3 National Parks in California You Must See

California is packed with a lot of fascinating places to see and experience - whether it's theme parks or natural playgrounds. Learn more of the Golden State's protected and preserved lands before your next adventure.
Yosemite National Park
  • Location: Mariposa Country, central California with the Sierra Nevada encompassing it
  • 1984 UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • First known for its waterfalls, however, this vast mountain region in east-central California which was protected in 1864, encompasses nearly 1,200 sq miles of peaks, vast valleys, meadows, wildlife, towering sequoias, and more.
  • Spring is the ideal time to witness these majestic waterfalls. Yosemite Falls, the highest in the park (and in North America) flows from 2,425 ft. and is composed of three separate falls: Upper Yosemite Falls, the middle cascades, and the Lower Yosemite Falls. One of the park's fascinating views is the Horsetail Falls with its flowing lava-like reflection of the orange sunset glow. Other falls include the Sentinel Falls (2,000 ft.), Ribbon Falls (1,612 ft.), Bridal Veil Falls (620 ft.), Nevada Falls (594 ft.), Vernal Falls (317 ft.), Illilouette Falls (370 ft.), Wapama Falls (1,400 ft.), and Chilnualna Falls (2,200 ft.).
  • Other views worthy of seeing are the Mount Lyell (highest summit) and the Yosemite Valley with its U-shaped valley, which features several highlights such as domes (like the popular El Capitan and Half Dome) and peaks.
  • What to do: While camping is among the most popular things to try here, there are several activities that can make your visit more fun-filled and rewarding. From the most relaxed like jogging, bird watching, fishing, having picnics and stargazing or adrenaline-pumping escapades such as hiking, biking, rock climbing, and winter sports, there's never a dull moment in this park.
Redwood National and State Park
  • Location: Northwestern California
  • 1980 UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • The 131,983 acres-park stretches along the California coast from Crescent City to Klamath River and Orick Town. It preserves the old-growth forest, home to the tallest tree - the coast redwood, including three state parks namely Jedediah Smith Redwoods, Del Norte Coast Redwoods, and Prairie Creek Redwoods. Not just a vast forest of 500-700-year-old towering trees, but the national and state park also features a coastline along the beautiful Pacific. Among the many species of wildlife that reside in the vast park are coyotes, black bear, bobcats, and a common sighting of the Roosevelt elk. There is an abundance in the species of birds, which are categorized by their habitat. Those of the estuaries, ponds, and wetlands include diving and dabbling ducks, herons, bald eagles, peregrine falcons; endangered California brown pelicans on beaches; ocean birds, those nesting in rugged cliffs and rocky seamounts certain species of cormorants, sea ducks, and loons.
  • What to do: Hiking, camping, scenic drives, bird watching, whale watching (during migration), and educational programs are some of the famous activities in this park.
Pinnacles National Park
  • Location: West-central California
  • One of the newest national parks known for its volcanic spires, rare talus caves, impressive rock formations, and home to species of New World vultures called the California condors. An estimate of 26,000 acres, the park is divided into the east and west side.
  • Geologists say that the famous formations are part of a volcanic region from about 23 million years ago. Apart from the tectonic forces which resulted in the movement of some parts of this volcanic field, time, wind, and water have beautifully sculpted this geologic wonderland as well. Pinnacles were said to have moved about 195 miles south of its current location and is still moving yearly at about 3 - 6 centimeters.
  • Among the park’s highlights are the trails ranging from the short and easy to the most adventurous ones; the Balconies Cave and Bear Gulch Cave, the High Peaks, and the Bear Gulch Reservoir.
  • What to do: Not only is Pinnacles famous for its picnic grounds and various hiking trails, but also for bird-watching, camping, exploring cave trail, and rock climbing.