National parks in California National parks in California

11 Best National Parks In California

California is the state in the nation with the most national parks, more than any other. One of the best geographic region conglomerations on earth is provided by the national parks of California.

From the breathtaking Yosemite to the desolate Death Valley, California’s national parks has endless beauty. Dramatic scenery, a wide variety of flora and animals, and wonderful adventures await you in each park.

The beauty of California’s national parks has made them globally famous for tourism. Many of these parks get many visits from locals and international folks. The top national parks in California are:

  • Joshua Tree National Park.
  • Death Valley National Park.
  • Yosemite National Park.
  • Channel Islands National Park.
  • Pinnacles National Park.
  • Kings Canyon National Park.
  • Redwood National and State Parks.
  • Lassen Volcanic National Park.
  • Cabrillo National Monument.
  • San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park.
  • Mojave National Preserve.

Incredible National Parks In California

Check out these stunning and incredible national parks in California.

1.  Joshua Tree National Park

national parks in california
By Elliott Engelmann/Unsplash

The strange and eccentric Joshua tree in Joshua National Park that can be seen on the park’s northern side gave it its name. The Biblical figure Joshua, with his arms lifted in prayer, was reputedly sounded like by the Mormons who gave the tree its alleged name.

Hiking pathways come in a wide variety. In Joshua Tree National Park, rock scrambling and rock climbing are extremely popular activities.

Riding a bike, exploring backcountry roads, camping, stargazing, and enjoying birding are among the activities you may do while driving through the park’s beautiful route.

Enjoy the blossoms this spring. Participate in target-hunting hikes, talks, or one of the evening programs held in the amphitheater throughout the year for an in-depth comparison of various park features.

2.  Death Valley National Park

It’s no surprise that Death Valley is one of California’s most popular places to go in December, because it is impossible to visit this place in summers due to its immense heat.

Death Valley National Park often appears in the top five in the lists of the best national parks in California.

This national park is considered one of the hottest and driest places. Death Valley truly holds the record for fashionable temperature ever recorded on earth.

The Colorful Ridges Of Zabriskie Point At Sunrise, Death Valley National Park, California, USA
Photo by Doug Lemke from Shutterstock

Located east of the Sierra American state within the southeast part of California, Death Valley national park hugs the border with the American state.

As a result, Death Valley national park makes for a good excursion from the metropolis because it is simply a 2-hour drive from Sin Town.

3.  Yosemite National Park

body of water near trees and mountain at daytime
By Des Récits/Unsplash

The third-oldest national park in America, Yosemite National Park, is comparable in age to Rhode Island. One of the most popular national parks in the United States is Yosemite, which was founded in 1890.

Yosemite Falls, part of the breathtaking Sierra American state, features granite cliffs and some of California’s most impressive waterfalls. There are gorgeous meadows and lakes, areas with untouched forests, and various fauna.

Yosemite National Park is a great place for all travelers, from photographers looking for the ideal shot to extreme outdoor enthusiasts, families looking for an outdoor holiday, and city people returning to enjoy the location.

Long walks within the spring and summer, rediscover the colors in fall, and go sport or snowshoeing during the winter.

4. Channel Islands National Park

Numerous plant and animal species, some dozen of which are exclusive to the islands and are occasionally compared to the island, may be found in the Golden State Channel Islands region.

You can only get to this island by boat or airplane. The Channel Islands National Park, which is located off the coast of Southern California, includes five of the eight islands.

Channel Islands National Park - Ventura, California - Things to Do and See When You Visit

The ocean around Santa Barbara contains the islands of Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Miguel, and Santa Barbara.

Numerous possibilities to witness diverse flora and wildlife as well as beautiful natural vistas are offered by the Channel Islands National Park.

The views on the islands are stunning from higher elevations. While some wildflower species bloom all summer long, most do so in the spring.

Explore the island of your choice once you are there. One of the best activities at Channel Islands National Park is hiking. While you stroll, savor the gorgeous wildflowers, observe the birds, and take in the breathtaking surroundings. Water sports like kayaking, surfing, boating, and tide-pooling are available in this area.

