Eight Great National Parks of California: A pictorial overview

There can be no doubt about it. California is blessed with an abundance of varied climates and terrains.

And, as it turns out, the National Park Service has recognized this by establishing 8 National Parks in the state.

Here is a quick look at each of them.

Note: This map shows other National Park Service features (Monuments, Landmarks, Historic Parks, etc) besides the parks. This article only looks at the 8 National Parks.

I will get to the rest of them eventually.

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(Please forgive the slow load times.  I wanted to give you the best chance to see the power of these places.)

Channel Islands

Channel Islands National Park encompasses five remarkable islands and their ocean environment, preserving and protecting a wealth of natural and cultural resources. Isolation over thousands of years has created unique animals, plants, and archeological resources found nowhere else on Earth and helped preserve a place where visitors can experience coastal southern California as it once was.

Death Valley

In this below-sea-level basin, steady drought and record summer heat make Death Valley a land of extremes. Yet, each extreme has a striking contrast. Towering peaks are frosted with winter snow. Rare rainstorms bring vast fields of wildflowers. Lush oases harbor tiny fish and refuge for wildlife and humans. Despite its morbid name, a great diversity of life survives in Death Valley.

Joshua Tree

Two distinct desert ecosystems, the Mojave and the Colorado, come together in Joshua Tree National Park. A fascinating variety of plants and animals make their homes in a land sculpted by strong winds and occasional torrents of rain. Dark night skies, a rich cultural history, and surreal geologic features add to the wonder of this vast wilderness in southern California. Come explore for yourself.

"Giant Marbles in Joshua Tree National Park" by Brocken Inaglory - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons -

Lassen Volcanic

Lassen Volcanic National Park is home to steaming fumaroles, meadows freckled with wildflowers, clear mountain lakes, and numerous volcanoes. Jagged peaks tell the story of its eruptive past while hot water continues to shape the land. Lassen Volcanic offers opportunities to discover the wonder and mysteries of volcanoes and hot water for visitors willing to explore the undiscovered.

Redwood

Most people know Redwood as home to the tallest trees on Earth. The parks also protect vast prairies, oak woodlands, wild riverways, and nearly 40 miles of rugged coastline. For thousands of years people have lived in this verdant landscape. Together, the National Park Service and California State Parks manage these lands for the inspiration, enjoyment, and education of all.

Sequoia & Kings Canyon

This dramatic landscape testifies to nature's size, beauty, and diversity--huge mountains, rugged foothills, deep canyons, vast caverns, and the world's largest trees. These two parks lie side by side in the southern Sierra Nevada east of the San Joaquin Valley. Weather varies a lot by season and elevation, which ranges from 1,370' to 14,494'. Sequoias grow at 5,000 - 7,000', above usual snowline.

Yosemite

Not just a great valley, but a shrine to human foresight, the strength of granite, the power of glaciers, the persistence of life, and the tranquility of the High Sierra.

First protected in 1864, Yosemite National Park is best known for its waterfalls, but within its nearly 1,200 square miles, you can find deep valleys, grand meadows, ancient giant sequoias, a vast wilderness area, and much more.

Sunset seems to light fire to Horsetail Falls, Yosemite National Park

Horsetail Falls, Yosemite National Park

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Aergo Wanderlust

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