The most thrilling adventures in California National Parks to escape the hustle and bustle of cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco.

There are plenty of adventures you can experience not far from the hustle and bustle of cities in California. With an extensive amount of national parks and state parks, there are incredible opportunities to escape the traffic and stress and enjoy some big adventure thrills. Here is a list of just some of the great getaways and natural landmarks to explore for your California adventures!

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park in California was first protected in 1864. The national park is more than a 1,200 square mile valley, and is fabled for its waterfalls, ancient giant sequoias, gorgeous meadows, and the tranquillity of the High Sierra.

Yosemite National Park California Glacier Point

Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park Photo: Bruce Tuten via Flickr

Scaling the mountainous cliffs of this incredible national park will allow you to glimpse views only accessible through rock climbing. Whether you’re a novice or an expert, there is a course for any level. Also, beginners can enroll at the mountaineering school and learn from passionate climbers who know Yosemite’s cliffs the best.

There’s no better way to escape the California heat than an afternoon of rafting in Yosemite! While you’re battling the rapids, you’ll get amazing views of Glacier Point during the 3-mile trek down the Merced River.

Make sure to check out Epic Wilderness Adventure Tours when planning your visit to Yosemite! Their knowledgeable tour guides are passionate about teaching you not only about the park’s natural beauty, but also its amazing history. You’ll learn great hiking and backpacking tips that you can take with you on even more adventures in the future. For more information, visit their website!

California Parks Outdoor Adventures Rafting Rapids

Photo: Zachary Collier via Flickr

Redwood National and State Parks

The magnificent California redwoods, the world’s tallest living things reaching up as high as 380 feet and living as long as 2,500 years old, span from Big Sur 140 miles south of San Francisco to the California/Oregon border 360 miles north of SF. While the ancient redwoods can be seen in parks close to the Bay Area like Big Basin Redwoods State Park near Santa Cruz or Muir Woods National Monument just over the Golden Gate Bridge, the ancient trees found further north in Redwood National and State Parks and Humboldt Redwoods State Park become much larger and more impressive.

Redwood National Park

Photo: Redwood Rides

Redwood National Park is different from many national parks since it is not a contiguous block of area with marked park entrances (the park is almost entirely free) and Highway 101 traverses the different regions of the park. Redwood National Park is actually co-managed with California’s three most northern redwoods state parks (hence the Redwood National and State Parks moniker seen throughout) and Jedediah Smith and Prairie Creek state parks are much more accessible and popular with visitors than the large Redwood National Park area reached from Bald Hills Road.

There’s no shortage of outdoor activities in this beautiful northern California area. Whether it’s spending an unforgettable afternoon kayaking the Smith River or hiking any one of the numerous trails, there’s something for every adventure lover. There’s even a variety of ranger-led programs great for kids and families! In addition to the gorgeous redwood trees, some of the state parks’ diverse wildlife includes California sea lions, bald eagles, and river otters.

The Redwood National Parks are also a wonderful place for cycling. Even if you’re not an experienced rider, there are some great beginner routes in the area cocooned in incredible scenery. If you’re interested in learning more about exploring these California parks,  Redwood Rides Adventure Outfitters is a great place to start planning your next excursion!

Redwood National Park Adventures

Photo: Miguel Vieira via Flickr – 1024 x 768

Channel Islands National Park

Channel Islands National is a testament to what Southern California once was. This national park preserves five unspoiled islands and their stunning aquatic environments. The area is full of unique creatures, plants, and archaeological resources that can only be found in the Channel Islands National Park.

California Parks Outdoor Adventures Channel Islands National Park

Photo: David Wan via Flickr

Getting to the five islands is part of the fun. The Channel Islands National Park can only be accessed by boat or plane from the California Coast. Once you arrive, there is no better way to explore than by a kayak. As you delve into the crystal blue waters that surround these islands, you can discover hidden coves, caves, and even rare wildlife.

Additionally, you can discover the mysteries underneath the Californian Pacific waters by snorkeling. The aquatic wildlife is just as vibrant as the wildlife on land. You will see bright orange garibaldi fish and swaying kelp forests. If you’re a more advanced scuba diver, you can explore the rock reefs near the remote Anacapa Island.

