As in many other states of the USA, federal law in California defines special natural areas that are protected at the government level – they are called national parks.
National parks are California’s most impressive natural attractions. Unlike ordinary sights, it’s convenient to visit them with the whole family by car. This means, exotic car rental at LAX airport will be a great way to not only explore the local national parks, but also make your trip even more exciting.
The protected areas have excellent tourist infrastructure, including well-maintained roads and convenient parking lots. Thus, grab your car and set off to the following national parks in California immediately!
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite is an amazingly beautiful green area situated on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in central California. It’s best known for its Yosemite Valley with Half Dome and El Capitan cliffs, as well as picturesque waterfalls. Giant sequoias grow in Yosemite, which can be seen in several groves: Merced, Mariposa, and Tuolumne.
You can get to Yosemite in the following ways:
- via Route 41 from Fresno, Coarsegold and Oakhurst;
- via Route 140 from Merced and Mariposa;
- via Route 120 from Sonora, Jamestown, Groveland and Buck Meadows;
- via Route 395 from Mammoth Lakes.
Distance to Yosemite from San Francisco is 300 km, while from Los Angeles – 490 km.
Sequoia National Park
This is another California’s appreciated national park, occupying the southern part of the Sierra Nevada. On the territory of this park you’ll see the western slope of Mount Whitney, which is the highest mountain in the state – its height is 4,418 meters.
The major highlights of Sequoia Park are giant sequoias, including the largest tree on the planet – General Sherman, which is located in the Giant Forest. In order to see this huge tree and five other giants, you need to go along the Generals Highway running through Sequoia Park.
Generals Highway can be reached in 2 ways:
- via Route 198, from Three Rivers or Visalia cities
- via Route 180, from Fresno.
Sequoia National Park is situated 395 km away from San Francisco and 400 km from Los Angeles.
Redwood National Park
While traveling to Northern California, you’ll see one of the most amazing natural areas. Its name is Redwood National Park. Some of the park’s territory is located on the ocean coast, and there you can also enjoy nature presented with dramatic views of the cliffs and the coastline.
You can get to the Redwood National Park from San Francisco by driving 500 km north on Route 101. The main visitor center is located at the northern entrance to the park in Crescent City. Also, there’s an office in the city of Orick, in the southern part of the park.
Joshua Tree National Park
This is one of the most beloved parks among travelers. It’s named after the tree that grows in its territory – yucca palm, or the Joshua tree. It grows exclusively in the Mojave Desert.
A unique feature of the park is that it’s located at the junction of the Mojave and Colorado deserts. Therefore, its territory is a combination of their most characteristic features. There are unique trees and stone rocks of curious shapes that are popular among climbers, as well as high mountains, and the only native palm trees – California Fan Palm.
You can get to Joshua Three Park by car from different directions:
- via Interstate 10 from the southeast (from San Diego or Palm Springs);
- via Highway 62 from the northwest (from Big Bearor Los Angeles);
- via Highway 62 from the north (from the Mojave Nature Reserve).
The distance from Los Angeles to Joshua Tree National Park is 200 km. Travel time is about 2 hours.
Lassen Volcanic National Park
It’s considered to be a special place in the north of California. The park is placed north of San Francisco, and has a unique observation platform called Mount Lassen Peak. It’s well known in the USA for his volcanic activity and geothermal phenomena, almost like Yellowstone, but it didn’t get so much glory in the world. Here you can see a very rare phenomenon – four different types of volcanoes!
The most famous local attraction is the Bumpass Hell trail, around which most of the most interesting geothermal phenomena have accumulated.
You can drive to Lassen Volcanic by car on five roads from different directions:
- via Route 89 from the south and from the north;
- via Route 44 from the west, which begins in Anderson city;
- from the south through the Drakesbad Ranch and Lake Juniper along the dirt road. Choose it in case you travel by SUV or crossover.
- from the north east of Butte Lake. This road is also unpaved.
The distance from San Francisco to Lassen Volcanic is about 400 km.