10 Best National Parks in California (2023)

Welcome to today’s article where I examine the 10 best national parks in California. California is home to some of the most diverse and stunning landscapes in the United States. From towering sequoias and ancient volcanoes to rugged coastlines and desert oases, there is something for everyone to explore and enjoy. Whether you are looking for adventure, relaxation, wildlife, or history, you will find it in one of the many national parks in California.

I compiled this collection of the 10 best national parks in California based on some intriguing features that they have. Some of these features include amazing waterfalls, glaciers, tall trees, sand dunes, and mountains to mention a few. These mesmerizing natural wonders are great sights to behold. Hence, I invite you to visit these parks at least once this year if you are in California to learn, have fun, and experience the best of California’s natural flora and fauna at almost no cost.

national parks in California

10 Best National Parks In California

These are the 10 most renowned national parks in California:

1. Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is one of the most famous and frequently visited national parks in California, and for good reason. It has some of the most iconic natural wonders in the world like the Half Dome, El Capitan, Yosemite Falls, and Glacier Point. You can hike, bike, climb, raft, or camp among these majestic landmarks and enjoy the breathtaking scenery.

2. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are adjacent to each other and share a common boundary. They are home to some of the largest and oldest trees on Earth: giant sequoias. Some of these trees are so tall and wide reaching up to 300 feet tall and 30 feet wide at their base. Walking among these giant trees can be frightening yet intriguing and adventurous. Some of the prominent trees at this park are the General Sherman Tree (the largest tree by volume), the General Grant Tree (the second largest), and the Giant Forest tree. Hence, this is without a doubt one of the best national parks in California for tall trees.

3. Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park is the hottest, driest, and lowest national park in California (and in North America). This park has a vast expanse of salt beds, sand dunes, badlands, and mountains of diverse colors and textures. You can explore this harsh but beautiful landscape by driving along scenic routes like Badwater Road or Artist’s Drive or hiking trails like Golden Canyon or Zabriskie Point.

4. Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is where two distinct desert ecosystems meet: the Mojave Desert and the Colorado Desert. It is named after its signature plant species: Joshua trees (which are actually yuccas). These spiky plants dot the landscape along with other desert flora like cacti, ocotillos, and wildflowers. You can also admire rock formations like Skull Rock or Arch Rock or visit historic sites like Keys Ranch or Barker Dam.

5. Redwood National and State Parks

Redwood National and State Parks are a joint management partnership between the National Park Service and California State Parks that protect nearly half of all remaining coastal redwoods in the world. These ancient trees can live up to 2,000 years old and grow up to 380 feet tall. This park also has groves two of which are the Tall Trees Grove and the Lady Bird Johnson Grove. You can have fun and experience nature at its best at any of these groves. Also, there are a canyon and a beach at this park two namely the Fern Canyon and Gold Bluffs Beach.

  • Location: Northern California (near Crescent City)
  • Operating Hours: Vary depending on the season; check the website for details
  • Website: https://www.nps.gov/redw/index.htm

6. Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen Volcanic National Park is one of the best national parks in California and in the world for many reasons. First, it has all four types of volcanoes: shield, composite, cinder cone, and plug dome. Second, this is where Lassen Peak is, a plug dome volcano that last erupted in 1915. Third, it has amazing geothermal activities and scenic views. Finally, it has lakes, meadows, and forests. These and more make this park amazing and worth visiting.

  • Location: Northeastern California (near Redding)
  • Operating Hours: Vary depending on season and road conditions; check the website for details
  • Website: https://www.nps.gov/lavo/index.htm

7. Pinnacles National Park

Pinnacles National Park is the newest national park in California, established in 2013. The park is unique for its spectacular rock formations that are remnants of an ancient volcano that eroded and moved over millions of years. You can hike, climb, or cave among these pinnacles and spires and admire the diverse wildlife that inhabits them, such as California condors, prairie falcons, and bats.

  • Location: Central California (near Salinas)
  • Operating Hours: East entrance is open 24 hours a day, year-round; West entrance is open from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., daily
  • Website: https://www.nps.gov/pinn/index.htm

8. Channel Islands National Park

Channel Islands National Park consists of five islands off the coast of Southern California: Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Miguel, and Santa Barbara. They are isolated from the mainland and preserve a unique natural and cultural heritage. You can access them by boat or airplane and enjoy activities like kayaking, snorkeling, diving, or hiking. This is one of the best national parks in California where you can see rare plants and animals that are endemic to the islands in their natural habitat. Some of the rare plants and animals available at Channel Islands National Park are island foxes, island scrub jays, and giant coreopsis.

  • Location: Southern California (near Ventura)
  • Operating Hours: The park is open 24 hours a day, year-round; visitor centers have varying hours; check the website for details
  • Website: https://www.nps.gov/chis/index.htm

9. Mojave National Preserve

Mojave National Preserve is a vast area of desert wilderness that covers more than 1.6 million acres in Eastern California. It is remarkable for having a variety of landscapes and topography of sand dunes, cinder cones, and lava tubes. Also, this park has a forest full of Joshua trees. You can explore this rugged terrain by driving along scenic roads like Kelbaker Road or Cima Road. You can also learn about the history and culture of the people who lived in this harsh environment at places like Kelso Depot or Mitchell Caverns.

  • Location: Eastern California (near Barstow)
  • Operating Hours: Open 24 hours a day, year-round; visitor centers have varying hours; check website for details
  • Website: https://www.nps.gov/moja/index.htm

10. Point Reyes National Seashore

Point Reyes National Seashore is a peninsula that juts out into the Pacific Ocean north of San Francisco. It offers a stunning coastline with cliffs, beaches, and lighthouses, as well as rolling hills with dairy farms, grasslands, and forests. You can enjoy activities like hiking, biking, camping, or whale watching at this diverse and scenic park. You can also visit historic sites like Point Reyes Lighthouse or Pierce Point Ranch or learn about the native Miwok people at Kule Loklo.

  • Location: Northern California (near San Francisco)
  • Operating Hours: Open 24 hours a day, year-round; visitor centers have varying hours; check website for details
  • Website: https://www.nps.gov/pore/index.htm


These are just some of the best national parks in California that you should visit if you love nature and adventure. They offer a wide range of experiences and attractions that will make your trip memorable and enjoyable. Whether you want to see giant trees or volcanoes, deserts or islands, rocks or waterfalls, you will find them in one of these amazing parks. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your next vacation to one of these national parks in California today!

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