Explore the Best of California’s National Parks

California is a land of dramatic landscapes and abundant natural resources. From the redwood forests in the north to the Mojave Desert in the south, California is home to some of the country’s most beautiful and diverse national parks. California’s National Parks are a great place to start if you want an outdoor adventure.

From Yosemite National Park to Death Valley National Park, California National Parks offer visitors a chance to experience nature at its finest. If you plan a trip to California, include one or more of these fantastic parks on your itinerary.

Yosemite National Park

California National Parks - Yosemite National ParkPin
Image source: Canva

Yosemite National Park is a popular tourist destination in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. The park is about 3 1/2 hours east of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Whether you’re an experienced camper, a seasoned hiker, or just looking for a place to relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery, you’ll find plenty to do here. For those who love taking pictures, this is a paradise – with beautiful waterfalls, cliffs, and gorgeous rivers, Yosemite offers incredible views at every turn. Yosemite is also a haven for rock-climbing enthusiasts, with some of the best rock-climbing opportunities in the country.

John Muir’s Influence

John Muir was a true naturalist and conservationist, playing many vital roles in his career. As America’s most well-known advocate for Nature, he fought tirelessly to protect the wild places he loved dearly.

Through his writings, Muir convinced the U.S. government to set aside tracts of land as protected national parks, such as Yosemite and Sequoia. Thanks to John Muir’s work, these natural wonders are open to the public today, drawing visitors worldwide.

Whether hiking through beautiful forests or admiring spectacular mountain vistas, visitors can easily feel inspired by John Muir’s passion for nature and his dedication to preserving it for future generations.

Hiking Yosemite National Park

Hiking is a perfect way to get out into nature and experience Yosemite National Park. Yosemite has a diverse landscape and abundant trails suitable for all skill levels. So whether you’re an experienced hiker looking for a challenge or are just starting and prefer easy hikes with minimal elevation gain, this park has something to suit your needs.

Some popular options include the Lower Yosemite Falls Trail, an easy one-mile loop that only requires a 50-foot elevation gain. Another good option is the Valley Loop Trail, which is more moderate at 6.5 miles and offers the opportunity to see some of Yosemite’s most iconic features up close.

If you’re looking for a challenging and scenic hike, check out Snow Creek Trail, which features 2,700 feet of elevation gain over 9.4 miles and passes some gorgeous mountain vistas.

Finally, for an epic experience in Yosemite, check out the Half Dome Trail. A strenuous 14-mile hike with 4,800 feet of elevation gain leads to one of this park’s most prominent attractions – Half Dome. No matter what type of hiking experience you’re looking for in Yosemite National Park, there are plenty of great options.

Camping at Yosemite National Park

Camping in Yosemite National Park is the ultimate outdoor adventure.

The park has various campgrounds, from beautiful tent-only sites to RV-friendly spots. There are ten RV campgrounds within the park, which can accommodate RVs and trailers of various sizes.

Some of these campsites are open year-round, while others may be closed at certain times of the year due to weather conditions.

Two popular campgrounds in Yosemite Valley, Camp 4 and Upper Pines sit at 4,000 feet. Additionally, the Wawona campground is situated just south of Yosemite Valley, at an elevation of 4,000 feet. North of Yosemite Valley, Hodgdon Meadows is open all year and sits at 4,900 feet.


While exploring by foot is fantastic, it’s not for everyone. One of the best ways to see Yosemite National Park is by car. Some roads are closed in the winter due to harsh weather conditions or require tire chains.

Public transportation is available year-round within the park for those who prefer not to drive. Buses connect major visitor destinations such as Yosemite Valley, Mariposa Grove, and Wawona.

Additional Information

Entering Yosemite National Park costs $35 for passenger vehicles, pickups, and RVs.

All park areas can typically be reached by car in late May or early June. Still, some services along Tioga Road may not be open until a bit later. So please arrive before mid-morning to beat the crowds at entrance stations and popular sites like Yosemite Valley and Glacier Point.

If you can make it, the best time to visit Yosemite National Park to avoid crowds is late spring and early fall, though you might risk not having access to all areas of the park.

Top Things To See in Yosemite National Park

  • Yosemite Valley
  • Glacier Point
  • Half Dome
  • Tunnel View
  • Bridalveil Falls
  • Mirror Lake
  • Tuolumne Meadows

Joshua Tree National Park

California National Parks - Joshua Tree National ParkPin
Image source: Canva

Located in southern California, just a few hours from Los Angeles and San Diego, Joshua Tree National Park is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. With its stark desert landscape and plentiful opportunities for camping, hiking, backpacking, and rock climbing, the park attracts folks from around the globe. The park is also a haven for photographers seeking to capture its beauty.

