California National Parks

North Coast | Shasta Cascade | Gold Country | San Francisco & Bay Area | High Sierra | Central Valley
Deserts | Central Coast | Inland Empire | Los Angeles County | San Diego County

Spotlights


San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park

This unique Park, located at the west end of San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf, includes the fleet of historic vessels at Hyde Street Pier, the Maritime Museum, and the Maritime Museum Library. Board turn-of-the-century ships, tour the Museum and learn traditional arts -- like boatbuilding and woodworking.  The Park offers history, music and craft programs for all ages.

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Whiskeytown National Recreation Area

With its mountainous back country and man-made large reservoir, Whiskeytown offers many summer activities such as hiking and boating as well as the historical remains of buildings built during the California Gold Rush of 1849. Whiskeytown Lake, with 36 miles of shoreline and covering 3200 acres, is excellent for most water-related activities, including swimming, scuba diving, water skiing, boating and fishing.

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North Coast Shasta Cascade


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Redwood National and State Parks - Redwood National and State Parks are home to some of the world's tallest trees: old-growth coast redwoods. They can live to be 2,000 years old and grow to over 300 feet tall.

 

Gold Country

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California National Historic Trail - The California Trail carried over 200,000 gold-seekers and farmers to the gold fields and rich farmlands of California during the 1840's and 1850's, the greatest mass migration in American history. Today, more than 1,000 miles of trail ruts and traces can still be seen in the vast undeveloped lands between Casper Wyoming and the West Coast, reminders of the sacrifices, struggles, and triumphs of early American travelers and settlers.

Pony Express National Historic Trail - The Pony Express National Historic Trail was used by young men on fast paced horses to carry the nation's mail across the country, from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California, in the unprecedented time of only ten days. Organized by private entrepreneurs, the horse-and-rider relay system became the nation's most direct and practical means of east-west communications before the telegraph.

San Francisco & Bay Area

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Alcatraz Island - Alcatraz Island is one of Golden Gate National Recreation Area's most popular destinations, offering a close-up look at a historic and infamous federal prison long off-limits to the public.  Daily tours run to the island where hardened criminals like Al Capone and the Anglin brothers once lived.

Eugene O'neill National Historic Site - Eugene Gladstone O'Neill, the only Nobel Prize winning playwright from the United States and the architect of modern American theater, lived at Tao House in the hills above Danville from 1937 to 1944. It was at this site that he wrote his final and most successful plays; "The Iceman Cometh," "Long Days Journey Into Night," and "A Moon For the Misbegotten."

Fort Point National Historic Site - Fort Point was constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers between 1853 and 1861 to prevent entrance of a hostile fleet into San Francisco Bay.  Fort Point is the only third system brick fort on the west coast of the United States.

Golden Gate National Recreation Area - The Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) is one of the largest urban national parks in the world.  GGNRA’s 75,398 acres of land and water extend north of the Golden Gate Bridge to Tomales Bay in Marin County and south to San Mateo County, encompassing 59 miles of bay and ocean shoreline. These lands represent one of the nation’s largest coastal preserves and attract 16 million visitors each year.

John Muir National Historic Site - The Site preserves the 17 room mansion where the naturalist John Muir lived from 1890 to his death in 1914.

Juan Bautista De Anza National Historic Trail - The national trail commemorates the route followed by Anza in 1775-76 when he led a contingent of 30 soldiers and their families to found a presidio and mission on the San Francisco Bay. Along the trail route, visitors can experience the varied landscapes; learn the stories of the expedition, its members, and descendants; better understand the American Indian role in the expedition and the diversity of their cultures; and appreciate the extent of the effects of Spanish colonial settlement of Arizona and California.

Muir Woods National Monument - Until the 1800's, many northern California coastal valleys were covered with coast redwood trees similar to those now found in Muir Woods National Monument.  Today, the National Monument preserves the last old growth coast redwood forest in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Point Reyes National Seashore - Point Reyes National Seashore contains unique elements of biological and historical interest in a spectacularly scenic panorama of thunderous ocean breakers, open grasslands, bushy hillsides and forested ridges. Native land mammals number about 37 species and marine mammals augment this total by another dozen species.

Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial - Port Chicago Naval Magazine was dedicated as a national memorial to honor the courage and commitment of the 320 Sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, Merchant Mariners, and workers killed and injured there during World War II. It recognizes the critical role they and the survivors of the explosion played in winning the war in the Pacific.

Presidio of San Francisco - The Presidio preserves an astonishingly complex cultural and natural heritage within its 1480 acres.  Within its boundaries are more than 500 historic buildings, a collection of coastal defense fortifications, a national cemetery, an historic airfield, a saltwater marsh, forests, beaches, native plant habitats, coastal bluffs, miles of hiking and biking, and some of the most spectacular vistas in the world.

Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park - The World War II Home Front is a significant chapter in America's history. Women affectionately known as "Rosies" helped change industry and had sweeping and lasting impacts. Richmond, California played a significant and nationally recognized part in the World War II Home Front. The four Richmond shipyards, with their combined 27 shipways, produced 747 ships, more than any other shipyard complex in the country.

San Francisco Maritime National Park - This unique Park, located at the west end of San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf, includes the fleet of historic vessels at Hyde Street Pier, the Maritime Museum, and the Maritime Museum Library. Board turn-of-the-century ships, tour the Museum and learn traditional arts -- like boatbuilding and woodworking.  The Park offers history, music and craft programs for all ages.

Central Coast

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Juan Bautista De Anza National Historic Trail - The national trail commemorates the route followed by Anza in 1775-76 when he led a contingent of 30 soldiers and their families to found a presidio and mission on the San Francisco Bay. Along the trail route, visitors can experience the varied landscapes; learn the stories of the expedition, its members, and descendants; better understand the American Indian role in the expedition and the diversity of their cultures; and appreciate the extent of the effects of Spanish colonial settlement of Arizona and California.

Pinnacles National Monument - Rising out of the chaparral-covered Gabilan Mountains, east of central California's Salinas Valley, are the spectacular remains of an ancient volcano. Massive monoliths, spires, sheer-walled canyons and talus passages define millions of years of erosion, faulting and tectonic plate movement. Within the monument's boundaries lie 24,000 acres of diverse wildlands.

 

Los Angeles County

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Channel Island National Park - Comprised of five in a chain of eight southern California islands near Los Angeles, Channel Islands National Park is home to a wide variety of nationally and internationally significant natural and cultural resources. Over 2,000 species of plants and animals can be found within the park.

Juan Bautista De Anza National Historic Trail - The national trail commemorates the route followed by Anza in 1775-76 when he led a contingent of 30 soldiers and their families to found a presidio and mission on the San Francisco Bay. Along the trail route, visitors can experience the varied landscapes; learn the stories of the expedition, its members, and descendants; better understand the American Indian role in the expedition and the diversity of their cultures; and appreciate the extent of the effects of Spanish colonial settlement of Arizona and California.

Old Spanish National Historic Trail - The Old Spanish Trail was a pack mule trail linking land-locked New Mexico with coastal California between 1829 and 1848. Over this trail moved people, goods, and ideas. Recognizing the national significance of this historic long distance trade route, in 2002 Congress designated it the Old Spanish National Historic Trail.

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area - Santa Monica Mountains rise above Los Angeles, widen to meet the curve of Santa Monica Bay and reach their highest peaks facing the ocean, forming a beautiful and multi-faceted landscape.  Located in a Mediterranean ecosystem, the Santa Monica Mountains contain a wide variety of plants and wildlife.


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California National Historic Trail - The California Trail carried over 200,000 gold-seekers and farmers to the gold fields and rich farmlands of California during the 1840's and 1850's, the greatest mass migration in American history. Today, more than 1,000 miles of trail ruts and traces can still be seen in the vast undeveloped lands between Casper Wyoming and the West Coast, reminders of the sacrifices, struggles, and triumphs of early American travelers and settlers.

Lassen Volcanic National Park - Lassen Volcanic became a national park in 1916 because of its significance as an active volcanic landscape. Lassen Peak began erupting in 1914, had the most significant activity in 1915, and had minor activity until 1921. All four types of volcanoes in the world are found in Lassen's 106,000 acres.

Lava Beds National Monument - Volcanic eruptions on the Medicine Lake shield volcano have created an incredibly rugged landscape punctuated by cinder cones, lava flows, spatter cones, lava tube caves and pit craters. Visitors can tour both the geologic and historic wonders of this unusual landscape.

Whiskeytown National Recreation Area - With its mountainous back country and man-made large reservoir, Whiskeytown offers many summer activities such as hiking and boating as well as the historical remains of buildings built during the California Gold Rush of 1849. Whiskeytown Lake, with 36 miles of shoreline and covering 3200 acres, is excellent for most water-related activities, including swimming, scuba diving, water skiing, boating and fishing.

High Sierra

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California National Historic Trail - The California Trail carried over 200,000 gold-seekers and farmers to the gold fields and rich farmlands of California during the 1840's and 1850's, the greatest mass migration in American history. Today, more than 1,000 miles of trail ruts and traces can still be seen in the vast undeveloped lands between Casper Wyoming and the West Coast, reminders of the sacrifices, struggles, and triumphs of early American travelers and settlers.

