April 20th is the kick-off of National Park Week. In the US, there are more than 400 parks available to everyone, every day. Some charge admission, some don’t. But, on Saturday, April 20, 2019, every National Park offers fee-free day, where all entrance fees are waived. Explore the history, culture and beauty found in our National Parks. Here’s a look at five National Parks located in California – definitely worth the visit.
San Francisco, CA
Perhaps one of the best-known San Francisco landmarks, Alcatraz Island sits right in the middle of San Francisco Bay. The infamous federal penitentiary was long off limits to the public, but now more than one million people visit annually to listen to stories about the jail’s history. Part of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, its less-know spectacular sights include gardens, tide pools, bird colonies and perhaps the best bay views available. While admission will be free on April 20th, you’ll still need to pay for that boat ride to The Rock.
San Diego, CA
Explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo led the first European expedition to what is now the west coast of the United States, and Cabrillo National Monument stands in his honor. Old Point Loma Lighthouse is one of the main draws for visitors. What’s more, a scenic two-mile trail takes you through the endangered coastal sage scrub habitat. During the winter months, it’s one of the best spots for whale watching or tide pooling but stand warned! Cabrillo Sea Cave is located within a closed area of the park. Due to extremely dangerous conditions and in compliance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act, no entry is allowed at any time.
Death Valley, CA & NV
Death Valley is the largest US National Park outside Alaska, encompassing 3.4 million acres. Nearly 1,000 miles of paved and dirt roads provide access to wild country, low valley floors crusted with barren salt flats, rugged mountains rising over 11,000 feet – the diversity is the draw. Deep and winding canyons will lead to rolling sand dunes or spring-fed oases. And, Mosaic Canyon is a must hike.
Twentynine Palms, CA
Two distinct desert ecosystems, the Mojave and the Colorado, come together in Joshua Tree National Park. Nature walks, backpacking trips, stargazing, photography, wildflower viewing – this park represents diverse nature at its finest. Ranger-led programs and special events take place on a regular basis. And, to fully enjoy your excursion, sleep under the stars at one of Joshua Tree’s nine developed campgrounds.
An hour east of Monterey is Pinnacles National Park. More than 23 million years ago, multiple volcanoes erupted and formed what would become Pinnacles National Park. This unique landscape lets travelers journey through chaparral, oak woodlands, and canyon bottoms. Hikers enter rare talus caves and emerge to towering rock spires teaming with wildlife. It’s one of the best places to view the awe-inspiring California condor, peregrine falcons and golden eagles.
For those of you who love nature, enjoy the great outdoors and long to spend time with the family unplugged, a visit to any of America’s National Parks is great. Pack a picnic lunch, put on comfy hiking boots and spend time in nature. Fee-free admission days happen only several times each year, so start making plans for April 20th. To help you plan your day, visit the National Park Service’s Website. All the information you’ll need on things to do, places to see and resources available can be found here. You can search by state, see upcoming events by Park and get trip ideas.
Which National Park have you been longing to visit?