Sequoia And Kings Canyon National Park
Sequoia sits just south of Yosemite, adjacent to Kings Canyon, in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. Both of these together are technically two different national parks in California, but they do just flow into one (so to speak).
Once here, you’ll see the giant red sequoia trees (the worlds largest trees) that line the park and a whole heap of other cool spots like; Kings Canyon Byway (for some gorgeous views), visit General Sherman (to see the biggest single stem tree in the world) and hike towards Moro Rock. From here, you’ll get some awe-inspiring views over one of the prettiest national parks in California.
Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park is home to a mixing point of two desert ecosystems, the Mojave Desert and the Colorado Desert (which makes it totally unique). This dry, boulder-filled and barren national park is a thing of beauty and a great spot to explore if you’re coming from Europe. We just don’t have deserts like this.
Once inside the park, make sure to explore the other gorgeous sites like; Skull Rock, Mecca Hills (which is actually just outside the park) and so much more It really is one of the special national parks in California.
If it’s a hike you’re after, head over to the Hidden Valley. There are some pretty easy trails around here and it’s an almost out-of-this-world experience.
Redwood National and State Parks
Redwood National and State Parks isn’t just one of the singular national parks in California, it’s actually made up of multiple parks that spread across the coastline (which confused me initially). All of these are around five hours north of San Francisco (which makes it perfect if you want a little city and nature break combined).
Once here, you’ll find a mix of temperate rainforest, giant redwood trees and the lapping Pacific Ocean which makes for an idyllic setting. Now, you’ll need weeks to explore all of the Redwood National and State Parks but there are a few key spots you won’t wanna miss. Firstly, pop over to Fern Canyon (which sounds like exactly what it is), hike the Damnation Creek trail, see Prairie Creek Redwoods and explore Trinidad State Beach.
You won’t be disappointed.
Point Reyes National Park
Point Reyes National Park sits on the coast of northern California and gives us some wonderful views over the Pacific ocean. It’s the type of place where Jagged cliffs, cascading waterfalls and rolling hills all make for some epic vistas.
When it comes to things to do, seal spotting, kayaking and hiking are just a few of the more active elements of the park. Best of all, in my opinion, the park is also just past the Big Sur which should be on your bucket list, McWay Falls and Bixby Bridge are two epic California landmarks that you don’t want to miss. This means you can combine Big Sur and the Point Reyes quite easily on one trip.
Oh, and don’t forget to visit Point Reyes Headlands which are the very best places to view the annual gray whale migration, which is best to catch a glimpse between January-April each year.
Channel Islands National Park
The Channel Islands National Park is just off the coast of California, relatively close to Los Angeles. Now, obviously being one of the island national parks in California, you’ll only be able to access the islands boat, rich friends with their own boats, or super-rich friends with their own private planes!
Though don’t be fooled into thinking you need to spend a pretty penny to experience the Channel Islands National Park, it can be done relatively cheaply and is accessible with many day trips, too.
One thing to remember is that all wheeled transport is banned on the islands, this means it’ll be your two feet that’ll take you around the five islands. Once here, make sure to test your skills snorkelling, surfing, hiking, and kayaking.
If you do decide to stay a few days, make sure to see the most incredible sunrises from Inspiration Point on Anacapa Island – you’ll love it!