California National Parks


Pictured is Yosemite National Park

The National Parks Service was formed in 1916 through an act of congress. Of 59 national parks and hundreds of monuments, recreation areas and other designations, the agency which operates under the Department of Interior seeks to preserve treasured lands and wildlife for generations to come.

If it seems confusing whether you're visiting a national or state park, there's good reason. Redwood forests share the honors in Redwood National and State Parks. And Yosemite, established in 1864 as the first state park in California, was designated as the third national park in 1890. Confusing?


Channel Islands National Park
Ventura, CA

Channel Islands National Park encompasses five incredible, diverse islands (Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Miguel, and Santa Barbara) and their ocean environment, preserving and protecting a wealth of natural and cultural resources. Isolation over thousands of years has created unique animals, plants, and archeological resources found nowhere. Close to the California mainland, yet worlds apart, one of the islands is considered the Galapagos of California because of this unique situation.

Death Valley National Park
Death Valley, CA, NV

In this below-sea-level basin, steady drought and record summer heat make Death Valley a land of extremes. Hottest, Driest, Lowest: A superlative desert of streaming sand dunes, snow-capped mountains, multicolored rock layers, water-fluted canyons and 3 million acres of wilderness. It's home to the Timbisha Shoshone people and to plants and animals unique to the harshest desert.

Joshua Tree National Park
Southern California between I-10 and Hwy 62; headquarters in Twentynine Palms, CA

Viewed from the road, this desert park only hints at its vitality. Closer examination reveals a fascinating variety of plants and animals that make their home in this land shaped by strong winds, unpredictable torrents of rain, and climatic extremes. Dark night skies, a rich cultural history, and surreal geologic features add to the attraction of this place.

Kings Canyon National Park
In the southern Sierra Nevada in Tulare and Fresno counties, CA

This landscape testifies to nature's size, beauty, and diversity - huge mountains, rugged foothills, deep canyons, vast caverns, and the world's largest trees! These two parks lie side by side in the southern Sierra Nevada, east of the San Joaquin Valley. Visitor activities vary by season and elevation (1,300' to 14,494')

Lassen Volcanic National Park
Mineral, CA

Witness a brief moment in the ancient battle between the forces of creation and destruction in Lassen, where all four types of volcanoes on Earth exist in one place! Nestled within Lassen's peaceful mountain forests you will find that hissing fumaroles and boiling mud pots still shape and change the land. Jagged peaks tell the story of its eruptive past while hot water continues to mold the land.

Pinnacles National Park
Paicines, CA

Hike through chaparral, oak woodlands, and canyon bottoms to discover 23 million-year-old rock formations formed by multiple volcanic eruptions. Talus caves inhabited by bats and towering rock spires teem with life. Don't be surprised to witness Golden eagles, California condor and Peregrine falcons.

Redwood National and State Parks
Del Norte & Humboldt counties , CA

Redwood National and State Parks are home to the world's tallest trees—mist-laden primeval forests bordering crystal-clear streams. Did you know that the parks also protect nearly 40 miles of wild coastline, prairies and oak woodlands which support a  mosaic of wildlife diversity and cultural traditions?

Sequoia (& Kings Canyon) National Parks
In the southern Sierra Nevada in Tulare and Fresno counties, CA

This landscape testifies to nature's size, beauty, and diversity - huge mountains, rugged foothills, deep canyons, vast caverns, and the world's largest trees! These two parks lie side by side in the southern Sierra Nevada, east of the San Joaquin Valley. Visitor activities vary by season and elevation (1,300' to 14,494')

Yosemite National Park
the Sierra Nevada, CA

Yosemite National Park, one of the first wilderness parks in the United States, is best known Half Dome, Ansel Adams and its waterfalls, but within its nearly 1,200 square miles, you can find deep valleys, grand meadows, ancient giant sequoias, a vast wilderness area, and much more. A shrine to human foresight, strength of granite, power of glaciers, the persistence of life, and the tranquility of the High Sierra, be sure to see it at least once.


California has the most national parks of any of the 27 states that have national parks. A fascinating, commemorative book, 59 Illustrated National Parks, celebrates the Centennial of the National Park Service with striking poster images of California's nine national parks.



Alcatraz Island - Golden Gate National Recreation Area
San Francisco, CA

Alcatraz Island offers a close-up look at the site of the first lighthouse and US built fort on the West Coast, the infamous federal penitentiary long off-limits to the public, and the 18 month occupation by Indians of All Tribes which saved the tribes. Its rich history is documented in the Alcatraz Island Museum, but there is also a natural side to the Rock—gardens, tide pools, bird colonies, and bay views beyond compare.

