Best National Parks in California, United States

Best National Parks in California, United States

Looking for the best national parks in California?? Here’s the list with all the travel information you need to plan a family tour.

California is home to the most number of National parks in the United States. Featuring 28 impressive national parks, they include historic sites, national monuments, seashores, and recreational areas.

Obviously, these national parks offer you a diversification from lush peaks like Sierra Nevada Mountains to desert lands like Death Valley.

Especially, the Yosemite National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, Redwood National and State Parks, Point Reyes National Seashore, and Death Valley National Park draw millions of visitors annually. 

Whether you are looking for rock climbing, hiking, visiting waterfalls, winter sports, road trips, summer fun, or whatever, these national parks offer them all.

So, let’s discover the complete list of the best national parks in California. Read and add them to your bucket list.

National Parks in California

1. National Parks in California: Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is undoubtedly the most popular national park in California. It spreads over 3,000 km² on Central California’s Sierra Nevada mountains and draws over four million visitors annually.

National Parks in California Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park

And it is mostly famous for spectacular waterfalls, granite cliffs, giant, ancient sequoia trees, and Tunnel View.

Being a paradise for all-level hikers, rock climbers, and nature photographers, Yosemite National Park offers dramatic views of Mother Nature.

The outstanding Yosemite Valley is the most crowdest area in the park.

Aside from that, you can experience biking, backpacking, fishing, birding, horseback riding, hiking, rock climbing, ranger programs, camping, water activities, scenic drives, and winter activities like fun things with your friends and family.

El Capitan, Yosemite National Park
El Capitan, Yosemite National Park

The Monolithic granite peaks, El Capitan and Half Dome offer the most spectacular views of Yosemite National Park. And you can get those views from Tunnel View. 

Or, if you are an adventure seeker, just get permission and climb to the top.

Another impressive thing in the park is Yosemite Falls, a 2,425 feet high waterfall. You can view it from the distance or hike to the top too.

Along these hiking trails, you can observe diverse wildlife, birds, and breathtakingly beautiful nature views.

So, come with your family and grab all these experiences.

Address: California, United States  Phone: +1 209-372-0200

Do not miss these amazing waterfalls in California on your tour. 

National Parks in California

2. National Parks in California: Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park is a 13,650 km² park that spreads through eastern California and Nevada.

National Parks in California Death Valley National Park
Death Valley National Park

And it is considered the lowest, largest, driest, and hottest national park in the United States.

Usually, the park features temperatures of 120 degrees Fahrenheit during summer.

Although it calls “Death Valley,” it is full of life with mountain-sized dunes, wildflowers, desert basins, salt flats, mysterious moving rocks, slot canyons, and old gold mines.

Death Valley National Park, California
Death Valley National Park, California

Especially if you visit the Badwater Basin region, you get a chance to explore the polygon salt formation located 280 feet below sea level.

What is the best time to visit Death Valley National Park?

Spring (late March to early April) is the best and the most popular season because you get a chance to see the super wildflower bloom.

Aside from that, Death Valley’s other dynamic environments include Mesquite Flats with mountain-sized sand dunes and Devils Golf Course with salt crystals.

If you like camping in Death Valley, head to the Furnace Creek area that features seasonal campgrounds, lodging options, and a visitor center.

Plan your weekend getaway to Death Valley National Park with your adventurous friends.

Phone: +1 760-786-3200

National Parks in California

3. National Parks in California: Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is one of the most attractive parks that spread for 3,200 km² in California.

It is mainly known for adventurous bouldering, rock climbing, beautiful night skies, and ancient, scraggly trees.

National Parks in California Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park

Featuring a unique desert landscape, Joshua Tree National Park offers you plenty of scenic hiking trails.

So, you can experience hiking, backpacking, biking, rock climbing, horseback riding, birding, wildlife viewing, stargazing, camping, and ranger programs in this national park.

If you are not into hiking, RoadRunner Shuttle will help you to go throughout the park.

