The Travel Squad is taking you to all nine of California’s amazing national parks! Each park offers something so different – the hottest place in the world, the tallest trees in the world, the largest trees by volume in the world, islands, forests, deserts, and so much more! It’s hard to say which are the best national parks in California because they are all so amazing! You’ll want to add this list of national parks in California to your upcoming travel itineraries!
National parks in California list:
- Redwoods National Park
- Lassen Volcanic National Park
- Yosemite National Park
- Kings Canyon National Park
- Sequoia National Park
- Pinnacles National Park
- Channel Islands National Park
- Death Valley National Park
- Joshua Tree National Park
The Ultimate National Parks in California List – Episode Transcript
Welcome to this week’s episode of the Travel Squad podcast. Today, we’re taking you on a tour through California’s nine beautiful national parks.
1 (1m 6s):
California’s national parks are true gems. They house the tallest trees in the world, the largest trees in the world, spectacular granite cliffs, any ton of scenic beauty, I’ve been to the mall. And some of them I’ve been to more than once. And I have plans to continue to go back and actually go to some of them.
3 (1m 24s):
Yes. And as a matter of fact, California has the most National parks out of any state. The one X behind is going to be Alaska. Alaska is like three, four times bigger. And guess what? California has more best date. Best coast, California got a rabbit real hard right here and us at the squad. We love, love, love, love national parks. And we are so fortunate that California is home to the most, and that we’ve had the chance, at least Brittany and I to experience them all. I know Kim hasn’t yet, but we want to take the time in this episode to let you guys know about all nine and each one and their uniqueness. And what’s so great about it.
2 (1m 60s):
Yeah, I haven’t been to all of them yet, but I really want to go to Redwoods National Park.
1 (2m 5s):
Beautiful, beautiful national park.
2 (2m 7s):
All right. So let’s kick it off with some tips for visiting California’s national parks. I would say you’ll probably want to plan multiple trips to see them all because these nine really do span the entire length of the state. It’s a huge state. It probably takes, you know, 12 to 16, maybe even more than that hours to drive the whole thing. So it’d be a very long trip. You could do it in one trip, one epic California road trip vacation, but you could also make several trips out of it.
1 (2m 36s):
You know, my favorite tip of course, is to download the offline maps. A lot of these national parts are in remote places when you’ll be going through remote terrain. So you’re going to want the offline map. So you don’t get lost when navigating
3 (2m 48s):
Yes in California is always known for it’s year round beauty. And it’s no exception for the national parks, but do your research, some national parks are either or certain sections closed in the winter because of snow or certain paths into the park are closed because of winter. For example, like in Yosemite, Tioga pass is closed during the winter season. So if you’re going to make like a route and do stuff, you got to know that you can’t exit this way to get more conveniently to say, for example, Joshua Tree or Death Valley on that side. Right. So definitely pay attention to what’s going on based on the season when you go. And I will say this, I know I’m talking about winter. Some parks are just better in one or two for that matter.
2 (3m 29s):
Yes. Yeah. There’s one on here in particular that I would recommend winter over summer.
1 (3m 34s):
So we’re going to go ahead and take you through this tour of California’s nine National parks, and we’re going to start from north to south. And first national park we’re going to dive into is Redwoods National Park and Kim, I don’t think you have been to Redwoods National Park. You were just saying you wanted to go there.
2 (3m 50s):
Do the, the super, super tall trees. I love forest did National parks over like deserty one. So Redwoods is high on my list. We were actually trying to plan a trip with our friend Robin for may or March, but it didn’t quite work out. And this is where we were kind of planning on going. So maybe soon I’ll get my chance.
1 (4m 8s):
Yes. And Redwoods is located in Northern California, along the coast. And of course it’s home to the Redwood trees, but the park also protects Prairie’s Oak Woodlands, wild rivers, and 40 miles of beautiful rugged coastline.
3 (4m 24s):
Yeah. So like Brittany said, Redwoods National Park. Isn’t Northern California along the coast, along famous 1 0 1. We always talk about California one, but there is also the 1 0 1 and that is a very iconic drive too. And so it just passes right through here. And you’re not too far from the Oregon border as a matter of fact, but what makes Redwoods National parks so unique and we talked about earlier is this is the location of the tallest trees in the world. We’re talking 300 plus tall trees. And the tallest tree in the world is located here. It’s named Hyperion 380 feet tall and they keep that location secret. So maybe you’ll stumble across it. Not really know, but they like to keep that portion isolated, but rest assured, you’re going to see hundreds of trees, 300 plus feet tall here.
1 (5m 10s):
And Jamal said that, you know, the highway goes through this national park and because it’s a major highway, they actually don’t charge a park entrance fee.
2 (5m 18s):
Ooh. A free national park. Yes.
1 (5m 23s):
And so there is another trail that we did. It’s called the Carl nap trail and there’s a tree called the big tree on this trail. And it’s estimated to be 1,500 years old. It’s like 286 feet tall. And it spans 23.7 feet across like, I know Jamal Knight took a picture in front of it and we both put our arm spans out and the tree was still like larger than what we had. Oh
2 (5m 47s):
1 (5m 48s):
Yes. It was huge, huge
2 (5m 51s):
At this national park. Is it mostly just trails to see trees or is there any like a moderate or extreme hiking?
1 (5m 59s):
You know, I didn’t really come across any extreme hiking when we went, but we went with Jamal sisters. And so we were also on a little road trip to Oregon. So I didn’t dive too deep into it, but there are a whole bunch of different sections of the park. And so there are some remote sections and I think those are the longer backpacking trails that you can get to
3 (6m 19s):
The stuff that it’s more closer to the highway. I don’t want to say it’s flat. I mean your coastal kind of mountainous, but not really too mountainous, but I wouldn’t say they are very strenuous, but very beautiful forested area for the tall trees. Mostly
2 (6m 31s):
3 (6m 31s):
2 (6m 32s):
So it’s oh, a walk in the park and it’s a free park. That’s amazing.
