Camping and Exploring the California National Parks

Published on October 21, 2020

Scenic California

With its tall trees, waterfalls and beautiful scenery, California national parks are the perfect destination for all types of campers. From Yosemite National Park to Lake Tahoe, you can relax off the beaten track in a California National Park. For example, Pinnacles National Park, known for its condor towers, is located just east of San Francisco in Northern California. It’s easy to get to and beautiful to be in. This national park is a rival to Yosemite in terms of beauty. However, it also offers many opportunities for hiking, biking, horseback riding, camping, fishing, hiking and much more. This is just an example of more parks to come.

National Parks in California

California Horseback Riders at Dawn

This year, several campsites in park system will be opened on an open-to-serve basis. This means that they will be booking the sites on a coming first, served first basis. Thinking of a vacation? A National Park is a perfect winter destination! Many have campsites for those who are so not really into roughing it but would rather have a lodge or cabin to enjoy the cold nights. The coupled with indoor plumbing could really make your stay fun!

Make sure you reserve your favorite campsite or cabin early for holiday weekends and see if you can book quickly. I would recommend adding at least three additional days to your itinerary if you plan to include 2 or more parks in your list. This will allow you more time to relax and really enjoy the views and relaxation that the parks offer.

Yosemite National Park

To me when I think of a national park, I think of Yosemite. Yosemite National Park is jointly operated by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the National Park Service (NPS). Spend a day at Yosemite Pinnacles Campground in Yosemite National Park or drive to Bakersfield and camp at one of the campgrounds for a few days. The best time to camp in Yosemite is from October to April. As a result of staying during these times, you’ll be sure to see some beautiful colors and amazing weather. Again, it’s a first come first served basis so if you want an exact spot, you’ll want to book it in advance. Yosemite National Park allows a maximum of 3 days of camping in the park for $50 per person or $100 per day for two people.

Death Valley National Park

With an area of 3.4 million hectares (wow), Death Valley National Park is California’s largest national park. You should have no problem finding accommodation on site. You can choose from seasonal campsites, inns and motels, but you can also camp for a day or two at one of the many campsites in the park. This is usually very high on the list of must visits for many and it offers unparalleled vistas.

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park

A Large Sequoia Tree

Want some close encounters with humongous trees? Kings Canyon National Park is located in the middle of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in California, which is just outside Los Angeles. Talk about easy access! The two parks are currently managed together as Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, but they are separate parks with their own campsites and amenities.

Kings Canyon

Like neighboring Sequoia National Park, Kings Canyon admission is just $35 per vehicle, and like Yosemite National Park, it is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Joshua Tree is also a very popular national park, so reservations for campsites will quickly fill up.  Climbers and hikers often visit Joshua Tree in the winter, when national parks like Yosemite make outdoor adventure more difficult.

What should you do?

With so many national parks to choose from, you cannot make a bad choice. If anything it will be a difficult decision as to which park to go to first if you have to pick. Whatever outdoor activity you enjoy, there is a California National Park that will fit the bill.


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