Explore California’s many National Parks, Reserves and Seashores. Park visitors will find picturesque valleys, rugged Sierra peaks, redwood forests, trackless deserts and coastal wetlands. Each area in this section is covered in detail with a printable map, park contact information, hiking and other recreation opportunities, campground locations, wildlife, terrain and other facts to help you plan a trip. Check with the ranger stations at each area to get the National Park Service brochure with more detailed hiking trails and campground information. Visitor Centers at each park sell large-scale topographic maps with hiking trails, lakes, rivers and terrain.
We have included a number of National Parks in our Scenic Drives
– a driving tour is a great way to get familiar with these vast lands. If you are traveling in the summer when the most popular California parks get crowded (Yosemite primarily), consider avoiding the main roads; seek out the backcountry hiking trails for a more peaceful experience. Mountain and desert region parks close roads and trails in winter when conditions warrant so it is best to plan ahead. Some roads may be open but require chains on tires. In winter, check out parks like Joshua Tree where temperatures are pleasant during the day (much less so in summer) or a coastal park like Point Reyes because the nearby ocean moderates the climate, reducing extremes.
In addition to National Parks, California has over 200 State Parks. There are numerous National Forests and Wilderness Areas managed by the U.S. Forest Service. Finally, California has many beautiful county/regional parks with hiking trails and other facilities. Our California Regions section has 13 maps with many of these parks, forests, recreation areas and hiking trails identified.