California’s parks are among the best among the 50 states in the United States, for their stunning landscapes made up of colossal groves, strange rock formations, volcanic peaks, steamy soils and surreal deserts.

Here is a list of the 14 best parks in California where you will have the pleasure of enjoying the best of North American nature.

1. Joshua Tree National Park

Let’s start with the desert area, part of the Colorado and Mojave deserts: Joshua Tree National Park.

Rugged mountains, massive boulders, and rugged desert plant life make Joshua Tree National Park one of the best places to visit in California.

This desert area has captivated nature lovers for years with its stunning landscapes, especially in the upper reaches where the Mojave Desert connects with the lower areas of the Colorado Desert.

The main tree in the park is one that the first Mormon colonizers of the territory found similar to the biblical prophet, Joshua, successor of Moses, when he raised his arms to heaven asking for divine help.

Joshua trees take on majestic and curious shapes that seem to change with the passing of the hours. Although they grow only 2 cm a year at most, they can reach more than 200 years and heights of over 12 meters. When they flower they paint the desert with their pale yellow tones.

In the park there are hiking trails and places for rock climbing. Many Californian musicians go to the groves for inspiration, and some roadside venues host concerts.

Enjoy below the following video that shows this incredible park:

2. Yosemite National Park

Yosemite is one of the most famous California parks in the world, becoming an iconic place where hikers gather for the weekend to hit the trails.

Its spectacular landscapes, beautiful wildlife, beautiful waterfalls, cliffs and redwoods, bring thousands of people every year who want an adventure or rest.

You can ski in the winter and camp in the summer near the Merced and Tuolumne rivers, which form waterfalls and lakes. If you like, you will also practice mountain biking, rafting, swimming and horseback riding.

From the top of Glacier Point there are excellent views and the rock structures of Half Dome, Lost Arrow, Sentinel Rock and Washington Column, are impressive. It has a varied fauna and flora along its climatic ladder of 600 and 4000 meters above sea level.

Yosemite National Park was created in 1890 and is more than 3,000 km 2 in area. You can stay in shelters in nearby towns.

See below this video with a great aerial view of this park:

3. Lassen Volcanic National Park

A national park in northeastern California filled with fumaroles, hot springs, and boiling mud pots produced by the shifting of the Gorda tectonic plate under the North American plate.

It is a special place because it is one of the few places in the world that is home to all 4 types of volcanoes: plug dome, cinder cone, shield and stratovolcano. His last period of activity was between 1914 and 1921.

The steamy sulfur-filled park and hot pools draw visitors year-round, with its misty hot springs, bubbling mud pools and magnificent scenery.

Green forests and crystal clear lakes complement the heavenly setting. It has hiking trails, the most challenging being those that go to the summit of Pico Lassen, the main elevation of the park with 1594 meters above sea level.

Lassen Peak is the largest plug-dome volcano in the world and the southernmost volcanic formation in the Cascade Range.

The Lassen Volcanic National Park is 431 km 2 . It was established in 1916, although in 1907 President Theodore Roosevelt had designated two national monuments in the area: Lassen Peak and Cinder Cone.

4. Death Valley National Park

It is one of the most extreme places on the planet with a temperature record of 56.7 °C and up to 400 hours of burning sun per month in summer.

In the valley it rains barely 60 mm a year, most of this water in winter. However, beautiful wild flowers emerge from its dry soil that improve the view.

Surreal landscape photographers love its bizarre rock formations, sands, and natural lookouts, while hikers pack their water supplies with the trail ahead in mind.

Several generations of Americans washed their clothes thanks to Death Valley. The borax used in the manufacture of detergents was extracted from the natural deposits of the valley and transported in carts pulled by mules. The 20 Mule Team Borax detergent brand, created in 1891, is still on the market.

Take a look at this video below showing this valley:

5. Redwood National Park

Park fronting the ocean shoreline of Northern California with about 1/3 of the world’s remaining Coastal Redwoods. It is a wildlife paradise where towering trees tower over everything around them.

King salmon swim up the rivers from the sea, while sea lions frolic on the shoreline and the northern spotted owl waits for the night to hunt.

The scenes of the Moon of Endor, from Star Wars, were filmed in these places, so you have probably already seen its colossal redwoods, at least in the movies.

These unusual ecosystems were declared a World Heritage Site and a Biosphere Reserve in 1980 and 1983, respectively.

Redwood National Park is part of the state park system of the same name, along with Prairie Creek State Park, North Shore State Park, and Jedediah Smith State Park.

Appreciate several shots of this incredible forest in the following video:

6. Devils Postpile National Monument

In the heart of California’s Sierra Nevada Mountain Range is this national monument, whose main attraction is impressive basalt columns that have fascinated visitors for years.

The rocky structures were formed in the aftermath of an ancient volcanic eruption, when lava flowed down the slopes of the mountains leaving strange columns superstitiously associated with the devil.