Hiking Joshua Tree National Park

Whether you’re looking for an easy stroll or a challenging hike, there are many options at Joshua Tree National Park.

Arch Rock Trail is an excellent option for those looking for a short, scenic walk through varied terrain. This 1.4-mile loop heads up and down sandy paths and takes roughly an hour to complete.

For more experienced hikers, Mastodon Peak offers a challenging 3-mile loop with plenty of opportunities to scramble over boulders and up granite peaks. And if you’re really up for a challenge, Lost Palms Oasis will get your blood pumping. The trail is 7.5 miles along mixed terrain. This out-and-back trail leads you down a canyon, where you’ll encounter a remote palm oasis.

Temperatures can be extreme in this area, so it’s best to save these hikes for cooler months like spring or fall. Always exercise caution when hiking Joshua Tree, especially in the summer when temperatures can be scorching.

Camping at Joshua Tree National Park

With over 500 campsites scattered throughout the park, there is something to suit every taste and comfort level.

For those looking for a more developed experience, there are several campgrounds with running water, flush toilets, and other amenities like fire grates and picnic tables. These include the Black Rock and Cottonwood campgrounds near popular hiking trails and other attractions within the park.

Black Rock campground is located in the northwest corner of the park and has 99 campsites for either tents or RVs. Never fear. Running water and restrooms are close by. Reservations are required at Black Rock year-round. 

Cottonwood campground is conveniently located in the SE part of the park by the Cottonwood Visitor Center. The campground has 62 sites, and reservations are only required during peak season, September through May.

If you want a more primitive experience, the Jumbo Rocks campground has pit toilets, tables, fire grates, and little else.

Other Information

Joshua Tree National Park is a must-visit destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

The park is open year-round, although the busy season runs from roughly October to May due to the temperate climate and mild weather conditions. It is an affordable destination for an entrance fee of just $30 per passenger vehicle.

While there are a few facilities in the park, bringing your food and water is best if you plan to stay for an extended trip. So, if you are camping or hiking, come prepared.

When you visit, it’s easy to see why Joshua Tree is considered one of America’s premier national parks.

Getting Around Joshua Tree

Although hiking, biking, and backpacking are great ways to experience Joshua Tree, hoofing it is not for everyone. Visitors can also drive around the park on Park Boulevard in just a few hours. You can drive the loop from the north or west entrance and exit at the other.

Top Things To See at Joshua Tree National Park

  • Skull Rock
  • Cholla Cactus Garden
  • Cottonwood Spring Oasis
  • Hidden Valley Trail
  • Lost Horse Mine

Death Valley National Park

California National Parks - Death Valley National ParkPin
Image source: Canva

In the Mojave Desert of southeastern California, Death Valley National Park is one of the most unforgiving places on Earth.

In the summer, temperatures regularly exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit; in the winter, the temperature can drop below freezing. But Death Valley is home to various plant and animal life despite its treacherous name.

Yet visiting Death Valley National Park is the perfect way to experience nature at its most wild and rugged. So whether you’re a seasoned camper looking for an off-grid adventure in the desert, a backpacker eager to tackle new trails or a mountain biker Death Valley is an excellent place to explore.

Hiking Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park offers easy, short hikes to longer, more challenging treks. Experienced hikers or beginners can find something to suit their fancy. The trails wind through diverse terrain, from rugged canyons to beautiful dunes.

One of the most popular hikes in the park is Badwater Salt Flat, which is easily accessible. This flat, easy trail leads to the lowest point in North America: Badwater Basin. Here, you can take in sweeping views of vast salt flats and surrounding mountains as you stroll along the endless expanse of flat terrain.

For those with some energy to spare, other popular hikes include:

  • Natural Bridge, a short 45-minute out-and-back trail with a moderate elevation gain of 86 feet
  • Darwin Falls (must see) covers 2 miles round trip with a gradual climb of 450 feet. Darwin Falls is a one-of-a-kind oasis located in the Mojave Desert. Just note there is no swimming, even though you might feel the urge to cool off.

