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 really difficult to cover all spots in one article about California’s nature. Let’s read about some of the most visited 5 best nature spots in California with things to do, the best time to visit, useful 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 at northern California’s Sierra Nevada mountain, here you can enjoy outdoor nature activities like hiking, climbing mountains, horseback riding, river rafting, in summers and snow skiing, 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 one. This entrance is closed in wintertime and can be accessed through the nearby city Mammoth lake.
USEFUL TIP – After Covid, Yosemite National Park is giving permits to car entrance slots that need to be booked in advance. Click on their official website to reserve your slots.
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 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 popularly visited attraction too. The clear 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 would amaze you and it is a summer and winter-friendly destination.
Useful Tip – Do check forest fire information in the summertime as many times main highway close due to the forest fire.
Best Time to Visit – All seasons – Summer to enjoy summer activities and winter for special 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 surrounded by giant mountains.
- The circumference of the lake 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 amongst adventure junkies. You must have spotted the Death Valley National Park in many movie backdrops because of its rough, adventure friendly and picturesque desert landscape.
Best Time to Visit – The extreme temperature in summer is recorded to 57 deg Celsius (134 deg F). So better to plan this destination in winter or else a summer road trip at this place would be full of adventures.
USEFUL TIP – Please close the Car AC when driving during mid-afternoon in summers 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
- Located in two states – California and Nevada, Death Valley is the lowest point in North America.
- In July 2018, it experienced the hottest day on the 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 till 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 longest and scenic stretch of underdeveloped coastline in the United States of America. This region would captivate you with enchanting beauties of the tallest trees, Redwoods forest, waterfalls along the rugged coastline. It receives a high amount of visitors every year, especially in the summer season 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 for the most beautiful drives in the world.
Best time to Visit Big Sur – Summer is the best time to visit Big Sur and is a peak season where 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 wonderful 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 very hot here.
Things to do in Joshua National Park
- 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 recent 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 very hot and desert types, so carry sun protection gear, enough fluids, and check the temperature of your vehicle regularly.
- Respect nature and do not trash around being a responsible traveler.
- Some parts are very famous for snowy winter activities and so book in advance those winter resorts and activities.
I hope you loved reading 5 Best Nature Spots In California and would cover more places in California in my upcoming articles.
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