscapes and natural wonders.
California is rich with land that has been set aside, protected, and carefully managed by the National Park Service. From the iconic grandeur of Yosemite which sits in the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the offshore coastal outcroppings of the Channel Islands in Southern California, there are parks and recreational areas that are food for your mind, body, and soul.
So let’s hit the road. Here are the California Parks (in alpha order), links to more information, and a few details to enhance your journey. Get up, get out, and #FindYourPark!
- Alcatraz Island – San Francisco
- Cabrillo National Monument – San Diego
- California National Historic Trail
- Castle Mountains National Monument – Barstow
- César E. Chávez National Monument – Keene
- Channel Islands National Park – Ventura
Channel Islands National Park – Five rugged islands off the shore of California make up this National Park – Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Miguel, and Santa Barbara. Congress set this area aside as a National Park in 1980 to preserve the fragile resources and ecosystems that are found here.
- Death Valley National Park – Death Valley
- Devil’s Postpile National Monument – Mammoth Lakes
- Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site – Danville
- Fort Point National Historic Site – Presidio of San Francisco
- Golden Gate National Recreation Area – San Francisco
- John Muir National Historic Site – Martinez
- Joshua Tree National Park – Twentynine Palms
View Joshua Tree Through the Lens HERE
- Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail – Nogales, AZ to San Francisco
- Lassen Volcanic National Park – Mineral
- Lava Beds National Monument – Tulelake
- Manzanar National Historic Site – Independence
- Mojave National Preserve – Headquarters in Barstow
- Muir Woods National Monument – Mill Valley
- Old Spanish Historic Trail – Los Angeles
- Pinnacles National Park – Paicines
- Point Reyes National Seashore – Point Reyes
- Pony Express National Historic Trail – Sacramento, San Francisco
- Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial – Concord
- Presidio of San Francisco – San Francisco
- Redwood National and State Parks – Del Norte & Humboldt Counties
Redwood National & State Parks are located along the Pacific Coast in Northern California. Instead of one large Park, you’ll find a series of Parks that make up the larger Redwood National and State Parks. These include; Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park – all of which were established in the 1920s, and Redwood National Park– which was established in 1968. This mosaic of parks totals about 132,000 acres of land visited by approximately 420,000 people a year.
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- Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park – Richmond
- San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park – San Francisco
- Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area – Thousand Oaks
- Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks – Tulare and Fresno Counties in the Southern Sierras
- Whiskeytown National Recreation Area – Whiskeytown
- Yosemite National Park – out of Fresno in the Sierra Nevada
Yosemite National Park was established in 1890 as the Nation’s second recognized Park, although protection began as early as 1864 while Abraham Lincoln was in office. There are over 750,000 acres protected yet when most think of Yosemite they are typically referring to the 7 square miles of Yosemite Valley. It is rich with iconic granite peaks, cliffs and domes, dramatic waterfalls and some of the most beautiful meadows to be found. It truly is a remarkable place and, whether you are seeing it for the first time or are a longtime fan, when you get your glimpse of the valley it is jaw-dropping.
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