The Golden State is a virtual cornucopia of natural wonders. From top to bottom, investigate its incredibly beautiful coastline to the deep woodlands and deserts found here too. Stay at hundreds of fantastic California RV Camping Resorts across the way and you’ll enjoy the best California has to offer in California Camping.
Sure, California’s fantastic coastlines and towering redwoods of the northern area of the state receive all of the attention, but in southern California, deserts dominate the landscape. Northeast of Los Angeles, the Mojave Desert encompasses more than 15,000 square miles. Although not every part of the Mojave is ideal for a leisurely picnic lunch (think hot), this”high” desert comprises several mountain ranges and is located well above sea level. These two factors are what give the Mojave its own unique ecosystem, allowing for a variety of wild inhabitants. Native birds such as the roadrunner and cactus wren often share space with exotic migratory birds like vireos and flycatchers. Coyotes and kit foxes prowl the desert mountains, as do more docile creatures like bighorn sheep and wild boars. Like most deserts, the Mojave is vulnerable to extreme weather. Bone-chilling during winter nights and sizzling during the hot summer months, the Mojave can also offer up a very enjoyable trip during the spring and autumn months.
In the southern end of the region, right before the Mojave Desert becomes the Sonoran Desert, is located Joshua Tree National Park. This 734,000-acre desert refuge is home to some of the nation’s most unusual and photogenic plants. The Joshua tree is the largest of the yucca plants and has flourished in this region of the country. Some two dozen kinds of bird regularly make the Joshua tree house and the tree has an intricate part in the ecology of the desert wildlife. The park itself provides a 40-mile driving tour where one can meander through the gentle desert landscape and find loads of photo opportunities.
North, back across the Mojave Desert, lies Death Valley National Park. But don’t let the name scare you off – the place isn’t out for you. In actuality, Death Valley is the most visited desert park in the country. Although this 2.3 million-acre park certainly delivers its share of forbidding landscape and uninviting weather, these extreme conditions also create some of the most beautiful and dramatic scenery in the entire American West. The valley’s floor, which is located nearly 300 feet below sea level, eventually gives way to dazzling painted hills and 10,000-foot snow-capped peaks. Due to the enormity of this park, driving is essential and lots of the park’s attraction are spread out. But after a destination is picked and the rig is parked, Death Valley offers hundreds of miles of hiking trails that you soak up the dramatic scenery. Make Sure You visit Telescope Peak in the park’s Emigrant Canyon. This summit is the park’s highest, reaching over 11,000 feet and offering some fantastic views.
As you head north and out of California’s southern desert region, the Sierra Nevadas beckon visitors with its large selection of activities and natural beauty. This 430-mile stretch of granite cliffs and snowy peaks delight people with many parks and attractions, including eight national forests, three national parks, and 14 wilderness areas. Any trip to the Sierra’s would not be complete without visiting at least one of the region’s other national parks: the Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and of course, Yosemite.
The 402,000-acre Sequoia National Park is the nation’s second oldest park after Yellowstone. Driving through Sequoia National Park is an experience in itself. Follow Mineral King Road as it follows the Kaweah River for 25 miles before reaching the scenic Mineral King portion. General Highway is another winding drive which will bring you to a stand of trees in which four of the five world’s tallest could be found. Offer a salute to the lofty hardwood. North of Kings Canyon is located California’s most famous national park, Yosemite. Crowds can be, well, annoying, so select your season well (spring and fall are best). Yosemite’s vastness and many isolated areas make this an extremely pleasant visit and a must for the RVer cruising through California.
For even more dramatic scenery head east of Yosemite only a few miles until you get to Mono Lake. One of the oldest lakes in the usa, Mono Lake brings all kinds of wildlife into the area, such as unusual sea birds who come seeking food sources that inhabit the lake’s salty water. But the truly significant element of Mono Lake is the calcium-carbonate rock formations located on the lake’s shoreline, porous spires rising from the salty water, standing like eerie sentinels protecting the coastline.
From here, choose one of many paths north, all of which are quite scenic, until you reach the Sierra foothills and the Lake Tahoe area. Set along the California-Nevada border, Lake Tahoe has become an immensely popular holiday area, especially for skiers. Lake Tahoe rewards its visitors with fantastic scenery, relaxing hikes, and plenty of other outdoor activities year-round. It’s easy to escape the developed shores of Lake Tahoe. The western side of the lake provides two state parks, Emerald Bay and D.L. Bliss, each with miles of linking hiking trails and memorable surroundings. The lake is a miracle also. At over 6,000 feet in elevation, this mountain lake is among the highest in the world. And its crystal-clear, frigid water beckons the hardiest of souls to take a dip.
Northern California remains one of America’s most popular and beautiful regions. Yes, there’s more here than San Francisco, although that’s a excellent place to start things off. While having only a portion of the populace of southern California, the northern areas offer the most diverse and remarkable landscape in the American West.
The Lava Beds National Monument is 47,000 acres of hardened molten lava, which makes for interesting landscape. To go to the Lava Beds National Monument is really a special adventure. The region was once a hotbed (literally!) Today, the flows have subsided, but in their wake, a blessing of nearly 200 caves and grottoes, many of which are available for exploration. Whether you’re an experienced spelunker, just starting out, or just curious about this underground world, Lava Beds National Monument is entertaining, nonetheless.
For birders, a must-stop is the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge and the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge. While these two adjacent parks, situated just north of the Lava Beds, play host to a wide selection of permanent and migratory birds, the region is famous for its migratory bald eagle population, generally considered the country’s largest. Don’t forget the binoculars.
Directly west of these wildlife refuges, along the California coast, clustered together are several redwood areas that make for wonderful stops. While Redwood National Park anchors the area, the coastal drive is also lined with different areas featuring northern California’s star attraction, the mighty redwood.
to breathtaking coastlines.
Continuing along the California coast, about an hour north of San Francisco, lies the Point Reyes National Seashore, a majestic peninsula that juts out into the Pacific Ocean. Scientists believe the delicate sediment found here will one day disconnect itself from the California mainland. Here’s a hint: Try not to be there when it does. But before that day, the area is easily accessible and offers excellent rewards for wildlife enthusiasts. Nearly 500 kinds of birds call Point Reyes home, or at least during their migratory travels. Dozens of mammals, including many marine types, can readily be found here as well.
If you do nothing else, ensure you travel Highway 1, one of the most scenic drives in the whole world. Here, the journey is as good as the destination, although Big Sur won’t disappoint. This region has inspired generations with its tantalizing views and dazzling sunsets. Because of the many RV parks and campgrounds that compose the region, Big Sur easily affords days of leisurely outdoor activities.
Just in case you want to get out of the RV for a day trip, leave your rig behind in Ventura (wave to the Woodall’s office) or Santa Barbara and take a chartered boat to explore the Channel Islands. Sea lions frolic across the islands’ beaches. Whales cruise for meals just offshore. A myriad of shorebirds roost about the islands’ high ground. Santa Cruz Island is the largest and ecologically diverse of all of the Channel Islands.