Devil's Postpile National Monument - Geologic Wonders along a River of Life.  High on the western slope of the Sierra Crest, nature reveals two of its wonders - the weirdly wonderful "postpile" and the lovely San Joaquin River with its dramatic Rainbow Falls.  The geologic formation that is "the Postpile" is the world's finest example of unusual columnar basalt. Its columns of lava, with their four to seven sides, display a honeycomb pattern of order and harmony.

Manzanar National Historic Site - Manazanar War Relocation Center was one of ten camps at which Japanese American citizens and Japanese aliens were interned during World War II. Located at the foot of the imposing Sierra Nevada in eastern California's Owens Valley, Manzanar has been identified as the best preserved of these camps.

Pony Express National Historic Trail - The Pony Express National Historic Trail was used by young men on fast paced horses to carry the nation's mail across the country, from St. Joseph, Missouri to Sacramento, California, in the unprecedented time of only ten days. Organized by private entrepreneurs, the horse-and-rider relay system became the nation's most direct and practical means of east-west communications before the telegraph.

Sequoia & King's Canyon National Parks - These parks are home to giants: immense mountains, deep canyons, and huge trees. Thanks to their huge elevational range, 1,500' to 14,491', these parks protect stunningly diverse habitats.

Central Valley

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California National Historic Trail - The California Trail carried over 200,000 gold-seekers and farmers to the gold fields and rich farmlands of California during the 1840's and 1850's, the greatest mass migration in American history. Today, more than 1,000 miles of trail ruts and traces can still be seen in the vast undeveloped lands between Casper Wyoming and the West Coast, reminders of the sacrifices, struggles, and triumphs of early American travelers and settlers.

Yosemite National Park - Yosemite National Park embraces a spectacular tract of mountain-and-valley scenery in the Sierra Nevada, which was set aside as a national park in 1890. The park harbors a grand collection of waterfalls, meadows, and forests that include groves of giant sequoias, the world's largest living things.

 

Deserts

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Death Valley National Park - Death Valley National Park has more than 3.3 million acres of spectacular desert scenery, interesting and rare desert wildlife, complex geology, undisturbed wilderness, and sites of historical and cultural interest.

Joshua Tree National Park - Two deserts, two large ecosystems whose characteristics are determined primarily by elevation, come together at Joshua Tree National Park. Below 3,000 feet, the Colorado Desert encompasses the eastern part of the park and features natural gardens of creosote bush, ocotillo, and cholla cactus. The higher, moister, and slightly cooler Mojave Desert is the special habitat of the Joshua tree.

Juan Bautista De Anza National Historic Trail - The national trail commemorates the route followed by Anza in 1775-76 when he led a contingent of 30 soldiers and their families to found a presidio and mission on the San Francisco Bay. Along the trail route, visitors can experience the varied landscapes; learn the stories of the expedition, its members, and descendants; better understand the American Indian role in the expedition and the diversity of their cultures; and appreciate the extent of the effects of Spanish colonial settlement of Arizona and California.

Mojave National Preserve - Mojave National Preserve was created in October, 1994 when Congress passed the California Desert Protection Act. Congress acted to protect one of the most diverse desert environments in the world. Sand dunes, volcanic cinder cones, Joshua tree forests, vast vistas and mile-high mountains help define this amazing area within the Mojave Desert.

Old Spanish National Historic Trail - The Old Spanish Trail was a pack mule trail linking land-locked New Mexico with coastal California between 1829 and 1848. Over this trail moved people, goods, and ideas. Recognizing the national significance of this historic long distance trade route, in 2002 Congress designated it the Old Spanish National Historic Trail.

Inland Empire

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Juan Bautista De Anza National Historic Trail - The national trail commemorates the route followed by Anza in 1775-76 when he led a contingent of 30 soldiers and their families to found a presidio and mission on the San Francisco Bay. Along the trail route, visitors can experience the varied landscapes; learn the stories of the expedition, its members, and descendants; better understand the American Indian role in the expedition and the diversity of their cultures; and appreciate the extent of the effects of Spanish colonial settlement of Arizona and California.

Old Spanish National Historic Trail - The Old Spanish Trail was a pack mule trail linking land-locked New Mexico with coastal California between 1829 and 1848. Over this trail moved people, goods, and ideas. Recognizing the national significance of this historic long distance trade route, in 2002 Congress designated it the Old Spanish National Historic Trail.

San Diego County

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Cabrillo National Monument - The park offers a superb view of San Diego’s harbor and skyline. At the highest point of the park stands the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, which has been a San Diego icon since 1854. A statue and museum in the Visitor Center commemorate Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo's exploration of the coast of California in 1542.