California – “the golden state of the USA” is blessed with many forms of nature – oceans, tall trees, forests, deserts, rivers, lakes, volcanic regions, monolith granite rocks, seaside cliffs, marine life, exotic, unique flora, and fauna. There are so many natural attractions spots that it is tough to cover all sites in one article about California’s nature. Let’s read about some of the most visited 5 best nature spots in California or natural wonders in California with things to do, the best time to visit, helpful tips for first-timers, and some unique facts about these places.
5 Best Nature Spots In California
Yosemite National Park
A 1200 sq. miles area blessed with natural beauties is a paradise for all nature lovers. Located in northern California’s Sierra Nevada mountain, you can enjoy outdoor nature activities like hiking, climbing mountains, horseback riding, river rafting in summer, snow skiing, and snowboarding in winter. It is one of the most visited national parks in the USA. It is famous for granite monoliths like Half Dome and Capitan.
The Tioga Pass Entrance to Yosemite National Park is the most beautiful and highest. This entrance is closed in wintertime and can be accessed through the nearby city of Mammoth lake.
USEFUL TIP – After Covid, Yosemite National Park is giving permits to car entrance slots that must be booked in advance. Click on their official website to reserve your place.
Best Time to Visit – All seasons but check road closures or forest fire information before you plan.
Best Spots at Yosemite National Park – Must See
- Lembert Dome
- Tuolumne River
- Tuolumne Meadows
- Tenaya Lake
- Olmsted Point to view Half Dome Rock
- Ahwahnee Vista Point
- Random stopover in Yosemite Valley near the river
- Bridal-Veil Waterfalls
- El Capitan
- Merced River – El Portal Point
- Yosemite Lower Falls
- Yosemite Chapel/Village
- Yosemite Souvenir Shop
- Ellery Lake View Point
- Sunset at Sierra Mountain Ranges
FACTS ABOUT YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK
- Yosemite is famous for its giant Sequoia trees.
- Yosemite Valley was formed by glaciers.
- Yosemite is one of the most unique places in the world, which experiences the Lunar Rainbow “Moonbrow” – rainbows in the nighttime.
South Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe is the largest Alpine lake in North America and is the most popular attraction and hence one of the 5 best nature spots in California. The transparent cobalt blue-colored water body surrounded by the Sierra Nevada mountain range will captivate your mind with its stunning natural beauty. Spanning over two states – California and Nevada, this lake is popular among nature enthusiasts, hikers, campers, bikers, etc. The breathtaking scenery of Lake Tahoe will amaze you, and it is a summer and winter-friendly destination.
Useful Tip – Check forest fire information in the summertime as the main highway often closes due to the forest fire.
Best Time to Visit – All seasons – Summer to enjoy summer activities and winter for unique winter sports.
Things to do in South Lake Tahoe
- Heavenly Mountain Resort
- Emerald Bay State Park
- Northstar California Resort
- Alpine Meadows
- Sand Harbor
- King’s Beach State Recreation area.
- Lake Tahoe Balloons or Cruises.
FACTS ABOUT SOUTH LAKE TAHOE
- Lake Tahoe is 2 million years old.
- Lake Tahoe has 63 creeks and rivers flowing into it and only one outlet.
- The Lake has located 6225 ft high and surrounded by giant mountains.
- The lake’s circumference is 72 miles, and the water is very, very pure.
Death Valley National Park
The driest and hottest point of North America is known for extreme temperatures. This point is the lowest elevation on the continent—282 feet below sea level. Death Valley is one of the largest national parks in North America, and due to extreme weather, it is famous among adventure junkies. You must have spotted the Death Valley National Park in many movie backdrops because of its rough, adventure-friendly, picturesque desert landscape.
Best Time to Visit – The extreme temperature in summer is recorded at 57 deg Celsius (134 deg F). So better to plan this destination in winter or a summer road trip to this place would be full of adventures.
USEFUL TIP – Please close the Car AC when driving mid-afternoon in summer due to extremely high temperatures, and there is a risk of burning.
Things to do in Death Valley National Park
- Zabriskie Point
- Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes
- Badwater Basin
- Dante’s View
- Devil’s Golf Course
- Ubehebe Crater
FACTS ABOUT DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK
- Death Valley is the lowest point in North America in two states- California and Nevada.
- In July 2018, it experienced the hottest day on Earth.
- Some of the rocks in Death Valley National Park move on their own. People have mysterious beliefs and scientific reasons to support this.
Why Death Valley National Park – Adventure lovers, Desert backdrop lovers, bumpy drive with many roller-coaster types of road, Road, and Mountain biking.
Dining Options – Carry your food and lots of fluids – water in Death Valley National Park, as you will not see any human activity for miles and miles.
Big Sur – A rugged mountainous region between San Simeon and Carmel by the Sea on the Central Californian coast where Santa Lucia mountains meet the deep blue Pacific Ocean. It is one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world and the most extended and scenic stretch of an underdeveloped coastline in the United States of America. This region would captivate you with the enchanting beauties of the tallest trees, Redwoods forest, and waterfalls along the rugged coastline.
It receives many visitors yearly, especially in the summer, just like Yosemite National Park. National Geographic Traveler listed Big Sur as one of the “50 Places of a Lifetime/The World’s Greatest Destinations.” It is a favorite destination for all nature lovers and tops the list of the most beautiful drives in the world.
Best time to Visit Big Sur – Summer is the best time to visit Big Sur, and it is a peak season when all visitors flock to witness this natural wonder where you can see mountainscapes with ocean beauty all around.
Things to do in Big Sur
- Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park
- Bixby Bridge
- Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
- McWay Falls
- Andrew Molera State Park
FACTS ABOUT BIG SUR
- Big Sur is the longest and most scenic stretch of undeveloped coastline in the [contiguous] United States.
- The Bixby Bridge in Big Sur was built by prisoners eager to earn “good time” off their prison sentences.
- Apple’s desktop operating system, macOS Big Sur, was named after this region.
Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua National Tree Park is one of the finest hiking in the Californian desert area. You can spot many natural rock formations, a Palm tree Oasis and a perfect spot for nature lovers. It is a must-visit for incredible scenery and nature photography.
Best Time to Visit Joshua Tree National Park – The best time to visit Joshua Tree National Park is March to May and October to November. Summertime is scorching here.
Things to do in Joshua National Park – Natural wonders in California
- Hidden Valley Nature Trail
- Keys View
- Barker Dam Nature Trail
- Camping, Bird Watching & Rock Climbing
- Cholla Cactus garden
- Skull Rock
- Ryan Mountain Hike
- Keys Ranch Guided tours
- Cottonwood Spring Oasis
Useful Tip – Carry lots of water and food with you as you will not find many restaurants here. Wear proper footwear, and don’t touch flora and fauna here. Bring sun protection gear with you.
GENERAL TIPS FOR FIRST TIMERS – 5 Best Nature Spots In California
- Check current weather conditions on trusted government websites before you start for any of these nature spots in California.
- Many National Parks need pre-advanced bookings, so check the day slots available to avoid last-minute distress.
- Some places are scorching and desert types, so carry sun protection gear and enough fluids, and check the temperature of your vehicle regularly.
- Respect nature and do not trash around being a responsible traveler.
- Some parts are famous for snowy winter activities, so book those winter resorts and activities in advance.
I hope you loved reading 5 Best Nature Spots In California or Best California Nature spots and will soon plan your California road trip.
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