By Michael Lanza
Examine the wealth of natural places protected within our 59 national parks, and you’ll quickly see that no state has more than California’s nine (more even than Alaska’s eight). And arguably, no state has a greater diversity of parks than the Golden State, from desert to snowy mountains, giant sequoias and redwoods to rocky islands, the highest peak in the Lower 48 to the lowest and hottest patch of scorched earth. The list includes some of our most iconic and beloved parks and some of the least-known, least-crowded, and most mysterious: Channel Islands. Death Valley. Joshua Tree. Kings Canyon. Lassen Volcanic. Pinnacles. Redwood. Sequoia. Yosemite.
Doesn’t that list make you want to start planning a trip right now?
How many lifetimes would it take to really explore all of California’s national parks? I’m confident the answer is one, and I’m two-thirds of the way there and working hard on my list. See the gallery below of photos from five of California’s nine national parks, and I think you’ll discover some inspiration and ideas for your next adventure.
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See a menu of all of my stories about adventures in national parks in the Golden State, or scroll down to California on my All Trips By State page. Or click on the name of any California park in the list below for stories about it that I’ve posted at The Big Outside:
See also my stories “The 10 Best Dayhikes in Yosemite,” “Best of Yosemite, Part 1: Backpacking South of Tuolumne Meadows,” “Heavy Lifting: Backpacking Sequoia National Park,” my feature story about thru-hiking the John Muir Trail, and “Roof of the High Sierra: A Father-Son Climb of California’s Mount Whitney.”
Read about my National Outdoor Book Award-winning book, Before They’re Gone—A Family’s Quest to Explore America’s Most Endangered National Parks, which chronicles the year my family spent taking wilderness adventures in 11 parks threatened by climate change.
Do you like The Big Outside? I’m Michael Lanza, the creator of The Big Outside, recognized as a top outdoors blog by a USA Today Readers Choice poll and others. Subscribe for updates about new stories and free gear giveaways by entering your email address in the box at the bottom of this story or in the left sidebar, and follow my adventures on Facebook and Twitter.
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