Get back to nature at these 10 great California outdoor attractions


California is a dream destination for many travellers, with its diverse landscapes, vibrant cities and endless attractions, but beyond the popular spots like Hollywood, Disneyland and Yosemite, there are many under-the-radar experiences that can make your trip even more memorable, especially outdoors. Here are 10 of them:

Explore an active volcano at Lassen Volcanic National Park

If you’re fascinated by geothermal wonders, you’ll love Lassen Volcanic National Park, where you can see bubbling mud pots, steaming vents and boiling springs. The park is home to Lassen Peak, the largest plug dome volcano in the world, which last erupted in 1915. You can hike to the summit for panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and lakes, or enjoy other trails that showcase the park’s diverse ecosystems and wildlife.

Watch whales from a historic lighthouse at Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands

For a scenic and secluded coastal escape, head to Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands, a 1,700-acre area that was designated as part of the California Coastal National Monument in 2014. Here you can admire the rugged cliffs, rocky arches and tide pools that make up this stunning stretch of shoreline. You can also climb to the top of Point Arena Lighthouse, the tallest of its kind on the Pacific Coast, and spot humpback, blue or gray whales as they migrate between Alaska and Mexico.

Sip boutique wines in the charming California town of Murphys

If you’re looking for a lesser-known wine country destination, look no further than Murphys, a quaint town in California’s Gold Country. Here you can taste more than two dozen local wines at the town’s walkable tasting rooms, or visit nearby vineyards and wineries. Murphys also has a rich history dating back to the Gold Rush era, as well as natural attractions like Calaveras Big Trees State Park and Moaning Cavern, the largest cavern in the state.

Drive along the scenic Sierra Vista Scenic Byway

For a road trip that will take your breath away, hop on the Sierra Vista Scenic Byway, a 100-mile loop that winds through the Sierra National Forest. Along the way, you’ll encounter stunning views of granite domes, alpine lakes, meadows and forests. You’ll also pass by historic sites like the Jesse Ross Cabin and the Mile High Vista, as well as recreation areas where you can hike, bike, fish or camp.

Marvel at ancient rock art at Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park

If you’re interested in Native American culture and history, you’ll want to visit Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park, where you can see some of the best-preserved rock art in California. The park protects a small sandstone cave that features colorful paintings made by the Chumash people hundreds or thousands of years ago. The paintings depict animals, human figures and geometric shapes, and their meanings are still a mystery.

Walk among giants at Humboldt Redwoods State Park

While there are many places to see redwood trees in California, Humboldt Redwoods State Park is one of the most impressive. It’s the largest redwood park in the state, with over 53,000 acres of forest land. It’s also home to the Avenue of the Giants, a 32-mile scenic drive that passes by some of the tallest and oldest trees on Earth. You can also hike, bike or horseback ride on more than 100 miles of trails that weave through the majestic groves.

Witness a colourful vision at Salvation Mountain

Salvation Mountain is a unique and whimsical attraction that showcases one man’s devotion and creativity. Leonard Knight spent more than 30 years building this folk art installation out of adobe, straw and paint. The result is a 50-foot-high, 150-foot-wide hill covered with bright colors and religious messages. You can walk around and admire the murals, sculptures and flowers that adorn this man-made mountain, or climb to the top for a view of the desert.

Relax in a natural hot spring at Grover Hot Springs State Park

If you need some relaxation and rejuvenation, head to Grover Hot Springs State Park, where you can soak in a natural hot spring pool surrounded by pine trees and mountains. The mineral water is heated by geothermal activity and has a temperature of about 103°F. The park also offers a cool swimming pool, as well as hiking trails, camping sites and cross-country skiing opportunities.

Discover a hidden waterfall at McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park

McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park is a hidden gem that features one of the most beautiful waterfalls in California. Burney Falls is a 129-foot cascade that flows over a basalt cliff into a clear pool. The waterfall is fed by underground springs and flows year-round. You can view the falls from an overlook, or hike down to the base for a closer look. You can also enjoy other activities in the park, such as fishing, boating, camping and wildlife watching.

Step back in time at Bodie State Historic Park

Bodie State Historic Park is a must-see for history buffs and ghost town enthusiasts. It preserves the remains of Bodie, a gold mining town that boomed in the late 1800s and then declined in the early 1900s. Today, you can walk along the deserted streets and peek inside the buildings that still stand, such as the church, the schoolhouse and the saloon. You’ll get a glimpse of what life was like in this wild west town, which is now a National Historic Landmark.

ENS Editors

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