Channel Islands National Park Snorkelling

Photo: Ed Bierman via Flickr

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park houses two incredible ecosystems; the Mojave Desert and the Colorado Desert. Many festival goers may know this area as a popular day trip during Coachella. Moreover, this national park is rich with a variety of wildlife in an ecosystem shaped by strong winds and occasional rainstorms. As twilight approaches over the desert ecosystem, cold temperatures and geological aspects add to the uniqueness of this southern California destination.

Joshua Tree National Park

Photo: Christopher Michel via Flickr

Joshua Tree National Park is also a great place for rock climbers looking for a change of pace. This area offers a traditional style of rock climbing with cracks and slabs that are great for experienced climbers. There are more than 8,000 climbing routes and hundreds of natural gaps to choose from.

Look up! When you visit Joshua Tree National Park, the clear desert skies make it a perfect destination for stargazing particularly on moonless nights. Learning about the stars, galaxies, constellations, and planets during your visit will truly broaden your knowledge and experience.

 Joshua Tree National Park CA stargazing

Photo: Marc Cooper via Flickr

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks

The Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park is the land of giants! The two national parks are adjacent with one another in the southern Sierra Nevada east of the San Joaquin Valley. The diverse landscape is home to the world’s largest trees. Additionally, the diverse landscape is full of huge mountains, foothills, caverns and large canyons.

Moro Rock Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks

Sequoia Trees Photo: Joi Ito via Flickr

The cinnamon colored tree trunks of the Sequoias trees vividly contrast in the bright white snow. During the months of December to April, cross-country ski on their area’s most popular route, the Congress Trail. The 2-mile round trip will give you an unforgettable alpine experience.

The Moro Rock Trail is also one of the more popular areas in Sequoia National Park. Even though the trail is under mile round-trip, don’t think that it’s not a challenging hike! The climb is very steep, but the gorgeous views are well worth the journey.

California Parks Outdoor Adventures Moro Rock Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks

Moro Rock Photo: James St. John via Flickr

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

This national park’s name comes from the Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza, who ventured through the southern part of California in 1774, and the Spanish word “borrego”, as the region is rich with bighorn sheep. Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is the largest state park in California, and it protects more than 600,000 acres of badlands, palm oases, canyons, and cactus-covered hills.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Photo: snowpeak via Flickr

Throughout the area, there’s a route for any cyclist. The warm weather, even in the winter months, makes Anza-Borrego an ideal place to escape. For casual cyclists, there are low traffic paths that offer some amazing scenery of the surrounding mountain landscape. For more serious cyclists there are mountain biking routes that vary in difficulty and terrain. Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is also a perfect sanctuary to look up at the stars. This isolated area is the perfect spot to awe in the marvelous wonders of space.

You’ll also find some amazing wildlife! Keep your eyes open for bighorn sheep, deer, jackrabbits, and more during your visit. This park is also home to beautiful wildflowers that emerge from the desert floor in spring.

Adventure Mountain Biking

Photo: crosby_cj via Flickr

Death Valley National Park

The name is not subtle. The Death Valley National Park is known for being extremely hot and big, however, there are many pleasant surprises. Underneath Scotty’s Castle, a complex built in the national park’s far north corner is a tunnel system that permits you to explore the underground maze and the remarkable castle itself.

Death Valley National Park

Photo: Andrés Nieto Porras via Flickr

During the months of November through March are the best times to hike through the national park, as summer temperatures can be dangerous. One of the most popular hikes is the Salt Creek Interpretive Trail. During the months of February through April, Salt Creek Pupfish is in spawn, and they are certainly a once in a lifetime sight to see.

Scotty’s Castle has an interesting story. The castle was built by Walter Scott, also known as Death Valley Scotty. As you explore, you get a glimpse into the life and times of the 20s and 30s. Scott convinced everyone that he built the desert castle with his wealth he gained from his secret mines in the area. In fact, the castle was built by Albert Mussey Johnson as a vacation getaway for himself and his wife.

During the cooler seasons like Fall and early Spring, Jeep tours are a great option if you’re interested in taking a guided tour of Death Valley. Many are all inclusive, making planning easier. A tour like this can help you cover as much ground as possible so that you can get the most out of your visit to Death Valley!

Death Valley National Park

Photo: Death Valley Autos Caravan Jeep Terrain Vehicle via Max Pixel


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