5. Pinnacles National Park

Pinnacles national park sits east of the Salinas vale, and it’s about 2 hours from Big Sur. The park is considered to be leftovers of a volcanic incident around twenty-three million years ago.

Shooting Star Flowers Bloom In Pinnacles along the North Backcountry Trail
Photo by Kelly vanDellen from Shutterstock

The national parks of California don’t disappoint when it comes to spring wildflowers. You’ll find plenty of incredible, gorgeous views around this park. You can also indulge in activities such as cave exploration and enjoy a calm hike around the giant rock formations.

6. Kings Canyon National Park

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By Joe Wilson/Unsplash

Kings Canyon National Park is quite close to Sequoia National Park, and it gets thousands of tourists every year. It has one of the deepest canyons in the U.S., along with eminent trees, majestic mountains, and delightful rock formations. Kings Canyon rivals gorgeous landscapes that you can find at Yosemite.

This park is home to numerous fauna, including burro deer, Ovis canadensis, black bear, and diverse species of birds.

At King’s Canyon, you’ll get the opportunity to hike a wide range of trails, go mountaineering (rock climbing), camp, backpack, do horseback riding, or indulge in water activities around the lakes.

There are opportunities to stargaze, fish, observe wildlife, do fancy photography, or visit a number of the historical sites within the park. Fancy sledding, snow play, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing in the winter are also some of the most popular activities.

7. Redwood National Park

Redwood National and State Parks isn’t a singular national park in California but a combination of multiple parks that unfold across the lineation (which confused Pine Tree State initially). These beautiful national parks are around 5 hours north of San Francisco.

REDWOOD National Park 4K (Visually Stunning 3min Tour)

Once here, you’ll notice that a combination of the temperate rain forest, large redwood trees, and the covering Pacific ocean make for a vast extent idyllic setting. It could take weeks to explore the entirety of Redwood National and State Parks.

Don’t miss the opportunity to hike along the Damnation Creek path, witness the grassland Creek Redwoods and explore all of the fun activities around these parks.

Redwood National Park’s Unique Attraction

The Klamath River Overlook offers glorious views of the mouth of the Klamath River and, therefore, the Pacific Ocean. Scenic picnic fallback commanding ocean & water with sightings of grey whales, oceans & sea lions.

Bring your binoculars! Seals can typically be seen and detected as they rest on the sandspit at the mouth of the river. It may be an excellent spot to look at a range of birds and marine life any time of year. You can even catch a glimpse of migrating grey whales within the spring or fall. 

The overlook has picnic tables that offer incredible sunset views if not hidden by fog.

8. Lassen Volcanic National Park

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By Yang Liu/Unsplash

The most well-known volcano in Lassen Volcanic National Park, Lassen Peak, last erupted in the early part of this decade. Here and there are effervescent hot springs or hydrothermal hissing fumaroles.

Lassen Volcanic National Park is one of the less frequented California national parks, which may be a blessing if you prefer to take in the beauties of nature away from crowds. It is situated within the Shasta Cascade in northeastern California.

You can enjoy a variety of activities here. Go kayak within the beautiful clear lakes, camp, carry, picnic, and stargaze within the park. Hiking and biking in the summer is also much-loved activity.

9. Cabrillo National Monument National Park

One of the most popular national parks in the San Diego metropolitan area is Cabrillo National Monument, located at the tip of the Point Loma Peninsula just west of the town centre.

This national park brings many tourists to Bay. Due to its Hispanic background, the city’s Harbour and skyline may be seen while offering views of Tijuana and the Coronado Islands in North America.

San Diego Hiking Path in Point Loma San Diego Near Cabrillo National Monument, San Diego, Southern California
Photo by Dancestrokes from Shutterstock

Another attraction inside the national monument is the Lomaeacon light, a well-known city icon constructed atop a bluff more than 400 feet above sea level. It was still in service, the best beacon light in the USA.

Because of its altitude, fog and low clouds occasionally obscure the sun, making it necessary for the beacon lightkeepers to alert ships by firing weapons. Recreating the Loma beacon light’s old function as a history museum is now feasible.

The Cabrillo National Monument also provides a variety of enjoyable outdoor activities. The city has above 70°F (21°C) average year-round temperatures, and there are over 20 sunny days per month, making it a haven for outdoor lovers.