1 (6m 39s):
I really, really want to go back and do a trail called the James Irvine trail to Fern canyon. It’s like a 12 mile trail, but you start in a Redwood forest, then you go to the coast and then you see some dripping walls and streams of cobbles a Fern canyon. And then you end up on the beach. So I would really love to do that.
2 (6m 58s):
Is that part of the park? I
1 (6m 59s):
Think it is.
2 (6m 60s):
Yeah. Okay. Then I think I have been to this park because I was visiting a friend in Arcata. So Humboldt county, that’s where this is right. Humble county ish area.
3 (7m 11s):
2 (7m 11s):
We did Fern canyon and it was this really cool canyon, tons of ferns everywhere. There were big trees that had fallen over that you had to climb on top of to get across. So I may be went to this park and didn’t even know it.
1 (7m 24s):
Yeah. Because the Redwoods National Park is also incorporated with the state park. And so I think all of that is in that area.
2 (7m 31s):
Okay. Look at that. I’ve already been here. I got to mark it off on my map.
3 (7m 35s):
We got to do a squad trip up there. All of us. We’ll do that one again. Cause Brittany wants to do it and take you to the other portions of the park then Kelly. Yeah. So moving on from Redwoods National Park and number two Lassen, Volcanic National Park still in Northern California.
2 (7m 50s):
I haven’t been here. So tell me, does it actually look like a volcano?
1 (7m 54s):
So there’s a lot of volcanic activity within the park. I wouldn’t say it looks necessarily like a volcano. I think volcanoes national park in Hawaii outlines that a little bit more, but it’s a very rich hydrothermal site and it has bubbling mud pots. And we actually did hike the summit of Mount Lassen. We went to blast and peak and it gives really amazing views of the surrounding wilderness.
3 (8m 20s):
Yeah. So the, I mean, that’s the really, the only theme you’re going to have with the volcanics is the geothermal activity. Lassen peak itself just looks like any other mountain when you’re looking at it. However, when you do do the hike, which we have done, then you’re at the top of it. And when you’re at the top of it, it looks like it. But from the view down below, if you’re not, it just looks like any other hill, but there’s the boiling mud pots. You can smell the geothermal activity in the area of the a yeah. Yeah. So it has a lot to offer. And Britney and I have been several times, but this is one of those National parks that during certain of the year major portions are closed because of snow. This is on the north end of the Sierra Nevada mountains, but not in the Sierra.
3 (9m 2s):
Nevada is I think it’s part of the Southern portion of what the cascade mountains, correct?
1 (9m 6s):
I think so like Lassen peak, you can’t even access the road until may or June because of the snow. So you hike it late in the season. And one other thing to know is when you get to the top of last and peak, the elevation’s over 10,000 feet and so hiking up this you’ll feel out of breath. You’ll feel that altitude. Definitely. Like I remember going up a portion. I was like, why am I so out of breath? And then I saw the sign that we were at like 9,000 something feet. And I was like, okay, that makes me feel a little bit better.
3 (9m 35s):
And a little bit north of Lassen, Volcanic National Park is another famous mountain in California at Mount Shasta. That is a volcano. And if you go a little bit more north than that looks more like a volcano than Lassen. And you can tell it from that point,
1 (9m 49s):
But there’s national park. Even if you don’t go hiking in it, there’s a lot to see. There’s a lot of beautiful crystalline lakes, mountains, flower fields, Meadows. And there’s a lot of viewpoints as well. So it’s a national park. You can enjoy, even if you’re not doing a lot of hiking, we took Jamal’s parents and they’re not very active. And they had a really good time.
3 (10m 9s):
Yeah. We drove through and they have on the drive so many little stop points where you can see those geothermal pools and mud boiling pots and the beautiful views. So definitely, you know, I know we’ve had an episode on no hike, national parks. This may be, could have even been on there.
2 (10m 24s):
We’ll have to do a part two because Redwoods as well. Yeah,
3 (10m 27s):
2 (10m 28s):
And then you guys have been to a place called Burney falls.
1 (10m 32s):
2 (10m 33s):
I saw your pictures of it. And I was just like shooting myself thinking why didn’t I ever go here when I lived in Sacramento? Because it looks so cool.
1 (10m 41s):
Yeah. It was a really awesome waterfall. It’s only 45 minutes north of Lassen, Volcanic National Park. And Jamal’s mom really, really enjoyed it. The water’s just cascading down these rocks, making it super beautiful and there’s little trails around the area. Even if you want to just go and look at the viewpoint and look down at it, you’re going to be like, oh my God, this is one of the most gorgeous waterfalls in California.
3 (11m 3s):
Yeah. So the McBurney falls is not within the national park, but it’s so close that you could almost do it too for, and it’s very beautiful scenic, iconic California in that region. So I would highly recommend doing that if you had the time and getting that tube for in, mm.
2 (11m 19s):
Number three on our list is a national park that I have been to. And it’s very famous and that is Yosemite National Park.
1 (11m 26s):
3 (11m 27s):
I mean, this might be the crown jewel of California’s national parks, to be honest. And Brittany and I have been several times, we have trips to go again because there’s just so much to do here. The views never get old, but so many hikes galore that we just want to accomplish on this one.
1 (11m 42s):
What mountain ranges it in Jamal?
