Spectacular canyons, scenic rivers and towering mountains: The Golden State holds many natural wonders for both you and the kids to explore. The next time you plan a family-friendly road trip, complete with Travel Tray and snacks for the kids, set course for an outdoor adventure at one of California National Parks.
Here are just a few of our favorite California National Parks.
California’s newest national park, Pinnacles gets its name from towering, domed rock structures formed by an ancient volcano. Visitors are surrounded by natural beauty while camping, hiking, climbing, or bird-watching. Moses Spring Trail takes visitors up 377 feet to Bear Gulch Reservoir. Sky-high volcanic structures line the trail, which includes two accessible, but adventurous underworld caves (don’t forget a flashlight!). Enhance your family’s experience by joining a free ranger program – available on weekends through mid-December. There is a $30.00 entrance fee per vehicle.
Hike and camp amid soaring redwoods. A wealth of trails lead families to Redwood National Park visitor centers, sandy beaches, and dramatic views. Perched 650 feet above the sea, Klamath River Overlook provides visitors with a prime spot for watching migrating grey whales, along with crashing surf. In spring and summer, the High Bluff Overlook picnic area offers views of sea lions, brown pelicans and thousands of seabirds nesting on offshore rocks. There are a variety of activities, programs, and adventures for kids as well. Redwood National Park is free to visit.
Families visit Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks to see the world’s largest trees; although that’s not the only thing these parks have to offer. There are also soaring mountains and roaring rivers. Can’t miss activities include joining a ranger-led program, taking a moonlight walk, or exploring an underground cavern (a guided tour is the only way to visit Crystal Cave). Kids ages five and up can even earn badges by completing fun, hands-on activities in the park’s Junior Ranger handout, which is available at any visitor center. There is a $30.00 entrance fee per vehicle.
Best known for its tranquil waterfalls and spectacular granite peaks, Yosemite also features alpine meadows, giant sequoia groves, and magnificent vistas. Must see landmarks include Half Dome, Clouds Rest, and Yosemite Falls. Additionally, there are about twelve easy trailheads, making them ideal for families. Yosemite offers a range of informative ranger walks and talks such as photography walks, outdoor adventures, and Yosemite theater. A Junior Ranger program for kids ages five and up is also available. There is a $30.00 entrance fee per vehicle.
*All entrance fees are valid for seven days.
**Annual passes are also available for purchase.
***Camping is available at all four national parks.