They are located near Mammoth Mountain, a complex of lava domes west of the Californian town of Mammoth Lakes.

The national monument covers an area of ​​323 hectares and includes the Rainbox Falls formed by the San Joaquin River. The name of the waterfall is due to the rainbow that forms in the mist of water on sunny days.

The erosion of the falling water undermines the terrain, causing it to lose support to the upper rock face, which causes the water curtain to recede. The phenomenon has already produced a retreat of the waterfall of about 150 meters.

Hiking trails that pass near Rainbox Falls and Mammoth Lakes are very popular in the summer.

Enjoy this tour of this amazing national park:

7. Sequoia National Park / Kings Canyon National Park

These are the parks in California that are most liked by observers of the living giants of nature, due to their imposing sequoias, the largest trees in the plant kingdom.

The Secuoyas National Park and the Cañón de los Reyes National Park, south of the Sierra Nevada, are adjacent and you can pay a single access to both.

The impressive redwoods are high above the rapids of the rivers, while the smaller species are relegated to tens of meters below. Snow-capped peaks and sun-kissed foothills form shimmering landscapes, mesmerizing visitors.

In Sequoia National Park is the largest known tree on Earth: the General Sherman, 84 meters high, with a trunk 11 meters in diameter and 3,200 years old.

In the Cañón de los Reyes National Park lives General Grant, the world’s second-largest vegetal colossus with 81.5 meters in height, 8.8 meters in diameter and 1,650 years.

Another attraction in Sequoia National Park is Mount Whitney, at 4,418 meters above sea level, the highest peak in the US outside of Alaska.

Here is a video that captures different shots of one of these beautiful parks:

8. Point Reyes National Seaboard

Punta Reyes is a prominent cape in Marin County in northern California, 50 km northwest of San Francisco.

The jagged territory juts out into the Pacific, forming remote and beautiful bays and wild meadows, teeming with rare plants and wild moose.

It is a paradise for nature lovers and a perfect place for children to discover and learn secrets of natural life.

It is an ideal place for whale watching, whose sighting occurs mainly in winter, waiting for the vibrant spring to cover the ground with beautiful flowers.

The beaches of Point Reyes are perfect for strolling while watching birds with beautiful plumage and the sky is dressed in colors with the arrival of sunset.

Among the parks near San Francisco, California, Point Reyes is the one that allows you to visit it on a day trip from the city by the bay.

The cape was baptized as Punto de los Reyes in 1606 by the Extremaduran explorer Sebastián Vizcaíno, a pioneer in mapping the California coast.

Check out these incredible shots of this cape in California:

9. Griffith Park

Park of more than 1700 hectares covered with chaparral, groves, landscaped green areas, picnic areas and various attractions, in the eastern Santa Monica mountain range, being the largest and most diverse among the recreational parks in Los Angeles California and one of the spaces Largest urban wildlife parks in the US

It is located west of the Golden State Freeway (I-5), between Los Feliz Boulevard to the south and the Ventura Freeway (SR 134) to the north.

Among its main attractions are the Griffith Astronomical Observatory, the Autry Museum of the American West, the Bronson Caves, the Equestrian Center, the Los Angeles Zoo and the Botanical Gardens.

Other attractions in the park include the Greek Theatre, the Southern Railway and the Carousel.

It has elevations that vary between 115 and 500 meters above sea level, one of them being Mount Lee, where the Hollywood Sign is, an iconic symbol of Los Angeles.

The park has representative plants of the Californian flora such as coastal sage, oak, hickory, mountain mahagony, California sumac, and some threatened species such as berberis and manzanita.

Enjoy this short video showing the amazing structure of this spotter:

10. Golden Gate Park

This San Francisco urban park is a 412-hectare rectangle, 20% larger than New York’s Central Park.

It receives more than 13 million visits a year and is the fifth most popular in the United States. It can be explored on foot and for a fee, by minibus.

Among its main attractions are the great Dutch mill, the groves with giant ferns, the fragrance garden designed for blind people, the Japanese garden with pagodas and bonsai, the lakes and the Shakespeare Garden, which has 200 flowers mentioned in the works of the English poet and playwright.

The Golden Gate Park was created in the 1870s and in 1894 some American buffalo settled. The area where the descendants of these first animals live is one of the most popular in the area.

Other places of interest are the de Young Museum dedicated to fine arts and the California Academy of Sciences, one of the most important natural history museums in the world.

Here is a video that shows several shots of this majestic Golden Gate Bridge:

11. Channel Islands National Park

The Channel Islands make up one of the national parks in Los Angeles, California, which are more quickly accessible to visitors from Great Orange.

It is made up of 5 islands in southern California (San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Anacapa, Santa Bárbara and Santa Cruz) and goes from Punta Concepción, near the city of Santa Bárbara, to the coast in front of the Los Angeles neighborhood of San Pedro.