It is impossible to grab all these experiences within one day. So, the best way to explore the park is to camp at Jumbo Rocks Campground. It features 120 campsites suitable for solo travelers and families.

The peak season starts in October and runs through May. It is better to avoid the summer months as the temperature rises.

Joshua Tree National Park CA
Joshua Tree National Park

If you are looking for a cool place in Joshua Tree National Park, head to spring-fed oases marked by palm trees. The park has several spring-fed oases with some shade and cooler temperatures.

Another important thing not to miss in Joshua Tree National Park is the incredible sunset views. When the sun rays filter through the desert landscape, you can see beautiful sunsets.

On the other hand, Joshua Tree is perfect for stargazing with your kids. So, reserve your camping site now.

Phone: +1 760-367-5500

National Parks in California

4. Point Reyes National Seashore

Point Reyes National Seashore is a 287.4 km² scenic national park located on Northern California’s coastline.

Point Reyes National Seashore
Point Reyes National Seashore

The park features 150 miles of hiking trails, lush forests, plenty of wild beaches, and marshes of the national seashore.

Therefore, you can experience boating, hiking, fishing, horseback riding, kayaking, cycling, ranger programs, and visiting the Point Reyes Lighthouse like outdoor activities with your family.

Point Reyes National Seashore California
Point Reyes Lighthouse, Point Reyes National Seashore

If you like to discover diverse wildlife and the Pacific Ocean’s marine life, Point Reyes National Seashore is the best place for that.

For example, you can spot elk, seals, massive elephant seals nursing or mating their babies on the beach, and migrating grey whales in the near distance.

Also, the beaches in Point Reyes National Seashore are fantastic, with breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. One of the top attractions in Point Reyes National Seashore is Alamere Falls, one of only two known tidefalls in California.

So, plan for a hike or camp with your family to Point Reyes.

Address: Point Reyes Station, CA 94956, United States  Phone: +1 415-464-5137

National Parks in California

5. Redwood National and State Parks

Redwood National and State Parks is a huge park that spreads for 562.51 km2 of land. And it is home to some of the world’s tallest trees. Therefore, it is a paradise for nature lovers.

Redwood National and State Parks CA
Redwood National and State Parks

Aside from 350-foot high Redwood trees, Redwood National and State Parks also protect forests, grasslands along Northern California’s coastline, prairies, and wild rivers.

So, it offers plenty of fun outdoor activities, including wildlife viewing, hiking, cycling, horseback riding, kayaking, and tide pooling.

Enderts Beach is an attractive beach area in the park that features colorful wildflowers. And another lovely area in this park is Fern Canyon, a lush canyon.

Redwood National and State Parks, California
Redwood National and State Parks

Nobody can explore this incredible natural wonder within one day. So, the best option is to plan camping. Redwoods features a developed campground and offers you a chance to stay overnight.

Here’s some information about the park:

Redwood National Park manages three popular state parks named Del Norte Coast, Jedediah Smith, and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Parks. And there are five visitor centers to provide more information. So, start from one of them.

Phone: +1 707-464-6101

National Parks in California

6. National Parks in California: Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen Volcanic National Park is a unique park located in northern California. It is home to geologic wonders like volcanoes, hot springs, and steaming fumaroles.

National Parks in California Lassen Volcanic National Park
Lassen Volcanic National Park

Therefore, Lassen Volcanic National Park is as famous as Yosemite National Park. Whenever you visit this park, it offers something different.

It fills with colorful wildflowers during spring, while the summer offers plenty of hiking trails to gorgeous alpine lakes. And the winter is perfect for skiing, snowshoeing, and all the other winter activities.

Suppose you are looking for backpacking, biking, scenic drives, hiking, rock climbing, ranger programs, swimming, boating, fishing, stargazing, and winter activities from the same destination. In that case, Lassen Volcanic National Park is perfect.

Lassen Volcanic National Park CA
Lassen Volcanic National Park

Especially, the areas like Devils Kitchen and Bumpass Hell in this park offer boardwalk trails through scenic and dynamic environments.