Cabrillo National Monument
San Diego, CA
Climbing out of his boat and onto shore in 1542, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo stepped into history as the first European to set foot on what is now the West Coast of the United States. In addition to telling the story of 16th century exploration, the park is home to a wealth of cultural and natural resources. Join us and embark on your own Voyage of Discovery.
The tidepools of Cabrillo National Monument

Follow in the footsteps of over 250,000 emigrants who traveled to the gold fields and rich farmlands of California during the 1840s and 1850s-the greatest mass migration in American history. More than 1,000 miles of trail ruts and traces can still be seen across 10 states on the California National Historic Trail.
Chimney Rock was an important emigrant landmark in western Nebraska

Cesar E. Chavez
Yes, we can! Widely recognized as the most important Latino leader in the United States during the twentieth century, César E. Chávez led farm workers and supporters in the establishment of the country's first permanent agricultural union. His leadership brought sustained international attention to the plight of U.S. farm workers, and secured for them higher wages and safer working conditions
Workers in a field as a protest begins.

Devils Postpile
the Sierra Nevada near Mammoth Lakes, CA
Established in 1911 by presidential proclamation, Devils Postpile National Monument protects and preserves the Devils Postpile formation, the 101-foot high Rainbow Falls, and pristine mountain scenery. The formation is a rare sight in the geologic world and ranks as one of the world's finest examples of columnar basalt. Its columns tower 60 feet high and display an unusual symmetry.
Devils Postpile Formation

Eugene O'Neill
Danville, CA
America's only Nobel Prize winning playwright, Eugene O'Neill, chose to live in Northern California at the height of his writing career. Isolated from the world and within the walls of his home, O'Neill wrote his final and most memorable plays; The Iceman Cometh, Long Day's Journey Into Night, and A Moon for the Misbegotten.

Fort Point
Presidio of San Francisco, CA
From its vantage point overlooking the spectacular Golden Gate, Fort Point protected San Francisco harbor from Confederate and foreign attack during and after the U.S. Civil War. Its beautifully arched casemates display the art of the master brick mason from the Civil War period.
Line of Civil War re-enactors in uniforms with guns at Fort Point

Golden Gate
San Francisco, CA
Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) chronicles two hundred years of history, from the Native American culture, the Spanish Empire frontier and the Mexican Republic, to maritime history, the California Gold Rush, the evolution of American coastal fortifications, and the growth of urban San Francisco.
View of the Golden Gate Bridge, taken from the Marin Headlands, looking across the bay back towards San Francisco, seen in the distance.

John Muir
Martinez, CA
John Muir played many roles in his life, all of which helped him succeed in his role as an advocate for Nature. As America's most famous naturalist and conservationist, Muir fought to protect the wild places he loved, places we can still visit today. Muir's writings convinced the U.S. government to protect Yosemite, Sequoia, Grand Canyon and Mt. Rainier as national parks.
John Muir Banner

Juan Bautista de Anza
Nogales, AZ to San Francisco, CA, AZ,CA
"Everyone mount up!" was the rousing call from Juan Bautista de Anza. In 1775-76, Anza led more than 240 men, women and children on an epic journey to establish a settlement at San Francisco Bay. Follow their legacy along a 1,200-mile historic trail from Nogales, Arizona, to the Bay Area. For a dynamic online Anza Trail experience, follow the link below to our partner site

Lava Beds
Tulelake, CA
Lava Beds National Monument is a land of turmoil, both geological and historical. Over the last half-million years, volcanic eruptions on the Medicine Lake shield volcano have created a rugged landscape dotted with diverse volcanic features. More than 700 caves, Native American rock art sites, historic battlefields and campsites, and a high desert wilderness

Independence, CA
In 1942, the United States government ordered more than 110,000 men, women, and children to leave their homes and detained them in remote, military-style camps. Manzanar War Relocation Center was one of ten camps where Japanese American citizens and resident Japanese aliens were interned during World War II.

Southern California between I-15 and I-40; headquarters in Barstow, CA
Singing sand dunes, volcanic cinder cones, Joshua tree forests, and carpets of wildflowers are all found at this 1.6 million acre park. A visit to its canyons, mountains and mesas will reveal long-abandoned mines, homesteads, and rock-walled military outposts. Located between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, Mojave provides serenity and solitude from major metropolitan areas.

Muir Woods
Mill Valley, CA
When John Muir learned that William and Elizabeth Kent were naming a redwood forest near San Francisco in his honor, he declared, "This is the best tree-lovers monument that could possibly be found in all the forests of the world." The couple had purchased the land to preserve its beauty and restful wilderness; and in 1908, they donated it to the federal government to protect it from destruction.
Visitors from all over the world come to explore the tranquility, beauty, and nature sounds of Muir Woods National Monument.

