State National Parks of California
Where will your adventure lead you?
Cabrillo National Monument
This park celebrates the explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, the first European to set foot on the California coast. A museum exhibition documents Cabrillo's life and travels, as well as early California native peoples and industries. The site also features abundant natural beauty: hillsides covered with flowers, birds nesting in the trees and lizards darting across every pathway. A lookout point near the park's Old Point Loma Lighthouse provides one of the best places anywhere on land to observe migrating gray whales.
Castle Mountains National Monument
From the sweeping vistas atop towering Hart Mountain to the rocky canyons and sandy washes of the valley floor below, Castle Mountains National Monument celebrates the spirit of adventure, inspiration, and sense of wonder evoked by the California desert. The monument is a biologically diverse gem: golden eagles, Swainson’s hawks, and prairie falcons soar through the clear blue skies, while mountain lions, bighorn sheep, coyotes, and bobcats traverse its rugged terrain. The Castle Mountains are also home to a unique assemblage of plants, some of which are found nowhere else in California, as well as the historic mining town of Hart where miners searched for gold in the early 20th century. Visitors can enjoy stunning vistas of California and Nevada desert mountain ranges, including Nevada’s Spirit Mountain, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and revered by numerous southwestern Native American tribes.
Devil's Postpile National Monument
This monument takes its name from a cliff of cooled lava that formed into striking hexagonal columns some 100,000 years ago. These unusual 60-foot formations are some of the finest examples of columnar basalt in the world. The park's dramatic Rainbow Falls are another natural wonder at the park, where they plunge 101 feet into the San Joaquin River.
Eugene O'Neill National Historic Site
Eugene O’Neill was America’s only Nobel Prize-winning playwright, and this home and studio on 13 wooded acres in Contra Costa County is where he wrote many of his best-known and most celebrated works, including A Long Day’s Journey into Night, The Iceman Cometh and A Moon for the Misbegotten. O’Neill and his wife Carlotta designed the home, known as the Tao House, with a curious mix of Chinese and Spanish architectural influences. Reservations are required to see Tao House, and visitors must use a shuttle to access the property (no private vehicles are permitted). Contact the park's reservation line a week or two in advance for a tour.
Fort Point National Historic Site
Fort Point has stood guard over the narrow entry into San Francisco Bay for 150 years, and served as a base for architects and builders of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
Golden Gate National Recreation Area encompasses more than two dozen natural, historic, and cultural sites in and around the city of San Francisco. Experience the isolation of Alcatraz, America’s first “supermax” prison. Stroll beneath towering trees in Muir Woods. Walk on the beach at the Marin Headlands. Tour half a dozen operational and shuttered military facilities, including an active missile site. Hike miles of trails, and enjoy unforgettable ocean views. Scan the horizon from the 150-year-old Point Bonita Lighthouse.
Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree's 794,000 acres preserve portions of two spectacular desert ecosystems. The Colorado Desert in the eastern portion of the park features natural gardens of creosote bush, ocotillo, and cholla cactus. The higher, slightly cooler Mojave Desert features dazzling vistas of Joshua trees and yucca. The park also features some of the most interesting geologic displays found in California's deserts and is a mecca for rock climbers around the world.
Lassen National Volcanic Park
Tucked away in far northeastern California, Lassen offers sweeping grandeur and hydrothermal marvels in an uncrowded, contemplative atmosphere. The park is home to more than 40 volcanoes, bubbling mudpots, steaming fumaroles, stunning mountain views and vast, naturally dark skies. The park's namesake peak is the one of the largest plug dome volcanoes in the world — a type of volcano that grows in size from layers of its own lava building on top of each other over time.
Muir Woods National Monument
It’s possible, after a short walk in this national monument, to completely forget that downtown San Francisco is less than 15 miles away. This relatively small park, which is part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area, contains an impressive diversity of plants and animals, including an intact old-growth coast redwood forest and habitat that supports many ferns, wildflowers, small birds and mammals, and several federally listed species. Naturalist John Muir himself called the park "the best tree-lovers monument that could possibly be found in all the forests of the world.
Point Reyes National Seashore
This seashore, established in 1962, is the only national seashore on the West Coast. It features windswept beaches, coastal cliffs and headlands, marine terraces, coastal uplands, salt marshes, estuaries, and coniferous forests. Located on the Point Reyes Peninsula, 40 miles northwest of San Francisco, the park encompasses about 71,070 acres, stretched across more than 80 miles of undeveloped coastline. Within the park, 32,730 acres are designated wilderness or potential wilderness, constituting one of the most accessible wilderness areas in the country, and the only marine wilderness (Drakes Estero) on the West Coast south of Alaska. The park harbors an astonishingly rich array of wildlife species, some found nowhere else on Earth.
Redwood National Park
Redwood National and State Parks protect a primeval landscape where the world’s tallest living organisms, towering coast redwoods, thrive. Visitors can feel small as they stroll in the shadows of these enormous trees and explore rocky undeveloped beaches, fern studded canyons, open prairie, oak woodlands, and fog-filled river valleys. These diverse habitats support myriad wildlife and plants, including several rare species.
San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park
San Francisco Maritime National Historic Site celebrates the history of America’s relationship with the sea.The site is comprised of three main sections: the Maritime Museum, the Visitor Center/Museum, and Hyde Street Pier.
Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
The world’s largest urban national park can be found in the backyard of Los Angeles. The park's 150,000 acres span lush Mediterranean and coastal marine ecosystems, providing habitat to more than 1,000 different plant and 500 animal species. Hike trails, enjoy city views, see spectacular beaches and waterfalls, learn about American Indian cultures, and tour a working film set.
Tule Lake Unit of WWII
Lying beneath the surface of the calm waters of Pearl Harbor, just outside downtown Honolulu are the remains of the USS Arizona and the more than 1,000 members of the boat's crew who lost their lives when it sank during the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. A stark white memorial rises out of the water above the sunken ship to commemorate the Arizona sailors and all of the civilians and servicemen and women who were killed on that "date which will live in infamy." Parts of the ship can be seen from the memorial, as well as dark slicks from the oil that still leaks from the ship more than 65 years later. The interior of the memorial displays the names of all the Arizona sailors who perished along with the names of crew members who survived the Pearl Harbor attack yet chose to be buried with their shipmates.
Whiskeytown National Recreation Area
The Whiskeytown National Recreation Area, found in California where the Klamath Mountain Range meets the Sacramento Valley, features beautiful Whiskeytown Lake which offers many options for water recreation. Visitors can swim, take a beach picnic, kayak, scuba dive, boat, row, fish, sail, and water-ski.