If you want to go on an extended trek through some of the quieter corners of Death Valley, be sure to check out the beautiful Gower Gulch Loop. It’s a 4.3-mile loop that offers incredible views and 850 feet in elevation gain.

Camping at Death Valley National Park

Camping in Death Valley National Park offers visitors a unique experience and includes developed, primitive, and private campgrounds.

Campers can access full electrical and RV hookup sites and more traditional tent camping at the Furnace Creek Campground. Furnace Creek is the most popular campground in Death Valley and the only campground in the park that takes reservations. Plan accordingly to secure your spot.

For those looking for a more off-the-beaten-path experience, there are also primitive campgrounds available such as Thorndike Campground at 7,400 feet elevation or the remote Eureka Dunes Campground located at 2,880 feet elevation.

Finally, Stovepipe Wells RV Park is an excellent choice for those seeking a private campground within the park, the convenience of modern camping facilities like full hookups, a swimming pool, and wi-fi.

Getting Around Death Valley National Park

Unlike other national parks, there is no public transportation in Death Valley National Park. Most folks explore the park via their own vehicle. Because the park is so remote, it’s advised to keep a good old paper map on hand since GPS can be unreliable.

It costs $30 to enter the park, and campgrounds have additional fees. So have plenty of water and a well-tuned vehicle no matter what time you plan to visit. But, of course, the best time to visit is November-March when the weather is cooler.

Top Things To See at Death Valley National Park

  • Dante’s Peak
  • Zabriskie Point
  • Badwater Basin
  • Artist’s Palette Viewpoint
  • Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes
  • Ubehebe Crater
  • Mosaic and Sidewinder Canyons

Channel Islands National Park

California National Parks - Channel Islands National ParkPin
Image source: Canva

Most people associate a visit to southern California with theme parks, beaches, and surfing. But a hidden offshore gem offers a different experience: Channel Islands National Park.

Channel Islands National Park is a must-visit destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. This park features five distinct islands and their surrounding ocean habitat, allowing visitors to explore a wealth of incredible natural wonders. In addition, visitors can enjoy activities like hiking, camping, kayaking, snorkeling, and whale watching.

The park is excellent for getting away from the city and connecting with nature. It’s also a great spot for your next southern California vacation.

Getting to Channel Islands National Park

The park is nestled within California’s coastline and is accessible by boat from Island Packers in Ventura Harbor. There is ample parking at the harbor, and the boat trips run various times throughout the week, depending on which island you are headed to.

The trip takes about 1 to 4 hours, depending on which island you are going to, so plan ahead and pack accordingly. Once you are on the islands, there is no transportation, so you are either hoofing it on foot, paddling a kayak, or riding in a private boat.

Camping at Channel Islands National Park

Camping is an excellent way to experience all that Channel Islands National Park offers. Visitors can camp on any of the five islands year-round. A camping trip requires a little planning since the islands are only accessible by boat.

Each island has one established campground. To camp at the park, you will need to be completely self-sufficient. That means you must pack all your gear and supplies yourself since there is no transportation on the islands. Therefore, once you set foot on the island of your choice, plan to pack your camping gear to your campsite on foot.

You will also need to make reservations through the park’s website. Campers are limited to specific areas within the national park, and campsites tend to book up quickly. Once you arrive on your chosen island, you must stay in designated camping areas.

Water is not available on-site at most sites, so you have to bring all food and water. A few campsites have water, but most do not, so campers must be prepared. Camping at Channel Islands National Park is a chore. Still, with careful planning and preparation, it is an experience you will never forget.

Things To Do at Channel Islands National Park

If you are an outdoor enthusiast, there is so much to do and see in Channel Islands National Park, including:

  • Kayaking
  • Hiking
  • Diving
  • Snorkeling
  • Fishing
  • Surfing
  • Whale watching (available through Island Packers)

Be advised that visitors are responsible for all their own equipment since there are no rentals on the islands. For instance, if you want to kayak, you will need to arrange for transportation of you and your yak on one of the transport boat operators.

Only limited convenience items are available on the islands, so whatever watersports you enjoy, bring all the necessary gear when you visit.

On that note, kayaking is one of the most popular activities at Channel Islands National Park. With miles of coastline to explore, there is no shortage of places to paddle.

Pro tip: Be sure to paddle Santa Cruz Island Painted Cave, one of the largest sea caves in the world.

Hiking Channel Islands National Park

Each island has plenty of opportunities to lace up those hiking boots. Visitors can expect various hikes on each island, but some are more strenuous than others.

