Want to know more about the National Parks in California? Here’s the 2019 Guide with photos, information and more about each Californian National Park.
How Many National Parks are there in California?
There are 9 national parks in California, which is more than any other state in the U.S.
List of the National Parks of California
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite is one of the most famous and visited national parks in all of the U.S, including Cali, and it’s even inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park is also brimming with wildlife and it’s also known for its waterfalls, glaciers, granite cliffs and giant sequoia groves.
Yosemite National Park has more than 5 million visitors per year. On a hike here, you can see animals such as American black bear, Bobcat, Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep, mule deer and many more.
Redwood National Park
This is one of the most popular national parks in California, and it’s listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park is located in northern Cali, about 5.5 hours away by car from San Francisco.
The park is filled with ancient Redwood trees that rise high up in the sky. The best time of the year to visit Redwood National Park is during the summer when the amount of rain is low and the temperatures are warming, which makes hiking more pleasant.
Death Valley National Park
Death Valley is a grand Californian national park with a total area of 3,373,063.14 acres. It’s famous for its rock formations as well as being the hottest and driest place in all of the United States.
The park is also known for its extreme temperatures with ice-cold winters and scorching hot summers. Despite that, it’s still teeming with wildlife, especially birds with more than 400 recorded bird species.
If you’re lucky, you can also spot the desert tortoise.
Channel Islands National Park
Unlike the other national parks in California, which are all located on land, the Channel Islands national park is made up of five islands. In total there are eight islands, and they are all listed as a UNESCO biosphere reserve. However, only five of them are included in the NP.
It is home to more than 2000 species of plants and animals, and it’s especially known for its seals and dolphins. On average, more than 360 000 tourists make their way here to explore the islands.
Kayaking through the sea caves is one of the most popular activities here as well as scuba diving.
Sequoia National Park
This national park is home to the largest tree in the world, General Sherman, which is a Giant Sequoia tree with a volume of 52,500 cubic feet (1,487 cubic meters). It’s one of the most spectacular national parks in California and a must to visit if you enjoy spending time in nature and happen to be in the area near Fresno or Bakersfield.
The drive here from L.A and San Jose is just under 4 hours by car, so it’s recommended to stay overnight at a campsite or in a nearby town.
6. Kings Canyon National Park
Kings Canyon National Park is listed as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO and is adjoining to Sequoia national park. The Kings Canyon, after which the park is named is a glacier-carved valley, which is more than a mile deep!
The park became especially famous after John Muir visited it and compared it with Yosemite. Some of the animals one can spot are Yellow-bell marmot, Mule deer, Ground squirrel, Badgers, Opossums, Wolverines, and Beavers.
7. Pinnacles National Park
Pinnacles national park is the newest addition to the list of Californian national parks, and it was added as late as 2012. Before that, it was a national monument, and prior to Europeans, it was home to the Ohlone people.
It’s considered a wilderness by the NPS, but only to smaller animals such as bobcats, birds, lizards, bats, reptiles. It’s a paradise for insects such as butterflies (68 recorded species) and dragonflies (36 recorded species).
The Park is easily accessible from San Jose, which is about 1.5 hours away from the city center by car.
8. Lassen Volcanic National Park
Native Americans inhabited the are of Lassen long before European settlers came to America, and the park is famous for being one of the few places in the world where all 4 types of volcano can be found.
The area around the peak of Lassen Volcanic National Park still has active fumaroles, hot springs as well as boiling mud pots. If you want a raw nature experience, this is a place for you.
Some of the animals living within the park’s limits include Cougar, Weasels, Fox, American black bear, Raccoon, and Coyotes. Sacramento is the closest big city about 3 hours away by car. Visitors can reach the north and south vehicle entrances on SR 89.
9. Joshua Tree National Park
If you’re into photography, and specifically night photography and shooting the Milkyway, the Joshua Tree national park might be one of the best places to do so in the world.
Within the Joshua Tree National Park, you can also visit the Mojave Desert and the Colorado Desert. The park is best explored from either L.A or San Diego, which is just about 2 hours away by car.
If you’re visiting the park at night, you might get the chance of spotting snakes, coyotes, lynx as they are mostly nocturnal animals. During the day, you can see occasional lizards and birds as well as ground squirrels.
More about the Californian National Parks
The national parks in California are home to some of the most iconic animals in the United States, such as the American black bear, Bobcats, Coyote, Cougar, Deer, and many more.
In total there are 28 National Park Service sites in the Golden State, and they are all protected and cared for by the government. These parks are home to some of the best places to visit in the US and offer amazing opportunities for hiking and camping in the wilderness.
What is the most popular national park in California?
Yosemite National Park is the most visited national park in California with more than 5 million visitors per year.
What is California’s largest national park?
Death Valley is the largest national park in California with a total area of 3,373,063.14 acres.
Camping in the national parks in California
Each park has its own rules and specific sets of campsites available to visitors. It is best to check the updated information from the NPS before venturing out on a camping trip.
Yosemite and Lassen have many different campgrounds that can be booked per night.
Map of California’s national parks
Below is a map of the national parks in California, marked by the blue markers, so that you can see their location within the state.
Which of the national parks in California is your favorite? Leave a comment below!