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Joshua Tree National Park, Mojave Desert, Californias top National Parks

5 of The Best National Parks in California

Discover California’s National Parks. From the towering trees of Sequoia to the otherworldly landscapes of Joshua Tree, each National park offers a unique and awe-inspiring experience. Here, we have collected the Best National Parks in California, to help inspire your Road trip plans.

Check out our Road Trip Itineraries that explore California’s National Parks… 

1. Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is a treasure! You will be amazed as you reach the colossal granite cliff faces and venture into the valley.

How big is Yosemite National Park? Yosemite National Park is as tall as it is wide. Ok, not quite, but it does feel that way! 1,100 square miles of giant trees, thunderous waterfalls, and granite cliff faces.

How do you pronounce Yosemite? ‘Yo-sem-it-ee’.

The top things to do in Yosemite National Park? 

  1.  There are so many different trails, all ranging in difficulty and elevation. Glacier Point, Lower Mariposa Grove, Mirror Lake, and Lower Yosemite Falls are among the more accessible hikes under a 2-mile round trip, each as rewarding to complete with such exceptional forest views! 
  2.  Keep an eye open at all times for wildlife! There are Black Bears in Yosemite, Mountain Lions and Bighorn Sheep. Whilst it’s unlikely you will come close to these Animals, you should ‘bear’ in mind that this is their home.
  3.  Rock Climbing – Whilst you may not be geared up for your own climb, you should be sure to check out the hardcore, expert climbers crawling up the granite faces. You will need binoculars to see this; look out for the guys suspended in mid-air. 
  4. Before you visit Yosemite National Park, take time to watch the breathtaking, Oscar-winning documentary ‘Free Solo,” which follows rock climber Alex Honnold on his quest to perform the very first free solo climb of Yosemite’s El Capitan … Gripping stuff!
  5.  Stop at the famous viewpoints! Yosemite’s Tunnel View, Glacier Point and Olmsted Point offer breathtaking views spanning miles. 
  6.  Depending on when your road tripping through California, you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of Yosemite’s famous ‘Firefall’! For a short period each February, each sunset brings a moment when the waterfall glows a warm orange, and it looks like the lava is flowing over the cliff. 

Click here to view our Road Trip Itineraries that explore Yosemite National Park…

Half Dome at Yosemite National Park, California, USA, top 5 best national parks in california

Half Dome at Yosemite National Park, California

2. Death Valley National Park

Extreme climate and geology form an inhospitable environment which makes you transcend onto another planet, such is the feeling of its tearing heat. Famous for being the hottest and driest place in the world, the roads here are superb, dipping and leaning through curves before straightening as you dip to 85m below sea level in the salt flats of Badwater.

Death Valley National Park is a land of magnificent, yet dangerous, extremes. This area recently broke the records for the highest recorded temperature on the planet! On August 16th, 2020, temperatures rose to 53°C, (130°F) which is the hottest Death Valley has been since 1913.

What to do in Death Valley National Park? Death Valley has extreme climates, making up 1.3 million hectares of intriguing desert landscapes. There are many ways to experience this landscape, including hiking, biking, climbing and horseback riding. Dante’s View gives you views of the entire valley, whilst Zabriskie Point is another famous viewing point. Badwater Basin is the lowest point in the US at 282 feet below sea level, where you can walk out onto the salty flats.

How much does it cost to enter Death Valley National Park? A fee of $30 per vehicle will allow access to the National Park for 7 days. 

Is there wildlife in Death Valley? Death Valley isn’t entirely inhabitable despite extreme drought and soaring temperatures. Surprisingly, Coyotes, Bats, Bobcats, Big Horn sheep and even the occasional Mountain Lion are among the wildlife making a home in this desert land.

Top Tip… Death Valley can be dangerous for those who are poorly prepared. So, be prepared by fuelling up the car and ensuring you’ve water before making the journey. 

Click here to view our Road Trip Itineraries that explore Death Valley National Park…

Death Valley National Park, California, Top 5 Best national parks in california

Death Valley National Park, California

3. Joshua Tree National Park

Visit Joshua Tree National Park, where the landscape looks otherworldly, like you’ve entered a Dr Seuss book! Enjoy unusual rock formations, peculiar plants, and views stretching miles over the Coachella Valley.

Where is Joshua Tree National Park? Joshua Tree National Park is straddling the Colorado and Mojave Deserts in California near Palm Springs. The crossover of deserts and ecosystems results in unusual fauna and flora, including the Joshua Tree.

What to do in Joshua Tree National Park? There are so many trails and hikes to explore within the park for all levels of adventurers. With unusual rock faces, such as Skull Rock, it is clear to see why the park is well known for its rock climbing! Catch a sunset or sunrise on your road trip through Joshua Tree. 

What is the weather like in Joshua Tree National Park? The weather in Joshua Tree National Park can be super hot in the summer and chilly through the winter, but at least the sky remains pretty clear all year round. Though it’s in the middle of the desert, Joshua Tree National Park occasionally witnesses rain and can even see snowfall. The ‘wet season’ runs from December through March. 

Click here to view our Road Trip Itineraries that explore Joshua Tree National Park…

Joshua Tree National Park, California, USA. Top 5 Best National Parks in California

Joshua Tree National Park, California

4. Sequoia National Park

High up in the mountain live the giants. Surrounded by deep canyons, and massive mountains, everything is huge! Visit Sequoia National Park. 

Where to find Sequoia National Park? You will find Sequoia National Park right beside Kings Canyon National Park high in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. As you drive in, you will reach nearly 5,000 feet in elevation, and as the air takes your breath away-you’ll be rewarded with the most amazing views!

What to do in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks?There aren’t many places where you can walk beneath some of the tallest trees on earth, drive through a fallen giant, peer down the deepest canyons and hike granite mountains! Drive along the Kings Canyon scenic byway, a winding road running beside the Kings River. Visit the natural wonder, General Sherman, in Sequoia National Park. It’s the largest living tree (by volume), he’s 275 feet tall and 36 feet in diameter at the base.

Top Tip… The National Park Service has a free Mobile app which can guide you through the parks, even without a mobile phone signal. Download the app before your journey and ‘download offline content in the app settings.’  

Click here to view our Road Trip Itineraries that explore Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks…

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park, California. Top 5 Best National Parks in California.

Tunnel Log at Sequoia National Park, California

5. Redwood National Park

Walk amongst the giants! Get outdoors and re-discover nature at its finest at the top of California, where you can find yourself amongst the world’s tallest living things. Visit Redwoods National Park, home to nearly half of the world’s coast Redwood trees. These giants grow over 350 feet and are well-protected within the National Park.

Where is Redwood National Park? You will find Redwood National Park on the northwestern edge of California, and it’s filled with trees so big they make you feel tiny. There are also 70 miles of coastal trails leading to driftwood-laden shorelines. 

When is the best time to visit Redwood National Park? The best time is between late April and September when there is slightly less chance of rain. 

Click here to view our Road Trip Itineraries that explore Redwood National Park…

Redwood National Park, California

Redwood National Park, California

In summary, California’s National Parks offer a huge array of natural wonders, from Yosemite’s majestic cliffs to the ancient giants of The Redwoods. These preserved landscapes are prefect adventurers and nature enthusiasts alike.

Each park tells a unique story, making California’s National Parks an undeniable treasure trove of awe-inspiring experiences for every Road-Tripper.

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