1. Travel

California National Parks

Cabrillo National Monument

Memorializes Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, Portuguese explorer who landed at San Diego Bay on September 28, 1542, and claimed this coast for Spain.

California National Historic Trail

The road to California carried over 250,000 gold-seekers & farmers to the gold fields & rich farmlands of California during the 1840's and 1850's - the greatest mass migration in American history. More than 1,000 miles of trail ruts and traces can still be seen in the vast undeveloped west - reminders of the sacrifices, struggles, and triumphs of early American travelers and settlers.

Channel Islands National Park

Comprising five islands off the Southern California coast, park includes nesting sea birds, sea lion rookeries, and a variety of plants found nowhere else in the world.

Death Valley National Park

This large desert, nearly surrounded by high mountains, includes the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere.

Devils Postpile National Monument

Features basalt columns 40 to 60 feet high resembling a giant pipe organ that were formed by the cooling and cracking of hot lava some 900,000 years ago.

Eugene O'Neill National Historic Site

Eugene O'Neill, Nobel Prize winning playwright and the architect of modern American theater, lived at Tao House in the hills above Danville from 1937 to 1944.

Fort Point National Historic Site

Constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers between 1853 and 1861 to prevent entrance of a hostile fleet into San Francisco Bay.

Golden Gate National Recreation Area

Hosting nearly 20 million visitors a year, this large urban park includes ocean beaches, redwood forests, lagoons, marshes, military properties, and Alcatraz Island.

John Muir National Historic Site

Preserves the 17-room mansion where naturalist and Sierra Club founder John Muir lived from 1890 until his death in 1914.

Joshua Tree National Park

Desert park and Biosphere Reserve features a variety of plants and animals, and a representative stand of Joshua-trees.

Kings Canyon National Park

The third oldest national park features a rugged canyon and powerful river, waterfalls, and desolate backcountry. It includes Grants Grove and Cedar Grove.

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Established as a national park due to active volcanism. Lassen Peak erupted intermittently from 1914 until 1921.

Lava Beds National Monument

Volcanic activity here created a rugged landscape — a natural fortress used by the Indians in the Modoc Indian War, 1872-73.

Manzanar National Historic Site

Best preserved of ten camps at which Japanese American citizens and Japanese aliens were interned during World War II.

Mojave National Preserve

Protects fragile environment of the desert tortoise, and features a variety of landscapes, geologic phenomenon, historic sites, and recreation areas.

Muir Woods National Monument

Includes a virgin stand of coastal redwoods, named for John Muir, writer and conservationist.

Pinnacles National Monument

Features spirelike rock formations 500 to 1,200 feet high, with caves and a variety of volcanic features. Closed until further notice due to storm damage.

Point Reyes National Seashore

Peninsula near San Francisco is noted for its long beaches backed by tall cliffs, lagoons and esteros, forested ridges, and offshore bird and sea lion colonies.

Pony Express National Historic Trail

The Pony Express NHT was used by young men on fast horses to carry the nation's mail from Missouri to California in the unprecedented time of only ten days. The relay system became the nation's most direct and practical means of east-west communications before the telegraph, and it played a vital role in aligning California with the Union in the years just before the Civil War.

Redwood National and State Parks

Features old growth coastal redwood forests and 40 miles of scenic Pacific coastline.

Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park

This Richmond, California park was created to commemorate the mobilization of the workforce on the home front during World War II, while specifically recognizing the contributions of women and minorities to this effort.

San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

Includes the historic fleet at Hyde Street Pier, the Maritime Museum, and the Maritime Museum Library.

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area

Located near Los Angeles, it features more than 580 miles of hiking trails and a 55-mile scenic drive through the Santa Monica Mountains

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

The second oldest national park is home to groves of giant sequoias, Mineral King Valley, and Mount Whitney.

Whiskeytown-Shasta-Trinity National Recreation Area

Featuring mountainous backcountry and a large reservoir, the Whiskeytown Unit offers activities such as hiking and boating.

Yosemite National Park

Established in 1890, this Sierra Nevada park features alpine wilderness, groves of Giant Sequoias, and the glacially-carved Yosemite Valley.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.