The National Parks of California

There are 28 National Parks in California. The government has protected these areas by giving them such status, but they have also created a way that the general public can go and appreciate some of the most wonderful surroundings on the planet. These National Parks vary in terms of the size they cover and what activities they have on offer. They do however cover the whole of the State geographically, so it is possible to go and visit the region’s most natural and beautiful areas.

The huge trees in Redwood National Park

In the far North West of the state lies Redwood National Park which works alongside three state parks, the Jedediah Smith, Del Norte Coast and Prairie Creek Redwoods Statute Park. The area is dominated by the tallest trees in the world the redwoods, which grow to over 100 metres in height.

Intermingled with the giant trees are grassland prairies where wild elk graze. The Park has a beautiful coastline with the forest stretching down to the shore line.  The beaches are un-spoilt with rivers cascading down into the sea. There are campsites within the park and there are trails maintained so hikers can travel around by foot. At the opposite end of the State is the Joshua Tree National Park with no other park lying further south. The park covers a vast area of 3200 square kilometres and includes the Colorado Desert and the Mojave Desert.

The park is named after the Joshua tree which is found in great numbers in the uplands of the Mojave Desert. Below 3000 feet the Colorado Desert takes over and the Joshua tree does not appear there. The park gives spectacular views of the region and gives visitors an idea of how tough it was for the first settlers to survive in such a barren environment. There are 9 campsites in the park and there a number of activities visitors can do. They include rock climbing, hiking, stargazing and looking at the wildlife.

One of the most unusual parks is Alcatraz Island Park located in San Francisco Bay. A visit gives people the opportunity to explore the old fort, the wild life of the island, the lighthouse and of course the famous prison.

Alcatraz prison in the centre of the bay

Operating as a prison between 1934 until 1963 it held some of the nation’s most violent criminals including Al Capone and George “machine gun” Kelly. It was claimed that despite some valiant efforts no man successfully escaped. There were 14 attempted break outs with 23 men being caught, six were shot and two were found drowned. There were five others who went missing, presumed to be drowned as the swift cold currents of the water made the 1.25-mile swim back to the main land virtually impossible.

Possibly the most spectacular of all of the National Parks is the Yosemite National Park. Situated on the eastern side of the state the park covers 3,000 square kilometres and attracts 4 million visitors each year. It is located in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range and is famed for its spectacular granite cliffs, waterfalls, lakes, glaciers, clear streams and its biological diversity. With the park climbing from 2000 feet to 13000 feet in height it has 5 separate vegetation zones. This has produced a wide variety of species with 3,500 different plants being found in the park. It is also the home to many animals including the black bear, the coyote and the river otter.

There are many activities in the area with the Badger Pass Ski Area being the oldest ski area in California. Climbing is very popular in the region as well as cycling and hiking. There is accommodation available in the park, but a lot of visitors take advantage of the well-organized road network and just visit for the day.

California possesses some magical environments, and it is currently doing its best to manage them in a manner that will keep them protected, but also give the general public the opportunity to enjoy the magnificent wilderness.