For example, most of the hikes on Anacapa Island trend toward the easier side, while Santa Cruz and Santa Barbara Islands lean toward more strenuous hikes.

Lassen Volcanic National Park 

California National Parks - Lassen Volcanic National ParkPin
Image source: Canva

Lassen Volcanic National Park is a scenic park in northern California located just east of Redding. This vast wilderness area is known for its beautiful mountain lakes, fumaroles, and pristine forests. Despite its natural beauty, Lassen is often overlooked for more popular destinations like Yosemite.

However, this rugged landscape offers plenty of opportunities for camping, hiking, and other outdoor adventures. So whether you’re passing through on a road trip or looking to spend some time unwinding in the great outdoors, Lassen is the perfect place.

Camping at Lassen Volcanic National Park 

There are plenty of places to camp at Lassen Volcanic National Park. Seven different campgrounds will suit your needs, whether you prefer to pitch a tent or park an RV.

FYI…reservations are highly recommended during the summer months.

Butte Lake, Manzanita Lake, and Summit Lake are the best options for those traveling with an RV or trailer. However, it should be noted that these campsites do not have hookups, but there is a dump station in Manzanita.

Boating at Lassen Volcanic National Park 

Boating is one of the most popular activities at Lassen Volcanic National Park, and with good reason. There are over 200 lakes and ponds, many offering fishing, swimming, and paddling opportunities.

Some popular lakes include Manzanita Lake, Butte Lake, Summit Lake, and Juniper Lake. Several lakes prohibit boating, including Helen, Reflection, Boiling Springs, and Emerald.

One thing to note is the lakes are only open to non-motorized watercraft, but kayaks and stand up paddle boards (SUP) are excellent ways to explore the lakes.

If you don’t have your own canoe, kayak, or SUP, you can rent one at Manzanita Lake.

Hiking at Lassen Volcanic National Park 

Bumpass Hell Trail is a must-do hike at Lassen, but Boiling Springs Lake is not far behind. Bumpass Hell is about 3 miles round trip and takes about 2 hours to complete. The hike is at 8,200 feet, so it will test your lung capacity.

Boiling Springs is an easy 3-mile hike up 200 feet and takes about 2 hours. It doesn’t have the fanfare of Bumpass Hell, but it’s not far behind.

Other Things To Do at Lassen Volcanic National Park

Several gorgeous lakes offer the perfect spot for swimming at Lassen Volcanic National Park. The lakes sit at elevations between 5,500 and 10,000 feet making for ranges from chilly to downright frigid depending on where you go.

If you’re more of a fisherman, there are plenty of opportunities to cast a line. Manzanita and Butte lake are popular fishing spots. These lakes are known for trout, including rainbow trout, brook trout, and brown trout.

Note: A valid California fishing license is required.

Getting Around Lassen Volcanic National Park

The Lassen Volcanic National Highway is the best (and only) way to get through the park. There are a few other roads leading to more remote areas (Butte and Juniper Lakes and Warner Valley), but these roads close when the snow starts falling.

Geothermal Areas

Lassen Volcanic National Park is home to many geothermal areas, including hot springs, steaming fumaroles, and bubbling mud pots. These geothermal areas result from volcanic activity beneath the earth’s surface, providing a unique and fascinating glimpse into our planet’s inner workings. Visitors can explore these unique landscapes on foot by taking one of the many hiking trails that wind their way through the park’s volcanic terrain.

Top Things To See at Lassen Volcanic National Park

  • Big Boiler
  • Bumpass Hell
  • Terminal Geyser
  • Kohm Ya-mah-nee Visitor Center
  • Manzanita Lake
  • Mill Creek Falls

Pinnacles National Park

California National Parks - Pinnacles National ParkPin
Image source: Canva

Located in central California, Pinnacles National Park is a unique natural landscape formed by the remnants of volcanic eruptions over 23 million years ago. Today, the park is a popular destination for tourists, campers, and hikers who come to explore its unusual rock formations, dramatic cliffs, and verdant forests.

Whether trekking along the challenging trails or meandering along the easy-going loops, visitors will discover a rich diversity of plant and animal life and excellent views of surrounding mountains and valleys.

If you are visiting San Francisco or Monterrey, a day trip to Pinnacles National Park is a great way to experience California’s natural beauty.

Hiking at Pinnacles National Park

There are over 30 miles of hiking trails inside the park ranging from easy strolls to strenuous climbs. However, the caves make Pinnacles National Park a bit different from other parks.