On the other hand, you can swim in the beautiful Manzanita Lake to cool off your body after hiking in the hot summer.

When it comes to rock climbing, Lassen Peak is a star. It promises breathtaking views at the end.

Finally, do not miss an overnight camp at Drakesbad Guest Ranch to stargaze with your family and friends.

Phone: +1 530-595-4480

National Parks in California

7. Kings Canyon National Park

Both Kings Canyon National Park and Sequoia National Park are located in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains. Although they are adjoined parks, each one features diverse natural wonders.

Kings Canyon National Park
Kings Canyon National Park

Kings Canyon National Park is home to thousands of enormous sequoia trees, including the General Grant Tree, the second largest giant sequoia tree in the world.

And it offers one of the most stunning views in the Sierra Mountains through sequoia trees. Also, it is home to diverse wildlife, including mule deers and black bears.

Therefore, Kings Canyon National Park is like a paradise for backpackers, hikers, and nature lovers.

Aside from that, visitors can experience camping, fishing, horseback riding, rock climbing, ranger programs, and viewing the amazing Sequoia trees.

Driving along the Kings Canyon Scenic Byway is also one of the best ways to explore this national park.

Address: 47050 Generals Hwy, Three Rivers, CA 93271, United States  Phone: +1 559-565-3341

National Parks in California

8. Sequoia National Park, California 

Located adjacent to Kings Canyon National Park, Sequoia National Park is also known for giant sequoia trees.

Sequoia National Park, California 
Sequoia National Park

Especially, it is home to General Sherman Tree, the largest known living single-stem tree in the world. On the other hand, Sequoia National Park features an underground wonder called Crystal Cave, a unique marble karst cave.

Both of them are located in the park’s Giant Forest area.

Crystal Cave, Sequoia National Park
Crystal Cave, Sequoia National Park

Also, Sequoia National Park features scenic alpine lakes, snowy peaks, and scenic granite domes like Moro Rock.

So, you can enjoy hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, camping, fishing, horseback riding, ranger programs, and giant Sequoia trees on this tour.

Lodgepole Campground is there with all the facilities for camp lovers. So, let’s plan for a family camp at Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks this weekend.

9. National Parks in California: Pinnacles National Park

Established in 2013, Pinnacles National Park is one of the latest national parks in the United States. And it is home to rare talus caves, high rock spires, and ancient volcanoes.

National Parks in California Pinnacles National Park
Pinnacles National Park

Due to the old eruptions of volcanoes, Pinnacles National Park features unique landscaped formed by lava.

Located in a remote area east of the Salinas Valley in Central California, this national park is 80 miles southeast of San Jose.

The park is split into two sections called West and East, which are not connected by a main road.

However, you can enjoy birding, caving, rock climbing, camping, and hiking like outdoor activities on the Pinnacles National Park tour. So, add it to your bucket list.

Address:  California 95043, United States  Phone: +1 831-389-4485

National Parks in California

10. Golden Gate National Recreation Area

The Golden Gate National Recreation Area protects 82,027 acres of land near the San Francisco Bay Area.

Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Golden Gate National Recreation Area

Featuring the Golden Gate, one of the most famous bridges in the world, this recreation area offers plenty of outdoor recreation opportunities. Such as wildlife viewing, participating in fun festivals, camping, hiking, and ranger programs.

Aside from that, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area offers more information about California’s indigenous history and cultures.

Especially, this expansive recreational area is to the iconic Muir Woods National Monument, one of the very first national monuments in the United States. It protects rare coastal redwoods outside San Francisco. Therefore, it is more famous among hikers.

Also, this national park owns Alcatraz Island, the famous prison island too.

Since this is one of the most dog-friendly national parks, bring your dog too.

