travel | California National Parks and Scenic Places

Bucket list of national parks and scenic places in California (source:

CABRILLO National Monument – rocky peninsula near San Diego
DEATH VALLEY National Park – starkly beautiful desert wilderness
DEVILS POSTPILE National Monument – unusual volcanic basalt formations in the eastern Sierra Nevada
GOLDEN GATE National Recreation Area – beaches, coastal bluffs, historic buildings and military sites around San Francisco
JOSHUA TREE National Park – desert, large rocks and curious plants
KINGS CANYON National Park – large wilderness area with deep canyons, lakes, sequoia trees and waterfalls
LASSEN VOLCANIC National Park – amazing volcanic and geothermal phenomena
LAVA BEDS National Monument – cinder cones, craters and lava caves in the far north
MOJAVE National Preserve – excellent desert scenery
MUIR WOODS National Monument – small but accessible redwood forest north of San Francisco on the Marin Peninsula
PINNACLES National Monument – isolated mountains composed of eroded, volcanic rock
POINT REYES National Seashore – isolated hilly peninsula bordered by miles of wind-swept beaches and cliffs
REDWOOD National and State Parks – dense coastal redwood forests
SANTA MONICA MOUNTAINS National Recreation Area – canyons, grassy hills and Pacific Ocean beaches, northwest of Los Angeles
WHISKEYTOWN-SHASTA-TRINITY National Recreation Area – forested lakes in the northern California mountains
SEQUOIA National Park – huge trees, cliffs and mountains
YOSEMITE National Park – glaciated peaks and valleys of great beauty
ANZA-BORREGO DESERT State Park – large, varied area of canyons, mountains, desert and badlands
BIG SUR – the Pacific Coast of central California, south of Carmel
BIG BASIN REDWOODS – thick coastal redwood forests in the Santa Cruz Mountains, south of San Jose
BODIE State Historical Park – exceptionally intact, well preserved and authentic California ghost town
CALAVERAS BIG TREES State Park – giant sequoia in the northern Sierra Nevada
CALIFORNIA MISSIONS – series of historic Spanish churches dating from 1769
HUMBOLDT REDWOODS State Park – ancient redwood forest in north California
LAKE TAHOE – major center for recreation, enclosed by high mountains
PALM SPRINGS – exclusive city surrounded by deserts and mountains
POINT LOBOS State Reserve – beautiful, rocky peninsula with abundant wildlife, near Carmel and Big Sur
Algodones Dunes – vast sandy expanse in the far southeast
Andrew Molera State Park – Big Sur beaches and coastal bluffs
Big Pine Lakes – mountain lakes high in the Sierra Nevada, beneath Palisade Glacier
Box Canyon – twisting, eroded ravine, part of the San Andreas Fault
Calico Ghost Town Regional Park – partially restored silver mining town northeast of Barstow
Castle Crags State Park – sculptured granite cliffs in far north California
Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park – redwood groves alongside the Pacific Ocean
Donner Memorial State Park – historic location with a relaxing setting
Emerald Bay State Park – scenic inlet on the west side of Lake Tahoe, containing Fannette Island
Garrapata State Park – beautiful section of the Big Sur coastline
Giant Sequoia National Monument – many groves of giant sequoia trees, in the southern Sierra Nevada mountains
Griffith Park – hilly city park overlooking Hollywood and Los Angeles
Hat Creek Volcanic Area – lava flows, craters, cinder cones and lava caves, near Lassen Volcanic NP
Hot Creek Geological Area – hot springs and fumaroles close to Mammoth Lakes, part of the Long Valley Caldera
Humboldt Lagoons State Park – forested lagoons beside the northern Pacific coast
Jacumba Outstanding Natural Area – desert and mountains near the Mexican border
Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park – giant redwoods in the far northwest
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park – a coastal waterfall, beaches, cliffs and wooded hills, along Big Sur
Lost Coast – the wildest and least developed stretch of California’s Pacific coast
MacKerricher State Park – sand dunes, beaches and tidepools, on the Pacific coast north of Fort Bragg
Mammoth Lakes – ski resort town at the edge of the Sierra Nevada
McArthur Burney Falls Memorial State Park – beautiful waterfall and a wooded lake
Mono Lake – unusual lake in the eastern Sierra Nevada foothills
Mount Shasta – snow-capped volcano in the Cascade range
Pinnacles National Natural Landmark – strange spires in the desert south of Trona
Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park – coastal redwoods near Crescent City
Point Arena – unusual rocks and a historic lighthouse, along the Pacific coast
Rainbow Basin National Natural Landmark – weathered desert canyons and badlands
Red Rock Canyon State Park – exposed, eroded, colorful strata
Route 66 – long section of the old highway through the Mojave Desert
Saddleback Butte State Park – isolated peak in Antelope Valley, in the southern Mojave Desert
Salt Point State Park – undeveloped section of the north California coastline, with unusual sandstone formations
Salton Sea – large, shallow, salty inland lake bordering Imperial Valley
San Bernardino Mountains – steep-sided range northeast of San Bernardino, including Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear Lake
San Gabriel Mountains – hilly area providing a refuge from Los Angeles
Sonoma Coast State Park – 15 miles of beaches, cliffs and coastal grasslands, in Sonoma County, north California
Tomales Bay State Park – sheltered inlet at the edge of Point Reyes
Torrey Pines State Reserve – dunes and sandstone cliffs north of San Diego
Trinidad State Beach – beautiful section of the north California coastline
Vasquez Rocks County Park – exposed, angular strata north of Los Angeles

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: