5 Stunning National Parks to Visit in California

With 59 National Parks to fall in love with across the United States, deciding which ones to explore might feel like an unexpected challenge. If you are a west coast local or just in town for a few days, here are five National Parks that you absolutely must visit.

Yosemite National Park
There is so much to see in Yosemite National Park and valley that you might not know where to begin! Take a deep breath and explore slowly. Yosemite is the perfect place to find peace amongst beautiful sequoias, North America's tallest waterfall at almost 2,500 feet high, and stunning rock formations. Make this a multi-day trip to avoid rushing with the crowds of day visitors.

Channel Islands National Park
Not an expected National Park, as it is off the mainland, the Channel Islands is a set of five islands where adventurers go to test their love for the wild. If you are good at planning (there are no shops to buy things you forget), sign up for a boat ride out to the Channel Islands and take your pick at activities like backcountry camping, kayaking and snorkeling, hiking, and maybe even some whale watching!

Redwood National Park
If you are a Jurassic Park fan, you will love the Redwood National and State Park in California simply for Fern Canyon (it was filmed in "The Lost World: Jurassic Park"). If you are a fauna and flora enthusiast, you'll obsess over the entire park even more. Beyond scoping out herds of Roosevelt Elk and being surrounded by towering redwoods, Fern Canyon will have you geeking over its Jurassic-esque environment. Moss and fern hang from the canyon walls and the short, easy hike makes for a perfect day trip.

Joshua Tree National Park
If you are seeking a perfectly unpolluted night sky for star gazing, Joshua Tree is paradise. While the trails are enjoyable, (at least) one night camping will totally make the visit worth it. Stop by the charming Pioneertown while you're in the Yucca region: it is a former movie town constructed for old western films that remained standing.

Death Valley National Park
Named the consistently hottest place in the world at 134°F, Death Valley is no joke. Visit this famous National Park in the winter and early spring to (try to) avoid a heat stroke and take advantage of the Badwater Basin salt flats, a breathtaking view overlooking the valley, and challenging trails.

Which will you visit first?

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Olivia Christine is an explorer, travel writer, content creator, and MapQuest Parachute contributor.