3 (11m 44s):
It is in the beautiful Sierra Nevada mountain range, the most iconic mountain rage. I dare say in the world. That that is my biased opinion as a California. As a matter of fact, as we work our way through this list, we’re going to come across to other national parks that are in the Sierra Nevada’s. There should have been a fourth lake Tahoe, believe it or not was supposed to be named a national park. They never did it for reasons which we won’t get into, but that’s how beautiful this year ranges there could have been four National parks and there’s three Yosemite. First one, we’re talking about number one,
2 (12m 15s):
There are some pretty famous trails here. I know in the past, we’ve talked about doing half dome. That’s a permitted trail that you have to climb up chains for. And I’ve kind of reconsidered that goal of mine. And I don’t think I will be doing it, but a lot of people do it. And there’s some pretty epic videos out there on YouTube. You should check it out just to like really see how crazy this hike is.
1 (12m 38s):
Yeah. You know, have so many, has so much to offer. It has the giant Sequoia trees, the amazing, beautiful granite cliffs, and also a lot of amazing waterfalls. And so, although Kim, isn’t going to do half dome Jamal, and I do have that goal, but there is a trail called the miss trail and it takes you up to Vernal falls. And then you can continue to Nevada falls and right near Nevada falls is actually where the trail continues to go to half dome. If you had those permits, if you don’t, you can still basically climb and hike some of the half dome trail. And you just don’t go up to the halftone cable portion. You just continue down on the mistrial.
3 (13m 17s):
Yeah. So we’ve done the first two thirds. We haven’t done the completion, but rest assured one of these days, we are going to get our permits for half dill. Now half dome is the iconic image of Yosemite. If you Google Yosemite, I guarantee you you’re going to see that big granite face that looks like a dome, like a half circle. And so that is what you are hiking the backside of when you do the half dome hike. But like Brittany said so many iconic spots, Yosemite falls, number one, El copy, Tom as another one for you. And so just so many things I can’t reiterate enough, how much Yosemite is the crown jewel of the National parks in California and Kim you’ve had a bear sighting here, Brittany and I have had a bear sighting here.
3 (14m 1s):
You’re going to see wildlife galore in this park.
2 (14m 4s):
Yeah. And it was actually on that miss trail that I saw the bear just simply walking. There were people who were taking a picture of something off the trail. It was looking at it, trying to see what it was. And I couldn’t see kept walking. Boom. The bear runs from one side of the trail to the other right behind me.
3 (14m 20s):
And you went in April, right?
2 (14m 21s):
I went in March
3 (14m 22s):
And March. Okay. So it was early probably, maybe out of hibernation or just kind of change the season, getting real active. That’s exciting.
2 (14m 29s):
It was scary, but he was just digging for berries out of a log.
3 (14m 32s):
Very nice. And this is where I was talking about earlier here, you know, Yosemite, they have that Tioga pass. This will take you from within Yosemite, from the Western side of the Sierra, Nevada to the Eastern side and out kind of into the desert area, but closed during the winter because there is usually a lot of snowpack.
1 (14m 52s):
If you’re going to Yosemite specifically for the waterfalls, the waterfalls are going to be the best in the spring or early summer season. The waterfalls are going to die out a bit in late summer and fall suggest, keep that in mind. Jamal and I are actually headed to actually hike Yosemite falls, which is north America’s tallest waterfall next weekend.
3 (15m 12s):
So by the time this episode airs, we’ve already done it. Yes.
2 (15m 15s):
We always say download offline maps. And you definitely need that in Yosemite. There is no cell phone service in this park, in the main area where they do have like a bunch of food and shopping stuff. You can get some service there, but nowhere else, I even stayed in a hotel called the Cedar lodge and it’s just outside the park. Maybe, I don’t know, a 10 minute, 15 minute drive outside the park, no cell phone service there.
1 (15m 39s):
You know, what’s so funny is that was one of the places that popped up when we were looking to book, but we didn’t stay there. Cause you had to buy the Y you
2 (15m 46s):
Have to buy the wifi.
1 (15m 48s):
Yeah. I was like past
2 (15m 49s):
And there was like no restaurants around there. They did have one like bar restaurant with bar food that we ended up eating at. But there was nothing. This was before COVID.
3 (15m 59s):
Oh yeah. I would say the largest city that’s close that would have stuff is going to be Mariposa anywhere else. Close to Yosemite. That’s not an Mariposa is going to have that same problem. You’re talking about no cell service, isolated from food and things like that. As you’re getting more into the park and the wild area,
1 (16m 17s):
Hey travelers, let’s take a quick detour to talk all about our Travel Itineraries that we’ve created just for you. We now have six different trip itineraries one week in Kauai and
2 (16m 27s):
American Southwest weekend or road trip
3 (16m 30s):
A week in Yellowstone and grand Teton, national parks,
1 (16m 33s):
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3 (16m 38s):
Big island, Hawaii, and an Arizona road trip that features all three of Arizona’s national parks.
2 (16m 44s):
We are obsessed with these. These itineraries are 20 to 30 page PDF guides with every detail of the trip laid out. We’re talking where to fly into the exact route to take where to stay park entrance prices, where to eat and driving distance between attractions plus what things to see and do even the hikes we recommend and their mileage and the time to allow for each one and so much more.
1 (17m 5s):
We have story highlights on our Instagram at Travel Squad Podcast, where you can see the full guides. We’ve done all of the research and have taken these exact trips, taking out all of the guesswork from the planning. So all that you have to do is show up and have fun
3 (17m 19s):
And purchase your comprehensive Travel Squad Podcast, itinerary on our website at Travel Squad, Podcast dot com, best of all, they’re on sale right now for $30. So travel on over and get yours today. So moving on to number four, we’re going further south, but still staying in the beautiful Sierra Nevada mountain range. Number four, Kings Canyon National Park.
1 (17m 41s):
So Kings Canyon actually touches Sequoia National Park. And this national park is really known for its huge Sequoia trees. Notably the general tree in grant Grove. We saw that as a squad on Easter one year before we got lost on a 16 mile hike.