Old Spanish
Follow the routes of mule pack trains across the Southwest on the Old Spanish National Historic Trail between Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Los Angeles, California. New Mexican traders moved locally produced merchandise across what are now six states to exchange for mules and horses.

Paicines, CA
Rising out of the chaparral-covered Gabilan Mountains, east of central California's Salinas Valley, are the spectacular remains of an ancient volcanic field. Massive monoliths, spires, sheer-walled canyons and talus passages define millions of years of erosion, faulting and tectonic plate movement.

Point Reyes
Point Reyes, CA
From its thunderous ocean breakers crashing against rocky headlands and expansive sand beaches to its open grasslands, brushy hillsides, and forested ridges, Point Reyes offers visitors over 1500 species of plants and animals to discover. Home to several cultures over thousands of years, the Seashore preserves a tapestry of stories and interactions of people. Point Reyes awaits your exploration.

Pony Express
It is hard to believe that young men once rode horses to carry mail from Missouri to California in the unprecedented time of only 10 days. This relay system along the Pony Express National Historic Trail in eight states was the most direct and practical means of east-west communications before the telegraph.

Port Chicago Naval Magazine
Concord Naval Weapons Station, CA
On the evening of July 17, 1944, residents in the San Francisco east bay area were jolted awake by a massive explosion that cracked windows and lit up the night sky. At Port Chicago Naval Magazine, 320 men were instantly killed when two ships being loaded with ammunition for the Pacific theatre troops blew up. It was WWII's worst homefront disaster.

Presidio of San Francisco
San Francisco, CA
For 218 years, the Presidio served as an army post for three nations. World and local events, from military campaigns to World Fairs and earthquakes, left their mark. Come enjoy the history and the natural beauty of the Presidio. Explore centuries of architecture. Reflect in a national cemetery. Walk along an historic airfield, through forests or to beaches, and admire spectacular vistas.
East view from Crissy Field overlook with old Coast Guard station on left and city on right

Del Norte & Humboldt counties , CA
Most people know Redwood as home to the tallest trees on Earth. But the parks also protect vast prairies, oak woodlands, wild riverways, and nearly 40 miles of pristine coastline, all supporting a rich mosaic of wildlife diversity and cultural traditions. Together, the National Park Service and California State Parks manage these lands for the inspiration, enjoyment, and education of all people.

Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front
Richmond, CA
Explore and honor the efforts and sacrifices of American civilians on the World War II home front. Find out how they lived, worked and got along. Many faces, many stories, many truths weave a complex tapestry of myths and realities from this time of opportunity and loss.
Two women defense workers, and the Red Oak Victory Ship in

San Francisco Maritime
San Francisco, CA
Stand on the stern of BALCLUTHA, face west to feel the fresh wind blowing in from the Pacific Ocean. Located in the Fisherman's Wharf neighborhood, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park offers the sights, sounds, smells and stories of Pacific Coast maritime history.

Santa Monica Mountains
Thousand Oaks, CA
Stretching from the Oxnard Plain to the Hollywood Hills and located to the west of the Los Angeles basin, the Santa Monica Mountains offer myriad recreation and education opportunities. Experience famous beaches of Malibu or explore any of the 500 miles of trails. The park abounds with historical & cultural sites from old movie ranches to Native American culture centers. What will you discover?

Sequoia & Kings Canyon
In the southern Sierra Nevada in Tulare and Fresno counties, CA
This landscape testifies to nature's size, beauty, and diversity - huge mountains, rugged foothills, deep canyons, vast caverns, and the world's largest trees. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks lie side-by-side in the southern Sierra Nevada, east of the San Joaquin Valley. Visitor activities vary by season and elevation (1,370 to 14,494 feet).

Whiskeytown, CA
Whiskeytown Lake's beautiful sapphire-blue waters, surrounded by mountain peaks, are perhaps the most prominent feature of the park. However, water-based recreation is only a small part of what the park has to offer. The 39,000 acres surrounding the lake hold four waterfalls, pristine mountain creeks, 70 miles of trails, and opportunities to explore the history of the California Gold Rush.

World War II Valor in the Pacific
Honolulu, HI,AK,CA
World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument preserves and interprets the stories of the Pacific War, including the events at Pearl Harbor, the internment of Japanese Americans, the battles in the Aleutians, and the occupation of Japan.

By The Numbers
26 national parks
35,991,200 visitors to national parks

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