There are several moderate hikes from the visitor center to:

  • Bear Gulch – 2.3 miles each way, 300 feet elevation gain and takes about 1.5 hours
  • Balconies Cave – 9.4 miles round trip, 300 feet elevation gain, and takes about 3-4 hours. See the park’s largest rock formations. Flashlights are required in the cave.
  • South Wilderness Trail – 6.5 miles round trip, no elevation gain, and takes about 3-4 hours. Good for wildlife viewing.

If you are looking for more strenuous hikes, here are a few options from Bear Gulch:

  • Condor Gulch to High Peaks Loop – 5.3 miles round trip 1,300 feet elevation gain, and it takes about 4 hours to complete
  • If you are up for a real doozy, Chalone Peak Trail is 9 miles round trip and takes about 4 hours to complete.

Pinnacles National Park Bat Caves

Nope, not talking about Batman here…

One unique feature of Pinnacles National Park that sets it apart from other parks are caves and the occupants.

Townsend’s big-eared bats are a fascinating and sensitive species that call the beautiful Bear Gulch Cave their home. These small creatures are highly specialized and rely on echolocation to navigate the dark cave and locate the small amounts of insects. Unfortunately, due to their unique needs, Townsend’s bats are among the most vulnerable species in the region and must be protected.

As tourists, campers, and hikers visiting Bear Gulch Cave, please be mindful of these precious bats and do not disturb them. By following simple guidelines, staying on designated paths, leaving food outside the cave, and keeping noise levels down, we can play a crucial role in ensuring the survival of bats for years to come.

Camping at Pinnacles National Park

If you’re looking for a great camping experience, look no further than Pinnacles Campground. Located within Pinnacles National Park, this campground offers abundant outdoor activities for visitors. You’ll find exactly what you need at Pinnacles Campground. Whether you prefer to camp under the stars, set up your RV with electrical hookups, or join a group and share community tables and barbecue pits.

Best of all, this spacious campground is located on the east side of the park, meaning that it can only be accessed by foot or by vehicle via a short but scenic hike. So if you’re looking for a fantastic camping experience right in the heart of the park, head to Pinnacles Campground. You won’t regret it.

Top Things To See at Pinnacles National Park

  • Bear Gulch Cave
  • Bear Gulch Reservoir
  • Condor Gulch Overlook
  • Balcony Cliffs
  • North Chalone Peak

Sequoia National Park

California National Parks - Sequoia National ParkPin
Image source: Canva

Sequoia National Park is the place to be if you’re looking for an incredible natural experience. This vast park is home to some of the tallest and oldest trees in the world, including the famous giant sequoias. Not only are these trees enormous, but they also provide excellent habitats for wildlife.

Whether you like to hike or camp, you’ll find plenty of unique activities in this incredible park. Sequoia National Park has something for everyone, from serene river valleys to challenging mountain vistas. So if you want to explore nature on a grand scale, visit the glorious forests of Sequoia National Park!

Hiking at Sequoia National Park

Hiking is one of the best ways to explore Sequoia National Park, and there are trails for every skill level.

Note: The climate can get extremely hot during the summer, so bring plenty of water and sunscreen. But, if you are up for the challenge, hiking here will reward you with incredible views of all that is beautiful about this region.

Lace up your hiking boots and get ready for an adventure. So, there are several different areas to hike in Sequoia, including:

Grant Grove Trails

If you’re looking for beautiful scenery, Grant Grove Trails offers easy-to-navigate routes that take you past towering sequoia trees and peaceful meadows. Short hikes, long hikes, you can find something to suit your needs here.

Next up, the General Grant Tree Trail and the North Grove Loop. The General Grant Tree Trail is perfect for families with young children. It covers just over 1/3 mile and features the historic Gamlin Cabin and the stunning Fallen Monarch tree. For more experienced hikers, the 2-mile Big Stump Basin trail offers an up-close look at some of the massive stumps left behind by early loggers in the late 19th century.

Cedar Grove Day Hikes

If you’re looking for diverse hiking opportunities in Sequoia National Park, head to Cedar Grove. The area is home to granite walls, fantastic vistas, rivers, waterfalls, and many trails to explore.

To start your adventure, head over to Zumwalt Meadow. This beautiful meadow is characterized by grasslands and granite cliffs, all set against the backdrop of the Kings River. The hike is just under 1 mile.

