Living in the great state of California means endless outdoor adventures with awe-inspiring scenery. National Park Week is happening right now: April 15 – 23. To celebrate, park admission is free during the weekends of April 15-16 and 22-23. How lucky are we that many of these amazing parks are so close by?
Kate + Mary’s favorite California National Parks:
Point Reyes National Seashore
Located right in our backyard, this incredible playground offers hiking, camping, and endless exploring. Don’t miss: the 308 steps leading to the Point Reyes Lighthouse and a grilled cheese at the Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company.
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Up in the northeast corner of California sits Lassen Peak (pictured above) which last erupted in 1914. While things are calmer today, you can hike this active volcano which is really stunning. Don’t miss: a hike to Lake Helen for the best view and swimming in Manzanita Lake.
Pinnacles National Monument
This is the newest national park in California. The park is divided into east and west sides. The only way to get from one side to the other from within the park is via an 8-mile hike. West side travelers explore the Balconies Caves while east side adventures tour the Bear Gulch Caves. Don’t miss: a trek to the High Peaks among and around a series of jagged pinnacles you can see miles away.
Redwood National Park
Enjoy hiking, camping and exploring among the tallest trees in the world. December – April is your best bet to see migrating gray whales from the Klamath River Overlook. Don’t miss: High Bluff Overlook for a perfect picnic area and Fern Canyon where you will spy foot-long salamanders.
Yosemite National Park
A spectacular playground attracting more than 4 million visitors a year so reservations are a must. Day trips are possible, but camping is highly recommended because there is so much to see in Yosemite. Don’t miss: the challenging but breathtaking Half Dome hike and cocktails on the patio at the Ahwahnee Hotel.
Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks
Located in Central California, these tandem parks are home to Mount Whitney (highest peak in contiguous 50 states) and Kings River Canyon. Don’t miss: The General Sherman (the world’s largest living tree!) and Crystal Cave (an underground marble cavern).
The hottest and driest place in America, this massive 3 million acre park should be on everyone’s bucket list. Don’t miss: a stay (or at least a cocktail) at the Inn at Furnace Creek and Zabriskie Point for the park’s best sunset view.
Joshua Tree National Park
A desert with crazy looking trees in Southern California known for hiking and rock climbing. Don’t miss: the Ranger-led 90-minute tour of Key’s Ranch, a preserved ranch portraying the life of a Pioneer family.