The glittering state of California is not just one of America’s hottest travel destinations, but also a land of immense possibilities and real adventures. With its unmatched range of beaches, magnificent theme parks, incredible monuments, wineries, and Hollywood and its large economy and progressive politics, there’s never a dull moment in Northern California.
Millions of people worldwide tour this “Golden State” every year to explore the scenery, nightlife, Sierra Nevada Mountains, and the 840 miles of coastlines. Along with fast-track development, Northern California relentlessly pursues its dream of becoming a world-class city.
National parks and monuments in Northern California are oases amidst redwood forests, concrete jungles, incredible wildlife, and cliff-lined beaches. With over 28 national parks, California is by far the greatest asset and, arguably, a perfect destination to visit in the United States. Let’s look at 10 of the most famous national parks in Northern California that you should consider paying a visit to.
1. Yosemite National Park
|Yosemite National Park|
|Animals to See||Mule Deer, Coyotes, Black Bear, White-tailed Deer, Kangaroo Rats, Foxes, Bighorn Sheep, Bobcats, and Several Bats|
|Attractions to See||Glacier Point, El Capitan, Merced River, Chilnualna Falls, Horsetail Fall, Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, Tunnel View, and Ansel Adam Gallery|
With its magnificent sheer walls and breathtaking landscapes captured by Ansel Adams’ stunning white-and-black photographs, Yosemite National Park is like something out of a children’s picture book. It’s prevalent to hear people using terms like “magical” and “exceptional” to describe how they feel about this park.
Some of the most popular things here include camping, photography, hiking, climbing, or visiting museums and galleries. Make sure you visit some of the famous sections in the park, such as the Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and El Capitan. They are among the most favorable and striking features in the park.
Half Dome, for instance, is particularly well-known for “Big Climbs.” You don’t have to be a climber to explore Half Dome. Just enjoy the views of this granite icon from any angle, and I guarantee you will appreciate why climbers from all over the world have been drawn here.
Keep your eyes open for a large furry animal if you’re walking along the Mariposa Grove and Tuolumne Meadows. You may also catch a glimpse of black bears along the Valley Loop Trail and Mirror Lake Trail.
2. Desolation Wilderness
|Location||El Dorado County|
|Animals to See||Pika, Douglas Squirrel, Black Bears, and a Variety of Mountain Birds|
|Attractions to See||Lake Tahoe, Mount Tallac, and a Camp Waterfall|
Being one of the most popular hiking spots in the Tahoe area, Desolation Wilderness has long been an inspiration for photographers and nature lovers. It’s home to granite peaks, glacially-formed valleys and lakes, and subalpine forests. You can get the best views of the surroundings on top of a granite slope, which overlooks Emerald Bay.
Hike the Mount Tallac Trail for unparalleled views of Lake Tahoe. The trail is about ten miles long, and it may take you an entire day to reach the summit. You won’t get exhausted while on your way up because there’s so much to photograph.
3. Sequoia National Park
|Sequoia National Park|
|Animals to See||Black Bears, Coyotes, Beavers, Deer, Opossums, Wolverines, Sheep, and Badgers|
|Attractions to See||Giant Forest, General Sherman Tree, Grant Grove, and Crystal Cave|
Set in Tulare County in Northern California, Sequoia National Park has a complex landscape, with profoundly different appearances depending on the elevation. Ancient giant sequoia trees exemplify the diversity of landscapes in the park.
Some areas of Sequoia National Park are covered with vast caverns, deep canyons, rugged foothills, and huge mountains. Well-positioned hiking trails, nature paths, and vehicle parking lots are spread throughout the park, providing easy access to the breathtaking landscapes.
The park offers a variety of recreational opportunities and a chance to walk through the largest trees on the planet. Whether you prefer a short hike through the wilderness or tranquil stargazing at one of the park’s campgrounds – all kinds of adventure await you here.
4. Kings Canyon National Park
|Kings Canyon National Park|
|Location||Fresno and Tulare Counties|
|Animals to See||California King Snake, Black Bears, Skunks, Woodrats, Bobcats, and foxes|
|Attractions to See||General Grant Tree, Grant Grove, Cedar Grove, Boyden cavern, and Zumwalt Meadow|
No matter how long you plan to visit, Kings Canyon National Park will keep soothing your soul. This scenic wonder spot is filled with natural beauty and is one of the best places in Northern California for photography.
There’s so much to explore at Kings Canyon. It’s one of the deepest canyons in North America. One of the most popular sights you shouldn’t miss while in the area is the Grant Grove, Zumwalt Meadows, and the General Grant Tree. By visiting these sites, you will be able to experience the dramatic scenery and unrivaled beauty of the park.
Visit the park during winter to experience the deep, snowy silence of the giant trees. Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing offer a way to travel through Grant Grove and the Giant Forest in winter.
Whatever time you visit or activities you choose, you should tour King Canyon well prepared. Weather varies greatly in this area, and storms can occur at any time of year.
5. Death Valley National Park
|Death Valley National Park|
|Animals to See||Lizards, Ground Squirrels, Roadrunners, Ravens, and Coyotes|
|Attractions to See||Sand Dunes, Devil’s Golf Course, Keane Wonder Mine, Zabriskie Point, Ubehebe Crater, Rhyolite Ghost Town, and Badwater Basin|
Ignore the forbidding name, Death Valley National Park is another of California’s most amazing parks. This captivating site will be hard to tear your eyes away from home to awe-inspiring dunes, mountains, craters, and salt flats.
