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8 Amazing California National Parks ~ Places of Natural Beauty & Wonder

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Steller's Jay bird in Yosemite National Park

Steller's Jay bird in Yosemite National Park

National Parks

Are you a nature lover? If so you are undoubtedly interested in learning about the lands set aside by the United States government for current as well as future generations of people to enjoy. California as well as the State of Alaska each have the most national parks with a total of eight each as of January in the year 2013.

Sometimes in the history of the development of national parks some places first start out designated as national monuments and later become national parks. So this current number of 8 national parks in California may eventually change.

My dream would be to eventually spend some quality time in all 58 national parks in the U.S. Whether I hit that target or not I can enthusiastically report that I have never been disappointed with any park that I have ever had the privilege of visiting. I have two more to cross off of my list in California and that is the Lassen Volcanic National Park and the Channel Islands National Park. The rest of the national parks in that state I have already visited.

Death Valley National Park

Starting with the largest national park in the lower 48 states this park of 3.3 million acres would take a vacation of quite some time to see it all. It is the fifth-largest of all of the U.S. National Parks! Parts of it are also in the State of Nevada.

Despite its fearful name Death Valley has astonishing beauty and distinct points of interest that will surely reward any time spent there and make visitors to these unique ancient valleys wishing that their time could be extended.

From salt flats and mirages to a bounty of spring-blooming flowers and colors in the rocks and sand dunes, visiting that national park would please the most discerning of artists as well as nature lovers.

It is full of surprises! Most people know that much of it consists of the hot searing desert but did you know that it also has an oasis with fresh spring water?

Yosemite National Park

See why naturalist John Muir fell in love with this special place created by glacial action of past centuries.

See plush valleys, mountains with hanging waterfalls and quiet steams where fishermen can cast their lines. There are many day hikes where people can exercise limbs and create beautiful memories. Yosemite National Park is sheer delight for people who visit plus the wildlife who call it home.

Joshua trees in Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua trees in Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park

This national park of over one million acres is composed of two distinct desert systems. Located near Palm Springs, California and approximately 140 miles east of Los Angeles this natural setting is idea for hikers, campers and is particularly alluring for rock climbers.

Learn about the iconic Joshua tree, Skull Rock and more by accessing the links at the bottom of this article.

Redwoods National Park

Is there anyone alive who would not be impressed with seeing some of the tallest growing things on earth? These magnificent redwood trees which can be thousands of years old can grow to heights of an amazing 300 to 350 feet skyward. One really feels small when walking among these majesties of nature!

The Redwoods National Park and similar state parks and forests which help protect these beautiful coastal trees from being harvested for lumber or other purposes (such as happened in the past) are also a World Heritage Site because of their rarity and uniqueness among things gracing our small planet.

Sequoia National Park

These are the largest (by mass) living things on our planet. The thick bark can withstand not only insect infestations but fires.

Surviving through the ages, these are amazing trees of stature worthy of such names as General Grant and General Sherman.

Kings Canyon National Park

The Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are adjacent to one another. Most often people visiting one park will weave in and out of both parks so often the articles written about them include both parks.

If you wish to see the absolute largest living specimen on earth then one must visit Kings Canyon National Park where one will find a tree called the General Sherman Tree. One feels infinitesimally small and inconsequential when standing near the base of such a mammoth tree that has stood there witnessing the passing of at least 2,300 or more years.

One will be using the gears on one's vehicle to maximum use as one drives the roads which soar to heights reaching 7,500 feet or 2,300 meters above sea level. Beyond that point one must hike to the upper elevations which reach in excess of 14,000 feet. The scenery in Kings Canyon is so beautiful.

View of the cinder cone from behind Snag Lake in Lassen Volcanic National Park.

View of the cinder cone from behind Snag Lake in Lassen Volcanic National Park.

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Do you wish to see a landscape with lakes, wildflowers in season and volcanic activity that has left the landscape molded with remnants of volcanoes, sizzling hot water and smoking fumaroles? If your answer is yes then Lassen Volcanic National Park in north central California should be on your bucket list of places to explore.

Channel Islands National Park

Channel Islands National Park

Channel Islands National Park

If you can't make it to the Galapagos Islands but still wish to be able to see unique species unspoiled by human habitation, then the five islands just off the coast of southern California might be what you are seeking. This is a place and national park unlike any other!

Pinnacles National Park

Since the time I wrote this, Pinnacles National Park has been added to the list of ones in California. The unique landscape is the result of multiple volcanic eruptions over time. It is a great place to hike and view wildlife. Looking at the video below, I wish I was younger. Hiking through those caves would be a bit challenging now, but I loved seeing them via the video.

Locations of National Parks in California

California National Parks are amazing in their variety and diversity of what they have to offer visitors. Hope you enjoyed this look at them. I will be looking forward to your comments. Thanks!


National Park Service: California Parks

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2013 Peggy Woods

Comments are welcomed!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 01, 2018:

Hi Rajan,

It is wonderful that so many public lands have been set aside as national and state parks in the U.S. so that future generations of people will have access to them. I am glad that you enjoyed this brief look at our national parks in California.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on December 01, 2018:

The photos here show these parks are a heaven on earth. It is heartening to learn the United States government has the foresight to think about the future of the coming generations.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on February 04, 2015:

Hi Patricia,

At one time I had hoped to visit all of the national parks in America. I may never make it come true but it is a worthy venture as all of them are certainly worth a visit. State parks are also great places to visit.

Appreciate the votes and share. Sending angels your way! :)

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on February 04, 2015:

Peggy This was amazing. I do so love to visit National Prks (state parks, too, of course) ...I have not visited these and now really want to make them part of a travel adventure.

I can only imagine what travelers on horseback must have experienced if they came upon this unknowingly.

I know when travelers to South Dakota found the Badlands to be a journey that was nearly impossible.