Its visitor center is in the city of Ventura, 140 km northwest of Los Angeles. Despite facing a densely populated continental area, the Channel Islands have preserved their beautiful natural surroundings and the vital wealth of their ecosystems, which is why they are called the “Galapagos of America”.

More than 2,000 species of flora and fauna live on the islands, some of which are endemic to these insular territories, such as the Channel Islands fox, the spotted fox, the island fence lizard and the deer mouse.

Other animals that you will be able to see are the California sea lion, harbor seal, owl, kestrel, brown pelican and skylark.

Blue and humpback whales visit the park in their migration season.

Watch this incredible adventure to Anacapa Island, one of the islands of the “Channel Islands” National Park:

12. Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

It is a 2,000-acre preserve on the coast of La Jolla, San Diego. Although it can be considered as an urban park for being in the limits of the metropolitan area of ​​San Diego, it is really a wild territory of 8 km 2 formed by the coast, a lagoon, cliffs and an abundance of wildlife, bordered by the City of Del Mar and by the Torrey Pines Municipal Golf Course.

It is a plateau with steep cliffs overlooking Torrey Pines beach and a lagoon essential for the life cycle of migratory seabird species.

It has more than 12 km of trails with walkers and hikers directed to the beach and the cliffs of the coast, to admire the landscape with the towns of La Jolla and Del Mar in the distance.

The cliffs are used as lookout points for whale watching during migration season. On top of a hill there is a small museum dedicated to local natural history.

Among the species of flora is the Torrey pine, the rarest and rarest in the United States.

Here is a video that captures shots of the La Jolla coastline in the Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve:

13. Pinnacles National Park

It was decreed in 2013 by President Obama, being the most recent national park in the state, although in 1908 the president, Theodore Roosevelt, had promulgated the Pinnacles National Monument.

Pinnacles stands out among California parks for its sheer cliffs and rock formations created by volcanic activity more than 20 million years ago.

Several volcanoes erupted and lava flows formed the structures and pinnacles that give the park its desert-like beauty.

Between the cavities and hollows, soil was accumulated where wild plants grow that flourish and give the park a pleasant color in spring and summer.

As usual in the desert, the blue sky and the heat of the day give way to the cool of the night and the Pinnacles National Park becomes a place to camp and observe the starry sky.

It is located in the Valle de las Salinas, it is 107 km 2 and is shared by the counties of Monterey and San Benito, in central California.

It has caves where several species of bats live. The natural rock walls of the park are used for rappelling and climbing.

Enjoy this interesting national park in California with incredible pinnacles:

14. Angel Island State Park

The largest island in the San Francisco Bay has beautiful views of the city, the Golden Gate Bridge and Marin County. It is located northeast of Alcatraz Island and was the scene of important historical events in San Francisco and California, since the 18th century.

It was baptized as Isla de los Angeles by the Spanish sailor, Juan de Ayala, in 1775, the first European to enter the San Francisco Bay. The name changed over time to Angel Island.

At the end of the 19th century, it was the quarantine station where immigrants and boats were held before their arrival at the port of San Francisco was authorized.

Angel Island was home to the US Immigration Station known as the “Guardian of the West Coast”, between 1910 and 1940, where more than a million immigrants from more than 80 countries were processed.

The island was an infantry barracks during the civil war and a Nike missile base during the Cold War.

The place is frequented for camping, picnics, hiking and biking, boating and kayaking, observing biodiversity and learning about its history.

Check out this amazing video showcasing this island:

What parks are there in Los Angeles California?

Los Angeles combines natural, theme and amusement parks, like few cities in the world.

The natural spaces are headed by Griffith Park and its green areas dotted with cultural entertainment such as the Observatory and the Autry Museum.

Runyon Canyon is another 150-acre Los Angeles natural park with several walking trails and other attractions.

The city’s theme parks are led by Universal Studios and among the amusement parks, Pacific Park in Santa Monica stands out.

What natural parks to visit in California?

California’s national parks are well connected and properly equipped to receive thousands of visitors.

The parks of Yosemite, Joshua Trees, Lassen Volcanic National Park and other protected Californian federal spaces, have spectacular natural monuments, beaches, volcanoes, hot springs and recreation sites, as well as good service infrastructure.

California Parks: Anaheim, the Beginning of Disney

The Disney California parks are located in Anaheim, the city chosen by Walt Disney in the 1950s to build Disneyland Park, the first of his iconic themed entertainment centers.

The Disneyland California complex also includes Disneyland Resort and Disney California Adventure. The first of these is a vacation complex of several themed hotels in Anaheim, in the same environment as the parks.

Have you been to any of these California parks? Which one did you like the most?

Share this article with your friends on social networks so that they also know the 14 best parks in California.


See also:

  • Click to learn about the 24 best National Parks in the United States that you must visit
  • Read here our guide on the 28 best tourist places in the United States to visit
  • We leave you here the 12 best things to do and see in Big Bear

Scroll to Top
Scroll to Top