- Redwood National and State Parks: Acres of inconceivably massive redwood trees, up to 350 feet tall, tower over thick, lush, oversize ferns, mosses, and wild orchids in the old-growth forests along the Northern California coast. Walking through these groves is an unforgettably humbling, serene experience.
- Point Reyes National Seashore: This extraordinarily scenic stretch of coast and wetlands is one of the state's best bird-watching spots for waterfowl, shorebirds, songbirds, osprey, and red-shouldered hawks. You might even catch a glimpse of a whale from the Point Reyes Lighthouse.
- Lake Tahoe: One of the world's most magnificent bodies of fresh water, sparkling Lake Tahoe contains close to 40 trillion gallons -- enough to cover the entire state of California to a depth of 15 inches.
- Mount Shasta: The mighty volcano Mount Shasta, a solitary tower of rock and snow, rises thousands of feet above the valley floor. If you're fit, it makes for an exhilarating climb as well.
- Yosemite National Park: You're in for the ultimate treat at Yosemite. Nothing in the state -- maybe even the world -- compares to this vast wilderness and its miles of rivers, lakes, peaks, and valleys. With 3 of the 10 tallest waterfalls on Earth, the largest granite monolith anywhere, and some of the world's largest trees, Yosemite is one of the most superlative natural places on the planet.
- Big Sur: Sloping redwood forests and towering cliffs pounded by the Pacific create one of the world's most dramatic coastal panoramas.
- Channel Islands National Park: This is California in its most virginal state. Paddle a kayak into sea caves; camp among indigenous island fox and seabirds; and swim, snorkel, or scuba dive tide pools and kelp forests teeming with wildlife. The channel waters are prime for whale-watching, and winter brings elephant-seal mating season, when you'll see them and their sea lion cousins sunbathing on cove beaches.
- Joshua Tree National Park: You'll find awesome rock formations; groves of flowering cactuses and gnarly, eerily beautiful Joshua trees; ancient Native American petroglyphs; and shifting sand dunes in this desert wonderland. If you choose to camp here, you'll sleep under a brilliant night sky.
- Anza-Borrego Desert State Park: California's largest state park attracts most of its visitors during the spring wildflower season, when a kaleidoscopic carpet blankets the desert floor. Others come year-round to hike more than 100 miles of trails.
- Torrey Pines State Reserve: This pristine park is named for the rare, dramatic little species of pine that grows only here and on a tiny island off the coast. Eight miles of trails immerse hikers in a delicate and beautiful coastal environment featuring mesas, canyons, and marshes. One of San Diego's best beaches awaits at the foot of the sandstone cliffs.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.