If you’re looking for something more adventurous, check out Roaring River Falls. This powerful waterfall rushes through a narrow gap in the rocks along the riverbanks, producing a thunderous sound. And with just a short walk from the parking lot to reach it, Roaring River Falls is one of the more accessible and rewarding day hikes.

There is no better option for those looking for something longer and more challenging than Sheep Creek Cascade. This trail takes you deep into the heart of Cedar Grove as it winds its way up through the forest. With about 600 feet of elevation gain on this hike and plenty of fantastic views, Sheep Creek Cascade is not to be missed.

Camping at Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park offers many great options for camping and hiking enthusiasts. The Lodgepole Campground is a large and popular site located on the Marble Fork of the Kaweah River, offering easy access to many beautiful trails.

At an elevation of 6,700 ft, the campground is also quite snowy in spring and fall. In addition, Lodgepole Village offers amenities such as a visitor center, market, showers, and laundry facilities.

For those looking to explore the park and neighboring areas, the Dorst Creek Campground is well situated at 6,800 feet.

Getting Around Sequoia National Park

If hiking or camping isn’t your thing, taking a shuttle around the park might be the perfect way to explore all Sequoia National Park offers. The shuttle system here is free and easy to use, making it an excellent option for families with young children or those who want to take things at a slower pace.

Visitors can hit the major attractions without breaking a sweat by hopping on the shuttle at any convenient park stop. Some popular destinations include Giant Forest Museum, Sherman Tree, and Wuksachi Lodge. The shuttle runs daily from early summer through late fall, so check the schedule and plan your trip accordingly.

Top Things To See at Sequoia National Park

  • General Sherman
  • Giant Forest Museum
  • Marble Falls
  • Tokopah Falls
  • Moro Rock
  • Crystal Cave
  • Giant Forest

Kings Canyon National Park

California National Parks - Kings Canyon National ParkPin
Image source: Canva

Kings Canyon National Park is a beloved National Park in California, next to the more famous Sequoia National Park. The park draws visitors from all over with its deep canyon, towering trees, and gorgeous landscapes. But you might be surprised how few people visit Kings Canyon compared to other national parks. 

Whether camping, hiking, or simply enjoying breathtaking views, there is something special about Kings Canyon National Park that sets it apart. Kings Canyon National Park has no shortage of breathtaking sights that make it well worth a visit.

Camping at Kings Canyon National Park

Camping is a great way to explore Kings Canyon National Park. Plenty of campgrounds are scattered throughout the park, each with unique amenities and scenic vistas.

The Azalea Campground, for example, is open year-round and sits at a high elevation, which makes it perfect for camping in any season. Likewise, quick access to the Kings Canyon entrance is ideal for tourists and experienced campers. There are 110 total sites available here, open at different times of the year.

Another popular option is Potwisha Campground, which features plenty of space for RVs and trailers and a nearby RV waste station. There are 42 sites available in Potwisha. Just 4 miles from Ash Entrance Station, Potwisha is close to many of the park’s main hiking trails, making it an ideal choice for hikers and nature lovers.

South Fork Campground is another excellent campsite located in a remote spot on the park’s foothills. South Fork campground offers only basic amenities like fire pits and vault toilets. No potable water is available at South Fork. But the campground provides easy access to some of the best hiking trails in the park, including the Garfield Grove and Ladybug trails. RVs and trailers are not allowed at South Fork.

Hiking at Kings Canyon National Park

Kings Canyon National Park is a truly wonderful place to go hiking. Whether you are looking for an easy day hike or a multi-day backpacking trip.

Some popular trails in Kings Canyon include:

  • Mist Falls trail is an 8.7-mile moderate hike with gorgeous views of the waterfalls on the way to the top.
  • Rae Lakes Loop is a 39-mile challenging multi-day hike that takes you through lakes and rivers and past scenic mountain passes and wildlife.
  • General Grant Trail, an easy 0.7-mile loop that takes you through one of the largest sequoia groves in California; and the 
  • Paradise Valley Trail is an 18.2-mile challenging route that will take you along peaceful meadows, forests, and majestic peaks.

Getting Around Kings Canyon National Park

There are no shuttles available in Kings Canyon National Park. Still, visitors can take the scenic drive along a river at the base of the canyon, one of the best things about this place.

The Kings Canyon Scenic Byway should be on your list if you are looking for a scenic drive with plenty of waterfalls.