Address: Mill Valley, CA 94941, United States  Phone: +1 415-561-4700

National Parks in California

11. Channel Islands National Park

Channel Islands National Park includes five ecologically rich islands off the western coast of California. They are Anacapa Island, Santa Cruz Island, Santa Rosa Island, San Miguel Island, and Santa Barbara Island.

Channel Islands National Park CA
Channel Islands National Park

If you are looking for an escape from the busy world, Channel Islands National Park is perfect. And it offers you a chance to see the way of Southern California before urbanization.

Still, these islands are untouched and do not feature amenities. So, bring your requirements from home.

Once you access these islands via a boat or a seaplane, you will see plenty of native fauna and flora.

So, this national parks is a paradise for wildlife viewing, hiking, backpacking, bird watching, camping, boating, hiking, paddling, ranger programs, diving, snorkeling, surfing, fishing, and tide-pooling.

Undoubtedly, Santa Cruz is the most famous island in the Channel Islands National Park. Its Scorpion Ranch Campground attracts a lot of campers during summer.

Address: Ventura, CA 93001, United States  Phone: +1 805-658-5730

National Parks in California

12. National Parks in California: Devils Postpile National Monument

Located near Mammoth Mountain in Eastern California, Devils Postpile National Monument is home to an unusual columnar basalt rock formation.

National Parks in California Devils Postpile National Monument
Devils Postpile National Monument

This national monument spreads for 798 acres of land and features a rare 60-feet high columnar basalt formation called Devils Postpile. Actually, it considers one of the best columnar basalts in the world.

During summer, if you visit Devils Postpile National Monument, you can experience many outdoor activities, including fishing, cycling, hiking, ranger programs, horseback riding, and wildlife watching.

Hikers can try the long-distance Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail.

Since the park covers with snow during the winter months, you can experience all the winter games like skiing and snowshoe too.

Address: Devils Postpile Access Road, Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546, United States  Phone: +1 209-372-0200

National Parks in California

13. Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area is one of the best places in California for hiking and picnicking.

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area

It features 500+ miles of mountainous and flat hiking trails through coastal chaparral with scenic views. And also, there are picnic areas to enjoy time with family.

While hiking, you can see several old filming locations used for television series and movies. Aside from hiking, you can also experience backpacking, tent camping, RV camping, cycling, climbing, picnicking, and horseback riding.

The most attractive areas in Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area are Point Mugu State Park, Solstice Canyon, and Paramount Ranch.

If you are looking for an escape from the busy streets of Los Angeles, here’s the perfect place for that.

Address: 26876 Mulholland Hwy, Calabasas, CA 91302, United States  Phone: +1 805-370-2301

National Parks in California

14. National Parks in California: Mojave National Preserve

Mojave National Preserve in Southern California is one of the hottest and driest places in the United States. The preseason for that is its desert landscape.

National Parks in California Mojave National Preserve
Mojave National Preserve

But, this incredible desert landscape features the largest grove of Joshua trees, woodland, sand dunes, cinder cone volcanoes, rugged mountains, canyons, and diverse wildlife.

You can spot coyotes, mountain lions, bats, and much other wildlife in this national park.

Although Mojave National Preserve is close to Las Vegas and Los Angeles, it considers one of the best wilderness areas in Califonia. So, it is totally worth planning for a day trip with your family.

On your tour, you can experience scenic drives, backpacking, hiking, camping, horseback riding, hunting, viewing wildflowers, and ranger programs.

Especially, you can hike sand mounds of the Kelso Dunes to hear its “singing” sounds. On the other hand, Cima Dome features a large granite mass covered with Joshua trees.

So, catch them all on your day trip.

Address: 90942 Kelso Cima Rd, Essex, CA 92332, United States  Phone: +1 760-252-6100

National Parks in California

15. Castle Mountains National Monument

Located between northeastern San Bernardino County and the eastern Mojave Desert, Castle Mountains National Monument protects 20,920 acres of desert land.

Castle Mountains National Monument CA
Castle Mountains National Monument

It was added to the list of the national parks recently (in 2016).

