National Parks of California

For those who like the call of the wild, California has it in spades. The state has 270 state parks, 19 national forests, more than a dozen major mountain ranges, 14 million acres of federal wilderness area, 32 million acres of forest and 21 million acres of desert.

However, it is California’s national parks – the state has 9 in total, more than any other state – that are its shining glory, and they offer the chance to see and experience some of America’s most magnificent scenery. From the famous Yosemite National Park to the desert parks of Joshua Tree and Death Valley, there is so much to explore.

 

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

One of the gems of the US National Park system and one of the most well-known, Yosemite became a national park in 1890 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.

Covering nearly 1,100 square miles, the park is probably most famous for its plunging waterfalls and the dramatic granite monoliths such as the Half Dome and El Capitan. Natural beauty abounds throughout from the walls of Yosemite Valley to the alpine splendour of Tuolumne Meadows.

Kings Canyon National Park

Kings Canyon & Sequoia National Parks

These two adjacent national parks are more remote  and less well-known than Yosemite and the vast majority of their interior is back-country wilderness. Revered for their huge sequoia trees along with amazing scenery that ranges from forested foothills to high mountains and deep canyons including the Kings River Canyon, one of the deepest in North America.

The parks are also home to some of America’s tallest mountains, including 14,494-foot-high Mt Whitney, the highest in the contiguous United States.

Death Valley National Park

Death Valley & Joshua Tree Parks

The 3.3 million-acre Death Valley is the hottest, driest and lowest National Park in America; temperatures can soar up to 49C,  average annual rainfall is 2 inches of annual rainfall and its lowest elevation rests at 282 feet below sea level. In contrast, its highest peak reaches 11,049 feet, towering above colossal sand dunes, below-sea-level salt flats and colourful sandstone canyons.

Joshua Tree National Park lies where the two deserts of Colorado and Mojave meet;   as well as the unique branching yucca forests, the park’s surreal landscape is also home to a fascinating variety of other plants and geological features.

Redwood National Park

Redwood National & State Parks

This network of parks, comprising three state parks and Redwood National Park, lies midway between San Francisco and Portland, Oregon.

Home to the world’s largest contiguous coastal redwood forest, Redwood National Park is the surviving remnant of an ancient forest that once covered much of the West Coast. Here you can find some of the tallest trees on earth, growing right up to the ocean edge and up to 370 feet tall, as well as herds of elk and driftwood-strewn coastline.

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