The Cabrillo National Monument may be a great place to take advantage of the San Diego environment for activities like tide-pooling, whale watching, hiking, sports, and bird watching.

10. San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park is one of the beautiful parks in California and a famous historic national park. It’s located close to Fisherman’s Wharf, one of San Francisco’s prime tourist attractions.

This National Historical Park in San Francisco lets you immerse yourself into the planet of 19th-century Pacific seafaring. 

This multi-attraction park preserves a wealth of cultural resources, giving guests the possibility to expertise coast maritime history first-and arguably, its main highlight is the fleet of historic ships docked at Hyde Street Pier.

Maritime National Historical Park - San Francisco

In addition, to its superb fleet, San Francisco metropolis Maritime National Historical Park has its traveler center or visitor center. Housed in an early-1900s city district warehouse, it contains heaps of fascinating information.

The Maritime repository is within the historic Aquatic Park Bathhouse Building; it has its Maritime center, established in 1939. It is the top resource for maritime history in the San Francisco metropolis and the entire coast.

The views offered around this historic national park aren’t something you would want to miss out on. It can get quite chilly here, so it’s recommended to come prepared to deal with that. 

11. Mojave National Preserve

Mojave National Preserve is largely adjacent to Joshua Tree and Death Valley and is deserving of its parkland title. Mojave National Preserve is the best national park in California if you’re seeking for peace and quiet.

Low-lying clouds over "Hole in the Wall" at Mojave National Preserve
Photo by C. Havrda from Shutterstock

This vast park is home to abundant spring wildflowers, dunes, and even fragment cone volcanoes. It is situated on Route 66 in Southern California, halfway between Interstates 15 and 40.

A landscape that is as Wild West as it can be is framed by canyons, mesas, and mountains, especially when you take into account the area’s scattered abandoned mines, homesteads, and recent military outposts.

In the vicinity of San Diego, California, this underappreciated park is one of the best national parks; it is a serene desert getaway that is also strikingly gorgeous.

While tourist destinations like the volcanic rock Tube and Kelso Dunes are a blast to explore with other people, the night sky is nothing short of breathtaking.

Attractions Near The Best National Parks In California

While exploring the gorgeous national parks of California, you’ll come across many various attractions near these parks, which you shouldn’t miss out on. Here’s a list of some of the best places to check out around the enchanting national parks in California:

1. The Golden Gate Bridge

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By Benoit Debaix/Unsplash

This location in San Francisco offers some of the most beautiful views you can capture on a drive. It’s a popular photography destination.

Deckle-edged to the north by the Reyes National seashore, this expansive public bridge is also close to the fascinating John Muir Woods monument.

2.  Point Reyes National Seashore

An hour north of the San Francisco point Reyes is the solely federally selected sea-west coast on the geographical region.

Over one hundred fifty miles of hiking trails span the estuaries, forests, and marshes of the national sea-coast, further because of the varied wild beaches lined with beautiful views of the Pacific.

9 Things to Do - Point Reyes National Seashore, San Francisco Bay Area, California, United States

This outline is for tourists and life alike, and animal sightings embody European elk, seals, and gray whales throughout annual migrations.

3.  The Santa Monica Mountains

Santa Monica Mountains is a gorgeous mountain range that offers an escape into the wild, away from the busy city life. In addition, activities such as hiking and camping are much enjoyed here. Self-propelled vehicle parking is available here.

View of Curved Piuma Road and Malibu Marine Layer During Sunset in Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, California
Photo by Steven Guo from Shutterstock

Stretching from Santa Monica upcountry and up the coast to close Oxnard, areas within the Santa Monica Mountains embrace cosmic time ravine, purpose Mugu State Park, and therefore the original dominant Ranch.

Final Words

If you are in California, then you must explore the above mentioned national parks. California is home to beautiful and exotic national parks which are fun to visit.

California National Parks - Which Park You Should Visit

These national parks in California, has something for everyone. You will love them if you are a desert lover or even if you find joy in lush green mountains.

So, what are you waiting for? – Go ahead and explore them all!

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Last Updated on March 13, 2023 by Laveleena Sharma