3 (17m 58s):
Now general grant is the second largest tree in the world. So if you remember, when we were talking about Redwoods at number one, they are the tallest trees. The largest trees are here in Kings Canyon and Sequoia, which we’re going to get to next. And when we say largest versus tallest, we’re talking by volume. I mean, these trees are still hundreds of feet tall, just not as tall as the other Redwoods, but these ones have more girth to them. Ladies.
2 (18m 24s):
A lot of girth,
3 (18m 25s):
Lots of girth Brittany was talking about, oh, we spread our hands at barely did anything. It’s nothing compared to the girth on these ones
2 (18m 31s):
Look like a tiny ant against that tree. Hmm.
1 (18m 34s):
You know, when we went out as a squad, we really stayed in the forested area. We really didn’t see Kings Canyon. And so Jamal might have actually gone back and we went farther into the canyon and we did a hike called the missed falls trail. It’s a nine mile hike, but it’s actually not very high in elevation gain, but it really highlights the granite canyon walls in the falls or at the end. And it’s a really, really nice, beautiful scenic. And I would recommend that to really get a feel for Kings Canyon.
3 (19m 4s):
I know the first time we went there as a squad and Kim took us on that four mile hike that turned into a 16 mile hike where we got lost. I thought to myself, where’s the canyon. We didn’t even see it. We were in the forest and you got to go to the back country to see the canyon. And it gives you a whole different perspective of the park. And it’s really nice. And I would recommend for sure, like Brittany said that missed falls trail.
2 (19m 24s):
Okay. That makes more sense because I have only gone once that time we went and I thought it looks exactly like Sequoia National Park and they’re touching each other. So why have it be too right. But the canyon, I guess, is what makes it unique that, yeah. Okay. I need to go back and see the canyon then. Yeah.
1 (19m 41s):
When we rebook the trip, I was like, I actually have to see Kings Canyon. I feel like I didn’t see it the first time and we really did. And so the farther back you go, you see more of those great granite cliffs and you’ll feel like, okay, now I know why this is named this national park.
3 (19m 55s):
And a couple of pieces of information for you. General grant is actually named America’s Christmas tree. So every year around Christmas, I think I forgot which president it was, but he deemed it as such. And it’s just kind of kept that title ever since. And if you want more information specifically about Kings Canyon, National Park, hearing that story on how we got lost on that 16 mile hike, it’s a good one and of Sequoia, which we’re getting to next, go back and listen to one of our OJI G episodes, episode number five, still one of my favorites talking about our trip as a squad to Kings Canyon and Sequoia. It
2 (20m 27s):
Is funny in squad tip, do not eat the pizza in the visitor center. You will regret it.
3 (20m 37s):
You know, some national parks have good food that we’ve come across, especially the larger ones that have like cafeterias and things. But I mean, we were famished because we ate that pizza on Easter after being lost on that 16 mile hike. I swear we only had like a banana and like a stale bagel to hold us over. Cause it wasn’t supposed to be that long. We all took our first bite and looked at each other and you know, when you’re hungry, you could power and eat through anything. Cause you’re just like, fuck, I’m hungry. Like we didn’t even want to eat the pizza. That’s how bad it was. That’s how bad it was.
1 (21m 9s):
But that leads us right into number five on our list. Sequoia National Park. This park is known for its giant Sequoia trees. That’s why it’s named that. And it has general Sherman tree. This is the largest tree on earth by volume.
3 (21m 24s):
Yes. So Sequoia has number one, general Sherman Kings Canyon has number two general grant. Like we said earlier, they touch so on the highway, you can drive from one park to the next. So it’s a twofer. You got to do them both. And I know we were hyping up Yosemite and it deserves very much to be hyped up, but I’m going to go ahead and say, this Sequoia is my favorite national park in California.
2 (21m 47s):
Me too. I agree with that. I loved it. I thought it was so beautiful. I love the trees, the forest. It was like green and orange and it was great.
3 (21m 56s):
It feels so small when you’re in here, like the redwoods are tall and it’s crazy. But when you just really see, and you know, obviously we were making innuendo jokes earlier, but I’m going to say it again. Like when you just really see the girth and how wide these tree trunks are, like, you can’t even really believe it. It’s ridiculous. Like really ridiculous. And you really humbled when you are in there. And these trees are estimated, you know, at least general Sherman, at least in a lot of the large trees in the groves are estimated to be between 2,300 to 2,700 years old
1 (22m 27s):
General Sherman is huge. He’s 275 feet tall. He’s still growing. And he lives in the giant forest, which contains five of the 10 largest trees in the world.
2 (22m 38s):
Yeah. It’s funny the walkway to go up and see it where the sign is and everyone takes pictures. It’s in the middle, but all around are equally as large trees that are just as good to take pictures with. You can’t really even tell this is the biggest one. They’re all huge.
3 (22m 52s):
Yeah. And that’s what you want to do. Like one year seen general Sherman go ahead and do the Congress trail. It takes you on a beautiful path, not very steep incline or anything like that. And it’s very well paved, but it takes you amongst all those very large trees that we’re talking about. And it just gives you an awesome sense of perspective. And in this area, we also saw another bear. It wasn’t when we were on the hike, but the main road was there. And do you remember? We saw it crossing the road also. So wildlife galore here in this park, just as well.
1 (23m 20s):
Another highlight of Sequoia National Park is Morro rock Mora rock is a giant granite dome and has a concrete stone stairway with 350 steps to the top has really awesome panoramic views of the foothills San Joaquin valley. And just the overall wilderness.
2 (23m 39s):
That time we went as a squad back in April, this trail was closed because of weather.
3 (23m 45s):
They still had too much snow on
1 (23m 47s):
Ice and it’s steep. So like if it was icy, you would definitely fall into hurt yourself.
