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The Lesser known California National Parks and Sites in California

Importance of the Californian National Parks

California National Parks and State parks are rich in biodiversity with a vast variety of flora and fauna. Their primary purpose is to protect the environment through sustainable agriculture, energy reduction, and boosting the region’s economy through tourism opportunities. These parks are a home to wild species and landscapes like ancient mountains, geothermal springs, arid deserts and expansive sequoia forests. The different outdoor adventures available for visitors to explore include skiing, hiking, white water rafting, camping and kayaking. 

California’s highest ranked and most visited parks:

  • Yosemite National Park
  • Redwood National
  • State Parks
  • Lassen Volcanic National Park
  • Joshua Tree National Park
  • Sequoia National Park
  • Kings Canyon National Park
  • Death Valley National Park 
  • Channel Islands National Park

Some of California’s Lesser known National Parks and Sites:

Shasta Cascade – Lava Beds National Monument

The ancient and strange lava tube caves formed here as a result of the flowing lava cooling down eventually and then hardening into these geographic features. These amount to more than 700 caves. Animal diversity like bats, coyotes, migratory birds, mule deers, bald eagles and kangaroo rats are found here. In summer this region of California warms up with daytime temperatures reaching 37°C. However, inside the tubes the temperature remains conveniently low and ice can be found all year here. Historically these caves were used as hideouts in the Modoc War (1972-73) in which the U.S Troops fought against the Native Americans. The caves inside the Sasha Cascade vary in their difficulty levels. Beginners are advised to explore the Hopkins Chocolate Cave or Blue Grotto Cave first. Once you are an expert and ready for a challenge then you can visit the Catacombs Cave as well. 

San Francisco Bay Area – Golden Gate National Recreation Area

The Golden Gate Bridge park extends over 80,000 acres and is a refuge for anyone seeking a break from urban infrastructure or lifestyle in general. Here you can have scenic views of primitive tree species, majestic whales in the Muir Beach Overlook and the dark blue crystal waters of the Pacific. The Park is renowned for its remarkable natural landscapes as well as cultural and historical sights. These include the redwood forests, seaside recreation facilities, enclosures for the protection of endangered animals, shipwrecks, lighthouses, prisoners and many more such items of fascination. The diversification through the bay and ocean shoreline, grassy bluffs, Muir woods, maples, oak trees and Douglas firs all are attractions that visitors never miss. The Golden Gate NRA was a home to the aboriginal Coastal Miwok and Ohlone people and still contains many of their native infrastructures. 

3) San Diego County – Torrey Pines State National Reserve

This coastal park situated near La Jolla extends about 2000 acres and is surrounded by pine trees. It preserves its namesake, Torrey Pine Tree and other native wildlife. During the weekend or on public holidays, volunteers arrange for nature walks in this park. Along with the sandstone canyons you will find well-kept trails which provide a good overlook of the Pacific ocean. There are three known trails present. The Guy Fleming Trail is the easiest one with both a North and South overlook. Then comes the Razor Point Trail with a number of ravines and badlands. Third is the Beach Trail which is the most strenuous and least scenic one of all. It is a good picnic spot as well. 

4) The Deserts – Mojave National Preserve 

Located in the midst of Los Angeles and Las Vegas, the Mojave National Park serves as a great enclave for arid canyons,domes and flowing lava, mountains and sand dunes. Due to a variety of soil compositions, this Preserve is a habitat for many plants and animals such Cholla cacti, Joshua trees, plant communities of white fir and chaparral.  Although the Preserve seems barren and devoid of life, on a closer examination it can be found that the type of animals active depends on the time of the day, weather and other such factors. Lizards, birds, desert rodents, bats, skunks, foxes or mountain lions can be found here. 

5) Los Angeles County – Antelope Valley California Poppy State National Reserve

This is a state-protected reserve in the rural west of the Antelope Valley. In springtime watch the beautiful technicolour of California poppies at the Antelope Valley Reserve. This is the state official national flower with bright orangish hues unfurling in light. The best timing for opening of poppies is midmorning. When it gets cold and windy, the flowers may not blossom well. 8 miles of trail runs through this reserve but hikers mostly choose the North and South loop while also dropping by the Tehachapi Vista Point. In order to protect the flowers, pets or animals like sheep and cattle are prohibited from grazing the hillsides. Though the park is close to the city, it has a rustic touch with benches to allow you to sit and relax. 

6) High Sierra – Tahoe National Forest

This has a vast territory rangin from the golden foothills on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada mountains to the high peaks of Sierra crest. This is dominated by thick forests, reservoirs, many lakes and river canyons. The forest has a Native American trail route called Big Bend and sections of the Pacific Crest Trail. The people of Nashoe and Nisenan tribes utilized these lands searching for food, shelter and grazing grounds. People from different countries around the globe visit the Tahoe National Forest for recreational activities such as hiking, skiing, sightseeing, camping and fishing. 

7) Gold Country – Plumas National Forest

The versatile land features and the perfect climate appeal to outdoor enthusiasts who come to visit the Plumas National Park which is in the north of Sacramento. The lakes, streams, deep canyons, mountain valleys and luscious meadows here are worth the sight. The rivers in this forest may be rugged and inaccessible especially in the wild zone, the cliffs, waterfalls and huge boulders prevent most people from hiking and exploring the route. The 640 ft waterfall, Feather Fall is the most remarkable feature for it is positioned at a very suitable elevation.  

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