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Article: Travel to California's Best Kept Secret National Parks

Travel to California’s Best Kept Secret National Parks

Travel to California's Best Kept Secret National Parks

Sequoia & King's Canyon

 mountain street

Photo by Julien Moreau 

Nestled against the Sierra Nevada, just southeast of Yosemite national park set two American national treasures. Sequoia & King's Canyon national park are two distinct parks in one and offer 14 campgrounds with over 800 miles of hiking on over 800,000 acres of wilderness. Sequoia is home to the largest trees in the world while Kings Canyon is deeper than the Grand Canyon.

Most of the park is only accessible by foot or horseback. You will need a wilderness permit before any backpacking excursions. It is advisable to leave your car behind and take a shuttle into the park to begin your adventure.

Sequoia is home to Mt. Whitney, the tallest peak in the contiguous United States. When you go, visit the tree museum for a tutorial on how to get the most out of your visit. You will be in awe as you stand against the enormous trunk of the General Sherman sequoia.  Standing 274 feet tall, weighing 2.7 million pounds, and 2,100 years old, General Sherman is one of the oldest of living things on the planet. In comparison, the Fallen Monarch is only 1,000 years old. Throughout the annals of time, the Fallen Monarch has served as a Native American shelter, as a hotel and a saloon, and in 1870 the U.S. Calvary turned it into a stable for 32 horses.

Don't miss hiking the 2.5 miles of passages in Crystal Cave where colorful stalagmites strain to reach the ceiling above where enchanted stalactites strain to maintain their grip to keep from falling to the floor. From Crystal Cave hike 500 steps up Moro Rock where visitors are rewarded with breathtaking views of the Great Western Divide. See native wildlife such as marmots, bighorn sheep, flying squirrels. Always be on the lookout for black bears.

With rushing waters, giant trees, waterfalls, caves, wilderness ranging from light day use to rugged terrain with miles and miles of back-country to get lost in, Sequoia and King's Canyon remains a must-see gem of a national park. 

Channel Islands

Picture courtesy of: Filippo Jean

Everyone has heard of Yosemite, Sequoia, and Death Valley. But have you ever considered travel to some of the lesser known and least visited national parks in California? Places where you can kayak through a chain of islands spotting schools of playful otters, leaping dolphins, and mammoth blue whales? Are you looking for a unique place to camp, hike, kayak, rock climb, scuba dive, star gaze, or bird watch? Make your plans today to escape to one of the least visited national parks in America, the captivating Channel Islands.

Located 20 miles from the hustle and bustle of Southern California are five enchanted islands, suspended in time immemorial: Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Miquel, and Santa Barbara. Known as the American Galapagos, the islands thrive with over 2,000 different species from the smallest plankton to the largest animal on the planet, the Great Blue Whale.

After a boat ride from the mainland leaves you on Anacapa island, hike up to the Anacapa Lighthouse where you will see flocks of brown pelicans, western seagulls, and bald eagles, or even the elusive and once upon a time nearly extinct island fox found only on the Channel Islands. You will discover over 145 varieties of plant and animal life unique to the Channel Islands. Hike through forests of yellow coreopsis and many other native wildflowers.

With over 175 miles of coastline, you may want to explore this pacific wonderland in a kayak. Schools of graceful dolphins chase schools of anchovies, frolicsome otters float on their backside crunching down a gourmet meal of fresh crab and thousands of barking sea lions and loafing elephant seals loiter on Bennet Beach on San Miquel Island. Scuba dive or snorkel through some of the most scenic kelp beds in the world. For more information regarding this impressive destination, enjoy this video narrated by Kevin Costner.

For an unforgettable adventure, include the Channel Island national park and/or Sequoia and Kings Canyon national park on your travel bucket list. If you want to find out what to wear while on vacation, check out this our blog of ours.

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