Ancient forests, rocky coastlines, painted deserts, imposing mountains, rushing rivers, starry skies, fiery sunsets and sandy beaches — this is Kingdom California.
Nestled at the bottom of one of the deepest and steepest valleys in the world, the gnarly, weathered boulders that form the Alabama Hills lay stacked and scattered beneath the jagged Sierra Crest.
Tucked into a glacial cirque, Convict Lake is ringed by dramatic, High Sierra peaks. While it's not exactly a wilderness experience, it is a fun place to hike, fish, and pitch a tent — use it as a basecamp to explore the Mammoth Lakes area or while fishing the Upper Owens River.
Desolation Wilderness is an alpine landscape scoured by ancient glaciers and punished over and over by heavy winds and snow. The Climb to this granite wonderland in the high country above Lake Tahoe is steep. The reward? Azure lakes, dramatic peaks, starry skies and hungry trout.
Emigrant Wilderness is a high country defined by granite walls, domes, ridges, peaks and the meadows, creeks, and lakes that lay in their shadows. It is a paradise for backpackers and trout anglers — the later will have an opportunity to cast to trophy sized fish deep in the High Sierra wilderness.
Hendy Woods SP
True, the trees at Hendy Woods State Park are not quite as tall as the giants in some of California's more famous redwood parks. But Hendy Woods' unique location alongside orchards and vineyards in Anderson Valley — an idyllic and undiscovered wine country — gives it a magic that is all its own.
Montgomery Woods SNR
Lying farther inland than most redwood parks, Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve is tucked into the heart of Mendocino County’s coast range. The narrow, windy, pot-hole-laden drive to get here is worth it, though. There’s a redwood among these groves that was once the tallest known tree in the world.
Point Cabrillo Lighthouse
With its rare fresnel lens, Point Cabrillo Lighthouse has guided ships along Mendocino's magical coast for more than a century. Here, you can feel the ocean's power, watch for gray whales, and walk your dog along the wind-swept bluffs. Lighthouse lovers will relish the chance to spend the night in either the Lightkeeper's House or a pair of small cottages.
Red Rock Canyon SP
Red Rock Canyon State Park is an extraterrestrial landscape of steep canyons and painted rock formations — a place that attracts rock hounds, artists and adventurers alike. Hiking in the cooler months is superb. After the sun goes down, grab a blanket and prepare to be hypnotized by the stars.
Sinkyone Wilderness SP
What's Sinkyone Wilderness State Park Like? Think Big Sur, but without the people or roads or anything, really. This section of California's magnificent coastline is one of the most remote parts of America. The ocean here is hypnotic — it can be like staring into the eyes of someone you love.