Showing unique features, you can see forests of Joshua trees, rare grasslands, and important information about human history.

Since this monument is accessible only by dirt roads, you will have to use high-clearance four-wheel-drive vehicles. Also, do not expect to have GPS and other facilities too.

So, Castle Mountains National Monument is perfect for hiking and scenic drives.

Address: Barstow, CA 92311, United States  Phone: +1 760-252-6100

National Parks in California

16. Whiskeytown National Recreation Area

Whiskeytown National Recreation Area is an incredible paradise for outdoor enthusiasts.

Whiskeytown National Recreation Area
Whiskeytown National Recreation Area

Its lakes feature crystal clear waters with scenic mountainous backdrops. Therefore, you can take beautiful nature photos, swim, boat, fish, and do many fun water activities.

Hikers can try 70 miles of hiking trails and several stunning waterfalls in Whiskeytown National Recreation Area.

Aside from that, excellent campgrounds and ranger programs are available for you.

Also, you get the chance to learn more about California’s Gold Rush.

Address: Whiskeytown, CA 96095, United States  Phone: +1 530-242-3400

National Parks in California

17. San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park is s famous historical park that features historic vessels, a maritime museum, a visitor center, and a library facility.

San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park
San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

Located in Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhood, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park offers you a chance to know more about maritime history.

Also, you can visit one of the ships with the park’s guide. So, come along with your kids; they will love it.

Address: San Francisco, CA 94109, United States  Phone: +1 415-447-5000

National Parks in California

18. National Parks in California: Manzanar National Historic Site

Manzanar National Historic Site is one of the American concentration camps where thousands of Japanese Americans were imprisoned during World War II from 1942 to 1945. And it is one of 10 such camps.

National Parks in California Manzanar National Historic Site
Manzanar National Historic Site

If you are a history buff, you can visit the visitor center and Manzanar National Historic Site museum to know more. Also, you can bike around this site to explore more.

Address: Manzanar Reward Rd, California, United States  Phone: +1 760-878-2194

National Parks in California

19. National Parks in California: Lava Beds National Monument

Lava Beds National Monument features a unique landscape with volcanoes, caves, and lava tubes formed by lava.

National Parks in California Lava Beds National Monument
Lava Beds National Monument

Covering over 46,692 acres of land, this monument contains over 800 caves. Therefore, it is ideal for adventurous caving, hiking, and ranger programs.

Lava Beds National Monument is located in Siskiyou and Modoc counties in northeastern California. So, it is an extremely remote area.

But, still, it is totally worth visiting this unique high desert wilderness.

Address: 1 Indian Wl, Tulelake, CA 96134, United States  Phone: +1 530-667-8100

National Parks in California

20. National Parks in California: Cabrillo National Monument

Cabrillo National Monument commemorates the landing of Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo at the southern tip of the Point Loma Peninsula in San Diego, CA. He was the explorer of the West Coast of North America in 1542.

National Parks in California Cabrillo National Monument
Cabrillo National Monument

So, if you visit Cabrillo National Monument, you can learn more about his story, natural and cultural resources in the area.

Visitors can go hiking, birding, biking, lighthouse, ranger programs, whale-watching, and tide-pooling.

Try it with your family.

Address: 1800 Cabrillo Memorial Dr, San Diego, CA 92106, United States  Phone: +1 619-557-5450

National Parks in California

National Parks in California

  • Yosemite National Park
  • Death Valley National Park
  • Joshua Tree National Park
  • Point Reyes National Seashore
  • Redwood National and State Parks
  • Lassen Volcanic National Park
  • Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park
  • Pinnacles National Park
  • Golden Gate National Recreation Area
  • Channel Islands National Park
  • Devils Postpile National Monument
  • Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
  • Mojave National Preserve
  • Castle Mountains National Monument
  • Whiskeytown National Recreation Area
  • San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park
  • Manzanar National Historic Site
  • Lava Beds National Monument
  • Cabrillo National Monument

National Parks in California