Throughout the park, there are easy hikes to explore, spectacular vistas, and opportunities to simply soak up the tranquillity of the desert. This park offers a wide range of activities in diverse landscapes at any time of the year.
6. Trione-Annadel State Park
|Trione-Annadel State Park|
|Animals to See||Mountain Lions, Bobcats, Coyotes, Raccoons, Skunks, Opossums, and White-tailed deer|
|Attractions to See||Lake Ilsanjo, Beltane Ranch, and Ledson Marsh|
Trione-Annadel State Park sprawls through areas of north San Francisco and Sonoma County. Contained within this spectacular state park in Northern California is Lake Ilsanjo, where most visitors go fishing.
Trione-Annadel offers multiple trails for mountain biking, horseback riding, and hiking. Get the best views of the blooming wildflowers by visiting the place between spring and early summer.
The diverse community of plants, such as forests, grasslands, and meadows, provides habitat for different species of animals. Visitors can spot coyotes, deer, and numerous bird species within the park.
7. Lassen Volcanic National Park
|Lassen Volcanic National Park|
|Location||Tehama, Plumas, Lassen, and Shasta Counties|
|Animals to See||Skunks, Weasels, Foxes, Coyotes, Raccoons, Mountain Lions, Bobcats, and American Black bears|
|Attractions to See||Lassen Peak, Bumpass Hell, Fantastic Lava Beds, Subway Cave Lava Tube, Mount Tehama, Devil’s kitchen, and Boiling Springs Lake|
A spectacular highlight nestled in four counties in Northern California, Lassen Volcanic National Park is a sight to behold. It’s home to numerous volcanoes, broken landscapes of alpine forests, meadows, stark lava beds, and steaming fumaroles.
Whether you’re a fan of wild forest land, meadows freckled with wildflowers, sheer cliffs, bubbling mud, or dramatic landscapes, you’ll find it (and so much more) in Lassen Volcanic National Park.
With so many natural wonders at your fingertips, the options for fun things to do at Lassen Volcanic National Park, either alone or with family and friends, are virtually endless, no matter what time you choose to visit.
8. Pinnacles National Park
|Pinnacles National Park|
|Location||San Benito and Monterey County|
|Animals to See||Chipmunks, Ground Squirrels, Brush Rabbits, Jackrabbits, Raccoons, Foxes, Bobcats, and Black-tailed Deer|
|Attractions to See||Condor Gulch Overlook, Bear Gulch Nature Centre, Bear Gulch Cave, and Balconies Cave|
Born of fire, Pinnacles National Park was formed as a result of eruptions from multiple volcanoes, giving rise to a unique landscape. It is one of the best places for hiking. There are over 30 miles of hiking trails ranging from easy to advanced.
Hikers journey through canyon bottoms, oak woodlands, and chaparral. Those who decide to enter the Balconies Caves and Bear Gulch Cave emerge to towering rock spires on the other end, which are also full of California condors, golden eagles, and peregrine falcons.
9. Prairie Creek Redwood State Park
|Prairie Creek Redwood State Park|
|Animals to See||Mountain Lions, Bobcats, Chipmunks, Squirrels, Foxes, Skunks, Coyotes, Elks, Deer, and Black Bears|
|Attractions to See||Gold Bluffs Beach, Klamath River, Requa Road, Douglas Memorial Bridge, Elk Meadow Picnic Area, Lady Bird Johnson Grove, and Fern Canyon|
Located in Humboldt County, California, Prairie Creek Redwood State Park is home to open meadows, sandy beaches, and old-growth Coast Redwood trees. By visiting this state park, you will see some of the most unique and majestic redwood trees that you can’t find in other state parks.
Prairie Creek Redwood State Park has much more to offer than just majestic redwood trees! Hike some of the trails like the Revelation Trail and Fern Canyon Trail that will lead you to fascinating views of the coastlines where cliffs and rocks alternate with sandy beaches.
10. Redwood National and State Parks
|Redwood National and State Parks|
|Animals to See||Roosevelt Elk, Bald Eagles, Giant Green Sea Anemone, Bears, Deer, Snakes, Salamanders, and California Sea Lions|
|Attractions to See||Fern Canyon, Stout Grove, Jedediah Smith Redwoods, and Redwood Creek Overlook|
If you’re a fan of vast prairies, rugged coastlines, oak woodlands, and vast prairies (and who isn’t, really?) head to Redwood National Park. The park is named after the tallest redwood trees on earth, spread throughout the park.
There are lots of activities to do at Redwood National Park, including scenic drives, hiking, camping, biking, and photography. You can experience this park in just a few minutes, or you can take the whole week. So, it’s up to you to decide on a good walk or activity. There are dozens of trails to explore, but none is better than the other. Any trail you choose to hike will be the best eventually.
Summary of the 10 Best National Parks to Visit in Northern California
|1||Yosemite National Park||759,620 acres|
|2||Desolation Wilderness||63,960 acres|
|3||Sequoia National Park||404,064 acres|
|4||Kings Canyon National Park||461,901 acres|
|5||Death Valley National Park||3,373,063 acres|
|6||Trione-Annadel State Park||5,092 acres|
|7||Lassen Volcanic National Park||106,452 acres|
|8||Pinnacles National Park||26,606 acres|
|9||Prairie Creek Redwood State Park||14,000 acres|
|10||Redwood National and State Parks||138,999 acres|
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