3 (23m 52s):
They have areas where it’s steep along the edge, where they have the rail, but I see why it’s closed. Like even if there’s not too much snow, it could still have that like ice sheet. And if you slipped and fell, you could slip and fall off the sheer edge of the granite cliff. So definitely closed for safety, moral rock, but it does give you good views down into the valley, like Brittany said, but you don’t really get the sense of the trees in this area, but you get a nice panoramic view.
1 (24m 18s):
And Sequoia has a tunnel log, which is one of the huge giant Sequoia trees that have fallen down and it was too large to move. So they’ve carved a tunnel through it and you can drive through it.
3 (24m 28s):
That’s really unique if you Google, you’ll see lots of cars doing the drive-through on that. And some very iconic shot.
2 (24m 34s):
There was another log that we could walk through. It was the same kind of idea. We got a lot of cute pictures there.
3 (24m 40s):
Why not? I mean, the trees are just impressive. I mean, they really, really are. And I do love Sequoia and I want to go to Sequoia at first snowfall, whether it be like October, November when it comes and just have that kind of layer and the giant forest. I mean, I know when we went in April, there was still snow and everything like that, but I want it kind of when it has the overcast newness and it just came down fresh. I think that would be cool. Cause I see photos of that online. I’ve never experienced it and I want to so bad. I think it would be just majestic.
1 (25m 11s):
Did you know that there’s caves in Sequoia National Park? No crystal caves. I really want to go back and do
2 (25m 16s):
That. Oh, oh,
1 (25m 17s):
That’s what it’s called crystal cave. But yeah, we haven’t gone and done them yet and it’s definitely on my to-do list.
2 (25m 23s):
Number six, national park is Pinnacles National Park. This one is interesting because it is California’s newest national park. It actually became a national park back in 2013. It was previously designated as a national monument back in like 1908 by Teddy Roosevelt,
3 (25m 40s):
Mr. Roosevelt himself,
2 (25m 42s):
Good old Roosevelt
3 (25m 43s):
2 (25m 45s):
And we actually were on a trip trying to go to big Sur
3 (25m 50s):
Or not big Sur road trip.
2 (25m 52s):
And it didn’t quite work out because of a landslide. And so we ended up here by chance and I’m really glad that we did
1 (25m 58s):
And we liked it so much, much more than I have gone back and we explored even more a Pinnacles there’s actually a west side and an east side and you can’t drive from one side to the other. You have to go all the way around. Really love this national park. I think it’s super underrated in California.
2 (26m 13s):
3 (26m 14s):
Yeah. And so this park is 80 miles Southeast of San Jose. So really not too far from the Southern end of the bay area, San Francisco, which obviously it’s further from San Francisco than San Jose. But just to give you some geographical context and the parks namesake is because of the eroded leftovers of an extinct volcano that was in the area. And basically, you know, the San Andreas fault runs through California. So the volcano has gone extinct, but these Pinnacles that they name it are the solidified kind of magma and rocks of the volcano that have just like eroded away and are left standing there during summer. It gets hot. But during the right time of year after, you know, winter, when it’s still like green and lush with the color contrast, it’s really, really beautiful.
2 (26m 57s):
Yeah. At that time we went was in March and it was a rainy time of year. I think it was raining on this trip, beautiful greenery. I had a friend that went in summer and I was really hyping it up. I was like, you have to go. It was really cool. And they ended up going in summer, said it was really hot. It was barren. It wasn’t nice at all.
3 (27m 16s):
Oh yeah. But when you’re there, when it’s green and lush, it is like a beautiful green.
2 (27m 19s):
Yeah. So this is one we would recommend going in winter or spring over summer,
1 (27m 24s):
He did some really good hikes on the west side, we did the Junifer canyon loop. That was a really good trail. What’s awesome about this national park. It’s one of the parks where they release Condors into the wild. And so we got to see some flying,
2 (27m 37s):
Whole bunch, both
1 (27m 39s):
Trips. And that was really cool on the higher that you hike up, the closer you get to the Condors in the sky. So pretty amazing to see them.
3 (27m 46s):
Yeah. And the last time that we were there, we did a hike called the bear Gulch loop, but it doesn’t matter what I kill do. You’re going to go ahead and see the Condors quite honestly. But point being of why I say that as people bring their binoculars and they can see with their binoculars, the Condors and you can actually see them tagged. So you can identify which condor is what based off of their tact, because I don’t know how many people know this. The Condors were literally on the verge of extinction. There was maybe about like 16 of the California Condors left. They captured them all did a breeding program for them actually at the San Diego zoo and wild animal park that we have down here in our current hometown area.
3 (28m 26s):
And they have bread enough of them that they’ve released them into the wild here at Pinnacles, a couple other national parks, but there’s still only about like 300 in the wild. So still a very, very small population
1 (28m 38s):
And Pinnacles National Park is also known for some of the caves that they have. They actually have two famous caves. They’re called Talis caves. And a Telus cave is a cave that’s formed when boulders pile up on top of like mountain slopes and create that natural cave. And so these caves are actually important to many bat species. And so they close them during different times of the year when it’s like bat mating season. But when Jamal and I went in January, we were actually able to go into the bear Gulch cave. And it was really cool and awesome to explore within,
3 (29m 10s):
Oh yeah, you need to bring a flashlight when you’re hiking through there, climbing up through it. There’s even water caressing and waterfalls coming through. It’s really, really nice. And if you want to hear more about Pinnacles National Park, go back to episode 11, our big sir, not big Sur road trip. And we talk more in detail about our adventures out there.
1 (29m 28s):
Number seven on our list is Channel Islands, National Park. It’s actually not on California land. It’s off of the coast of California and you have to take a boat to get there.
