California is not just the state of Hollywood and the long beaches of the Pacific . In this strip of land you can come across an infinity of landscapes , each one totally different from the other.
Unmissable on a road trip in the south-west state are the parks, many of which are among the most beautiful and interesting in the USA.
Here are the 5 best:
1. Yosemite National Park
The Yosemite National Park extends over the Sierra Nevada mountain range, about 300 km from San Francisco. An inevitable stop for a trip on the road in the southwest, the Yosemite has an area of over 3000 km² and offers an incredible variety of animal and plant species.
The rich fauna that populates the park, a UNESCO World Heritage since 1984, includes brown bears, wolves, marmots and many other species. Big attraction of the park are the redwoods, more than 1000 within the protected territory, many of which are located in Mariposa Grove, where the Wanona Tree resided, the huge tree in which a tunnel was dug at the end of ‘800 and fell into ruin 1969.
Another incredible place is the Yosemite Falls , the beautiful waterfalls that reach at their point more than 735 meters high. One of the best vantage points is at the Glacier Point at 2100 meters above sea level. The main attraction of the park is definitely the Half Dome , the very high granite rock that dominates all over the park with its 2700 meters, unfortunately not accessible to most as it requires some experience in climbing. Read more
2. Death Valley
Located on the border between Califonia and Nevada, Death Valley , as the name suggests, is an extensive desolate valley that offers landscapes of impressive beauty. The Death Valley manages to enchant and intimidate at the same time: of the great lakes and the lush area that was more than 10,000 years ago there is only a boundless desert landscape , theater of the great gold rush in the 800.
From the very beginning we perceive how this land is hostile to life : ghost town, abandoned mines and animal skeletons dot the valley of death. Gas stations and areas where water and food can be bought are scarce along the way, so take precautions before entering.
In the official site of the park ( here the link ) you can find all the precautions to which you need to undergo how to fill up with water and fuel and avoid getting stuck inside the desert area The temperatures in the warmer months exceed 45 degrees Celsius and phone coverage is really poor.
The valley offers several attractions such as the Dante’s View at 1669 m high on the Black Mountain, from which you can admire Mount Whitney (the highest of the park) and the great depression of Badwater . Another interesting point is Zabriskie Point , where you can admire an almost lunar landscape. Ryholite is instead a ghost town that at the time of the gold rush boasted a population of 10,000 inhabitants. But it does not end here: Death Valley is certainly one of the most impressive places in the US and in the world, one of those places to visit at least once in life, with due precautions. Read more
3. Joshua Tree National Park
Surely one of the most fascinating parks in the USA, the Joshua Tree National Park owes its name to the trees of Joshua, the trees that populate it named for their branches that rise up to the sky. What is surprising about this park is the cohesion between two different desert ecosystems, that of the Colorado Desert and the Mojave.
Not only that, the Josghua Tree offers an impressive sky during the night: far from the visual pollution it is possible to see the celestial vault in all its splendor. Among the great attractions of the park stand out the Keys View from which you can enjoy a breathtaking landscape, unmissable during the sunset, the Wonderland of Rocks , where it seems to have landed on the moon, the Black Rock Canyon from which to observe the forest of Joshua Tree and the Skull Rock the absurd rocks that the erosion of atmospheric agents has turned into real skulls. Read more .
4. Sequoia National Park
The Sequoia, however, most beautiful, most impressive are the Sequoia National Park, another wonder of south-central California. Together with Kings Canyon National Park they form a single large protected area that alternates impetuous peaks, placid rivers, sequoia forests and valleys with postcard views.
There are many activities that you can take part in the park and certainly the trekking is the most popular: the climb to the Moro Rock or the trail to the Crystal Cave are among the favorite routes. The protagonists are, however, the huge sequoia of the Giant Forest, which can be reached along 17 miles of hairpin bends. A few miles further north you will be able to get to know the world’s biggest living being, General Sherman , a 84-meter-tall sequoia weighing 1,910 tons. It is thought to have between 2300 and 2700 years! Read more .
Kings Canyon has very similar landscapes and is also home to several sequoia: do not underestimate it, but this park also offers beautiful trails and it is a wise idea to spend at least a full day.
5. Lassen Volcanic National Park
The Lassen Volcanic National Park fully represents the restlessness of California: gayser , boiling water springs and hot mud pools, all dominated by the Lassen Peak , the park’s symbolic volcano. Its last eruption dates back to 1914; now the situation is quite stable and quiet and it is difficult to imagine the abundant lava flows that continued to erupt until 1921.
This park also offers immense forests , sulfur reserves and crystal clear lakes. Among the most interesting water basins is Lake Manzanita , one of the most photographed in Lassen, where it is possible to camp, kayak and swim.
An unmissable excursion is the one at the falls, the Mill Creek Falls , 23 meters high. Not least is the King Fall , slightly lower but similarly spectacular.