There are so many beautiful spots to stop with easy-to-make hikes that you can do in just an hour or two, and they’re all within reach on foot. Plus, plenty of restrooms are available, and campgrounds are nearby.

Top Things To See at Kings Canyon National Park

  • Grant Grove (General Grant)
  • Kings River
  • Zumwalt Meadow
  • Kings Canyon Scenic Byway
  • Grizzly Falls
  • Mist Falls

Redwood National Park

California National Parks - Redwood National ParkPin
Image source: Canva

Redwood National Park is one of Northern California’s most beautiful natural landscapes. Whether you’re interested in kayaking, hiking, or camping, this park has something for everyone.

The dense canopies and serene forests are home to a wide variety of wildlife, including elk, black bears, and countless species of birds. So whether you’re a seasoned outdoorsman or just looking to spend some time in nature, Redwood National Park is a must-see attraction.

Camping at Redwood National Park

Redwood National Park is one of the most popular camping destinations in the United States, offering various camping options to suit every type of traveler. 

For visitors looking for developed campgrounds, the park offers several options, including:

  • Jedediah Smith Campground is open all year and features 86 sites suitable for tents and RVs. 
  • Mill Creek Campground is also open seasonally and offers more than 145 sites for tents or RVs with no hookups but with access to hot showers and other amenities. 
  • For those seeking a truly unique experience, Gold Bluffs Beach Campground offers camping right on the beach.
  • Elk Prairie Campground is open year-round and perfect for tent and RV camping.

Backcountry camping requires a permit for any of the seven camping areas. Little Bald Hills Camp and DeMartin Camp are a couple of options for backcountry camping.

Hiking at Redwood National Park

Redwood National Park is an excellent destination for anyone who loves the outdoors. There is a range of hiking trails, depending on your energy level and time available. For an easy option, the Simpson-Reed Trail is only .8 miles long and ideal for those looking to take it at a leisurely pace. 

For something on a slightly larger scale, the Big Tree Wayside offers a fantastic five-minute walk that takes you directly to some impressive ancient redwoods. If you are looking for something a little more challenging, then Trillium Falls might be just the ticket. With its 200 feet elevation gain, this trail will get your heart pumping while offering some truly breathtaking views. 

If you are short on time but want an authentic taste of Redwood National Park, then the Stout Memorial Grove Trail may be perfect. It’s only half a mile long and leads through a dramatic old-growth forest.

Kayaking Redwood National Park

Kayaking is a popular way to explore the beautiful Smith River at Redwood National Park. The waters of this picturesque river make it ideal for paddlers of all skill levels, and several kayak rental companies in the area offer easy access to the water. Kayaking on the Smith River at Redwood National Park will surely highlight any trip to this beautiful region.

Getting Around Redwood National Park

Unfortunately, one thing visitors should remember when planning their trip is that there is no shuttle service within Redwood National Park. If you plan on hiking during your visit, this may not be an issue; otherwise, it can make getting around a little more challenging. 

If driving is your preferred mode of transport in the park, it offers plenty of advantages. You see more sites and landmarks and take in unbeatable views. 

So if hiking isn’t really your style, but you still want to experience the wonder of Redwood National Park, hop in your car and explore at your own pace.

Top Things To See at Redwood National Park

  • Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway
  • Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center 
  • Big Tree Wayside Walk
  • Enderts Beach
  • Fern Canyon Loop Trail


California National Parks are some of the most popular destinations in the United States. and offer various camping, hiking, and sightseeing options, which are perfect for outdoor enthusiasts. With dramatic landscapes and plenty to see and do, California National Parks is a must-visit destination for anyone who loves the outdoors.

+ posts

Steve Morrow owns Paddle About, an outdoor recreation and travel blog. Steve loves to travel, kayak, paddle board, camp, hike, and spend time outdoors with his wife and two kids. When he's not exploring the great outdoors, Steve enjoys writing about his adventures and sharing tips for getting the most out of your outdoor experiences. He has a lot of interesting stories to share, and he's always happy to help others get more out of life.

Photo of author
About the author
Steve Morrow
Steve Morrow owns Paddle About, an outdoor recreation and travel blog. Steve loves to travel, kayak, paddle board, camp, hike, and spend time outdoors with his wife and two kids. When he's not exploring the great outdoors, Steve enjoys writing about his adventures and sharing tips for getting the most out of your outdoor experiences. He has a lot of interesting stories to share, and he's always happy to help others get more out of life.