3 (29m 42s):
Yes, if you couldn’t tell by the name islands, they are islands off of the coast. Now these are in Southern California off the coast of Ventura county, which is north of Los Angeles. Again, just to give people some geographical context. Now there are five main islands out there. And like Brittany said, you could only reach it by boat. Each island is unique in its own, right? Britney and I, when we went, we only went to Anna Kappa island. They have a famous old lighthouse out there and that’s actually the island where all the seagulls nest and mate and have their chicks for whatever reason, they don’t go to the other four. Believe it or not. They just all congregate on that one. But each island, like we said, unique in their own, right?
3 (30m 23s):
And there’s even places where you can actually swim amongst the giant kelp forests that they have off the islands. We didn’t get to do that, which was a real bummer. I
2 (30m 31s):
Want to do that. I would want that stuff touching me.
1 (30m 34s):
3 (30m 35s):
Well, it’s very prominent, but it’s not so thick that you’re going to be touching it as you swim through. It’s like spread out, but they’re just so tall that, you know, you can maneuver your way through there, but a lot of seals and sea lions are in that area. And that made me think of sharks. And so I’m just like, I didn’t really want to do it at that point, but I still think it would be fun to do, but on a different island trip,
1 (30m 58s):
We also did a hike. It was called inspiration point. And if you look up and Google Channel Islands, National Park, the picture that you’re going to get, where you look out to all of the islands, that’s from inspiration point,
2 (31m 10s):
Very inspiring. It’s actually funny how many National parks have points called inspiration point?
1 (31m 16s):
I know almost everyone, right?
3 (31m 19s):
Well, that’s what they’re here for to inspire the only other, I mean, I know there’s more one that comes to mind is going to be grand Teton inspiration point. We hiked up to inspiration point at that one. And here’s another one at Channel Islands, National park.
1 (31m 32s):
If I were to go back to Channel Islands National Park, I would love to kayak and explore some sea caves. I think that would be really cool to do.
2 (31m 39s):
Do you know if they do any like tours where you go to multiple islands?
1 (31m 43s):
You know, I, I don’t know. I don’t know if they do once the island hopper, you just pick one island for the day.
2 (31m 49s):
Cause I think that would be cool if we could find something like a vide or tour or something like that, where it’s a day thing or they’re touring you through the different islands on the boat lunch, maybe some rum punch involved
3 (32m 1s):
Ideal already. But on that note, Kim, we chose Anna Kappa because it is the closest islands to the coast. All of the other ones are further out. And on top of that, I know that took a long time to get out there when we did our charter. Cause again, it was with a private company. The only way to get out there is you have your own boat or you take another boat out there. And I can imagine them being able to fit more than three in a day, unless you’re spending the night out there on the boat before they take you in, it’s kind of like a multi-day thing. It takes a good amount of time. And if you’re going to explore the islands and do stuff, I don’t think you could hit more than potentially three. If not only two, quite
2 (32m 38s):
Honestly, no island hopping. Not
1 (32m 40s):
Really. Not, not like you did in Kauai, right? Yeah.
2 (32m 45s):
That’s cool. I would like to go. I’d like to snorkel out there too. I think that’d be fun.
1 (32m 49s):
I bet there’s a lot of good snorkeling out there. I think kayaking and the CAO caves would be cool. It would just be really nice to go back.
3 (32m 56s):
So number eight is going to be Death Valley National Park. We’ve taken you from the mountainous areas along the coast and inland to the mountains, out to the sea. And here we are, these last two kind of rounding out California’s desert area. And we did a squad trip to Death Valley National Park. One of my favorite trips that we’ve taken as a squad and what makes Death Valley National Park unique. It is the hottest and driest place on planet earth. And it has the lowest point of any of the National parks or any place on earth other than the dead sea and Israel and Jordan for that matter. So second lowest point, it’s like a couple hundred feet below sea level.
2 (33m 35s):
California is so unique. We have the tallest trees, the largest trees, the lowest point, the hottest point. Like we’re pretty cool over here.
3 (33m 45s):
Oh yeah. I would like to say we have the tallest mountain in Mount Whitney. We don’t, I think the tallest one is an Alaska not Denali, right? But here in California of the contiguous us, we have the tallest. And as a matter of fact, you can actually see Mount Whitney from Death Valley.
2 (34m 2s):
Interesting. The tallest point and the lowest point are near each other. That’s crazy. This was a really cool national park though. I know like talking about it, being the hottest place in dries place doesn’t sound that great, but it actually is really cool. They have a portion of the park called Mesquite sand dunes and it’s these huge sand dunes you can walk around. I’m sure you could go sledding. Like if you brought a sled,
1 (34m 25s):
I bet you could.
2 (34m 26s):
Yeah. They were huge. It’s fun to walk around there and get a little workout into,
3 (34m 31s):
It’s fun to go barefoot in that, but not during summer. We went during winter in January and it was still warm, like 70 degrees, but it was tolerable if you actually go during hotter times. I mean, I think the record temperature breaking was like 134 degrees.
2 (34m 45s):
I would not go in the summer.
1 (34m 47s):
Yeah. You know, people, I guess, do you come in the summer just to feel that heat? Cause they’ve never felt heat like that before, but I can’t even imagine like wanting to get out of the car if it was that hot, but to each their own, we saw a lot of cool things that while we were in Death Valley, Kim mentioned the sand dunes. We also went and saw the salt flats, which are like these, oh yeah. Polygon salt formations. That Death Valley is very famous for. And there are a lot of really beautiful viewpoints, like Zabriskie point, it’s the most famous viewpoint in the entire park there. And it overlooks these beautiful golden Badlands.
2 (35m 23s):
And that was really, really pretty. And there was like a little abandoned mine kind of things as you walked on this trail and that was cool.
3 (35m 29s):
They did some sort of mining back in the day out here. I think it was for borax or something like that. Does that sound about right? I think is the name of the material that they were mining
2 (35m 38s):
Silver maybe as well.
