The 9 best California State Parks

1. Emerald Bay State Park: 

Picturesque notch of Lake Tahoe’s southwestern shores, featuring beaches, Tahoe’s only island, and a Scandinavian-style stone castle. Outdoor recreation includes hiking, kayaking to Fannette Island, and scuba diving.

2. Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park: 

Stunning cove in Big Sur with a secluded beach cove, azure waters, and a waterfall cascading onto golden sand. The beach is not accessible, but a trail offers a perfect vantage point for photos.

3. Point Lobos State Natural Reserve: 

Known as the greatest meeting of land and water, Point Lobos offers hiking trails with beach coves, aquamarine waters, resting seals, and scuba diving spots in Monterey Bay.

4. Humboldt Redwoods State Park: 

California’s largest redwood state park, featuring the Avenue of the Giants with towering trees, and notable stops like Founder’s Grove with the downed Dyerville Giant, a 2,000-year-old tree.

5. McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park: 

Features a 129-foot curtain waterfall fed by Burney Creek and underground springs. The park offers hiking trails, including a segment of the Pacific Crest Trail, and water recreation on Lake Britton.

6. Crystal Cove State Park: 

Offers a 3.2-mile beach with turquoise waters, tide pools, canyons, and The Beachcomber restaurant and Bootlegger Bar for dining with ocean views.

7. Russian Gulch State Park: 

Diverse scenery including Pacific views, the Devil’s Punchbowl sea cave, the Fern Canyon trail through a redwood forest, and a 36-foot waterfall.

8. Big Basin Redwoods State Park: 

California’s oldest state park with some of the largest and oldest trees in the world. Features the Redwood Loop Trail, Berry Creek Falls, and Rancho del Oso coastal area.

9. Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park: 

Offers Fern Canyon, a narrow creek bed with towering cliffs covered in ferns. Featured in Return of the Jedi and The Lost World: Jurassic Park.