3 (35m 39s):
Yeah, absolutely. But you know, I mean, we’re talking about it being hot and it really is, but I think people underestimate the beauty of a desert and there’s so many different desert landscapes here within Death Valley, you have sand dunes, then you have dry, then you have the salt formations. And then when Brittany was talking about that, that’s where bad water basin is the lowest point 282 feet below sea level. I mean just crazy, crazy, crazy. I love Death Valley and I do want to go back. I don’t know if I have the courage to go there during the summer. Not that I don’t think I could handle the heat. My concern is is that heat going to break down my car? How much I’m blasting the AC out there. And then I don’t want to be stuck out there. That’s my concern.
2 (36m 20s):
I enjoyed it when we went in January.
1 (36m 22s):
3 (36m 23s):
Yeah. And then we did all the touring around the first day, the second day we actually did a hike and that’s where we did. We want to call it spelunking. I mean, we really went through that little slot canyon area and into the caves and climbing through the rocks. And it was really fun. There’s lots to do out here. So
1 (36m 38s):
Squad tip for you guys, if you really don’t get cell service within the park. And so make sure you do your research on what your hike entrances are going to look like because to get into that slot canyon, we had a hard time finding the entrance. So that’s why we would say download offline maps, do your research, make sure you know what you’re looking for while you’re traversing through Death Valley.
2 (37m 1s):
Yeah. And I want to make sure that you guys have the information it’s called side winder, slot canyon, and it’s lesser known. There weren’t hardly any people on this trail with us and it’s close enough that you could do it like we did highly recommended. So that’s some insider info for you.
3 (37m 18s):
That was a really fun one. The Sidewinder slot canyon. Absolutely. And another piece dimension here is you are not too far from the Nevada border. So what we did after our hiking is we ended up going to per rump, Nevada. We played some bingo that night ate some Thai food. And you would think Pahrump Nevada probably never heard of it. I don’t blame you. I don’t think it had a population more than like 800 people. I’m not even going to lie. Some of the best Thai food I’ve ever had was in that place.
2 (37m 47s):
3 (37m 47s):
Spicy, very spicy. It messed up my stomach. We all know about this. You want to hear the story? Go back and listen to episode 23 where we talk all about it. But the Thai food was so, so good. Just incredibly spicy.
2 (37m 57s):
You definitely want to go back and listen to that episode. There’s some funny stories in that one.
3 (38m 2s):
Yeah. W we get, we’re just going to tease him with that. We won’t tell him exactly what was too funny about it.
2 (38m 8s):
All right now, number nine. And the last national park on our list is Joshua Tree National Park. This one is surprised the prize known for Joshua trees. And yeah, imagine that, but it’s not only about Joshua trees and these trees are really beautiful, but it also has these huge, rugged rock formations. Bouldering is really big out there, like really pretty desert landscape. And you can see the stars so good at night.
3 (38m 34s):
A lot of from the LA area, cause this isn’t like close to LA, like close, close, but it’s not far either or just in general, Southern California come out here to really do camping because it gives you incredible views of the night sky. It’s isolated enough that you don’t have any light pollution, other pollution in general. And it gives you that whole unique landscape. I would say like Joshua Tree is kind of like, I hate to say it to this and scare people off from going. Cause it shouldn’t be, but like a yuppie place to go for some people, you know what I mean?
2 (39m 4s):
I’ve, I’ve heard people from LA we’ll go out there and do like Iowasca kind of experiences. Interesting. Yeah,
1 (39m 13s):
No, there’s a really cool Airbnb experience. Stay that I’ve been eyeing. It’s an Airstream that you stay in at night, but you know, during the day or if you’re just hanging out outside, there’s an outdoor bed and there is a hot tub too. So it’d be really cool to stay there.
3 (39m 31s):
And another unique thing about the park is its uniqueness of the desert away status. It is, I mean, it is the Mojave desert and yet it kind of meets with the Colorado river area. So you have these two unique ecosystems that kind of merged together to form Joshua Tree
2 (39m 46s):
When Brittany and I went, we did a little girl’s trip and we did the last horse mind trail and it was really good. I think it was like six and a half miles or so. And I would recommend that one. It was a nice, nice walk.
1 (39m 57s):
Yeah. It really showed off the beautiful desert landscape, the Joshua trees. We did that on a girl’s trip, highly recommend.
3 (40m 4s):
Do any of you guys watch American horror story? Brittany and I used to watch it and she stopped because she stopped being into it. But I like it still. Did you ever watch any of the American horror stories? Yeah,
2 (40m 13s):
I’ve seen some, I stopped watching when they did this circus.
3 (40m 17s):
Oh, okay. So it kind of really, well, the reason why I bring it up is one of the most recent seasons. They actually had one where people from LA go out to Joshua Tree, but they had an alien abduction and they were like experimented on out there. But that kind of ties into what I was saying about like people from LA really go out there and they did a glamping experience in a kind of off topic. But
2 (40m 37s):
Yeah, I hear there’s a bunch of different glamping kind of experiences out there probably because so many LA people go. But yeah, it’s a good one. It’s a great one. We actually have somewhat of an episode on this. If you go back to episode 30, we talk about this girls trip where we went here. We also did another really cool slot canyon ladder canyon trail here. So I would highly recommend listening to that one.
3 (40m 58s):
Did you ladies have any final thoughts about California’s nine national parks before we get into questions of the week?
2 (41m 4s):
My final thought is that I’m like trying to see what I can go back to what I can plan. I want to go to Redwood really bad. I want to go back to Sequoia and see those crystal caves. I’d love to go out to Channel Islands. Is it just making me want to travel? That’s my final thought.
3 (41m 21s):
I mean, we had this episode specifically because all of these ones are such iconic, unique national parks. And I don’t just say this partially because we’re from California. I mean, I’ve obviously been in national parks and other states that I would say are for sure better than some of these nine, but just California is so unique in its diversity and landscape that all of these are just exceptional national parks all around.
1 (41m 44s):
Yeah. You really can’t go wrong with visiting any of these national parks. But if you have the time do some research plan, a few road trips hit off different sections of California, you’re really going to enjoy seeing all of California’s national parks
3 (41m 58s):
Cam. I think it’s your time
2 (41m 60s):
Questions of the week. First question coming in is asking which California national park is your favorite.
1 (42m 14s):
Well, I feel like Kim and Jamal already answered this question within the episode, you both said Sequoia was your favorite.
3 (42m 20s):
Yes. And I’m going to stick with it. And I would say because of the trees, I mean, it’s just absolutely breathtaking. It’s also a twofer. So I mean, I hate to not give Kings Canyon credit in that sense of things. Cause since they touch, but I like it because of the two for the trees. And then I would put Yosemite as a second. For sure.
1 (42m 39s):
I would have to say Yosemite is probably my favorite national park with Sequoia being a close second. But I just think the scenery in Yosemite is just breathtaking with all of those granite cliffs and the waterfalls are amazing. They’re like if you go in spring and really enjoy those waterfalls. Beautiful.
2 (42m 57s):
Okay. And question number two is what was the first national park that you ever visited?
1 (43m 4s):
I actually think that the first national park I ever visited was Redwoods when I was probably four, maybe five years old. I remember going with my dad, my grandma and my brother. And I think we also visited Sequoia around that time too.
2 (43m 21s):
I think for me without knowing it, when I took that trip to Arcata, when I was 18 and went to Fern canyon, that was in Redwood national parks. I guess that was my first one
3 (43m 32s):
For me. I don’t remember at what age, I’m fortunate that my parents took us on a lot of like road trips. And I know when my dad had family that was visiting from Lebanon, I know we went to Redwoods. I was around five at that time. And I also remember being at that age, it wasn’t with my family when they came from overseas. But other family, friends, we also went to Yellowstone at that time also. And so I remember briefly as a child just smelling the sulfur and thinking, oh, it smells like eggs. And that’s like the prominent memory I have, but I don’t remember which one was first. Cause I was so young, but one of those two I’m sure of it.
2 (44m 10s):
My first national park that I ever knowingly went to was actually with you too when we went to Zion.
1 (44m 15s):
2 (44m 15s):
Yeah. And I was probably like 26. I really didn’t start exploring our national parks until my adult life
3 (44m 24s):
Better, late than never though.
2 (44m 25s):
I know that’s exactly true. It’s better late than never. And I’ve seen so many of them now and I know if I have kids raise kids, that’s definitely going to be something that I start them young on because they’re so beautiful. There’s so many to see
1 (44m 37s):
And they’re all so unique. They all have something different to offer.
3 (44m 40s):
Although we have said this in previous episodes, some places are national parks that should be national park. And we have the newest national park that just happened in March, found out a couple of days ago kind of disappointed that they made a national park. It’s like a St. Louis arch type situation.
2 (44m 53s):
What’s the newest session
3 (44m 54s):
It’s in Colorado and it was a national monument and I feel like they should have just kept it as a national monument.
2 (45m 0s):
Hmm. Yeah. There’s just making all kinds of weird choices lately.
3 (45m 3s):
2 (45m 5s):
Okay. Our third and final questions coming in from Ryan layer and he’s asking what is the best way to visit all of California’s national parks if you’re coming from the east coast?
3 (45m 15s):
Well, I think you kind of touched upon it earlier came. I mean, you have to break them up unless you’re planning on doing like some sort of epic road trip doing them all at once or maybe five and four. I mean you have to really break it up. So I don’t know what the best way, but I would say we’ve kind of narrowed it down from going north to south or starting south to north. And I would say just kind of work an area. I talked about how three of them are in the Sierra, Nevada mountains, not too far from each other, Yosemite Sequoia Kings. Maybe if you’re gonna break it up, focus on that, then focus on the desert region later, Joshua Tree and Death Valley, National Park, and then coastal, you know, so you can break them up by region, but if you’re going to do an epic road trip, I mean, I think that would be awesome, but you got to do north to south and then obviously figure out how you’re zigzagging east west along that.
3 (46m 2s):
2 (46m 2s):
I think that would be a really long trip, but they’re kind of in clusters, like you could even knock out Southern central and Northern.
1 (46m 8s):
Yeah, I would, I would probably clean it in like a three-part trip. If you were to do it all in one trip, I mean nine national parks plus the drive,
2 (46m 17s):
Maybe a whole month trip. I could spend enough time in each one.
3 (46m 20s):
I would love to do this when Brittany and I have our Airstream. Now my Airstream will not make it to Channel Islands, but I will take a boat
2 (46m 28s):
Because if you’re coming from the east coast and you’re seeing all these national parks, you’re driving the length of California, you’re probably going to want to see a few other things while you’re here too, especially in Southern California. Like if you’re around LA, so yeah, make it a month trip. I
1 (46m 43s):
Would love to do that even though we’re here
2 (46m 45s):
Right now with gas, maybe not the best, most affordable option, but they’re not going anywhere. All right. Squaddies, that’s what we have here this week. Thank you so much for tuning in, keep the adventures going with us. Be sure to follow us on Instagram at YouTube and Travel Squad Podcast and tag us in your adventures.
3 (47m 2s):
If you found the information in this episode to be useful, or if you thought we were just playing funny, please be sure to share it with a friend that would enjoy it too. And as always guys, you know it, please subscribe, rate and review our podcast and tune in every travel Tuesday for new episodes,
1 (47m 16s):
Stay tuned for next week’s episode, we have some more amazing adventures and tips in store for you.