| |

8 Spectacular California State Parks

Are you looking for new state parks in California to check out during the new season? I’m right there with you! Here are 8 Spectacular California State Parks I recommend if you are searching for new places to hike, photograph or are just looking for a different location to see for the first time.

Disclaimer: I sometimes include products for my readers. If you buy through links on this page, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you, I thank you for your support.

1) Fort Ord Dunes State Park

Fort Ord Dunes State Park is in Marina and is located in Monterey County. This location used to be an old military base along the coast, which opened to the public as a state park in 2009. Fort Ord extends to about 4 miles of coastline; here, you’ll get sights of sand dunes and hiking trails that lead you to the ocean. It is an excellent place for kids to play on the dunes; dogs are not allowed near the ocean or hiking trails leading to the beach. This location is best to visit when the coast is warmer in the spring and summer.

Fort Ord Dunes SP

2) Henry Cowell State Park

If you are looking for a state park to see those amazing redwood trees of California, you have to visit Henry Cowell State Park. This state park is located in Felton, and there are numerous trails to hike throughout the forest where you will see a grove of old-growth coast redwoods. This location is great for exploring, hiking, and biking, and they also have a campground. This state park is great to visit all year except when heavy rain is expected.

Henry Cowell Redwoods SP

3) Forest of Nisene Marks State Park

The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park is located in Aptos, in the Santa Cruz Mountains. This place is great for hiking because you are surrounded by so much wilderness on every corner. There are creeks, waterfalls, redwood trees, and stunning views of Santa Cruz throughout the trails. This park is great to visit all year round, and on days when there is light rain, this forest is lush and green, filled with many flowing waterfalls.

Read [ 15 Best Redwood Hikes in NorCal] to find more locations to see redwood trees throughout the Bay Area and beyond!

Hiking Essentials for Your Next Adventure

Shop on Amazon

Forest of Nisene SP

4) Castle Rock State Park

Castle Rock State Park is in Los Gatos along the crest of the Santa Cruz Mountains. The views at the top of Douglas fir trees are spectacular! What attracts people here are not only hikers but also climbers. Throughout the trails, you see sandstones with unique patterns, making it ideal for bouldering and rock climbing. The best time to visit this park is all year round, but I highly recommend going early in the morning when there are fewer people.

Castle Rock SP

5) Angel Island State Park

This state park is unique because it is located on an island. Angel Island State Park is in the San Francisco Bay. To get there, you have to take a ferry, there are two places you can take one from Golden Gate or Tiburon. Things to see are a historical immigration station, or you can hike to Mount Livermore which offers spectacular views of San Francisco on a clear day. There is also a place for camping, reservations are required. The best time to visit is typically any time of the year, but I suggest going in the spring and summer seasons when it is a bit less windy for enjoyment.

Angel Island SP

6) Calaveras Big Trees State Park

Calaveras Big Trees State Park is one of the prettiest and most spectacular state parks located in Arnold. What makes this park so different than many others is that you will find two groves of giant sequoias – the world’s largest trees. You will also see the Stanislaus River and natural meadows in the park. Check out the best hiking trails to hike at Calaveras Big Trees State Park, where you can visit both the North and South Groves. The best time to visit the park is in the summer and fall seasons, although you can go in the spring and winter, you are most likely to find many of the trails closed due to snow.

Calaveras Big Trees SP

7) Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park

One of the most secluded state parks I have visited in California has been Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park, this park is found in Nevada City in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. It is home to the largest hydraulic gold mine and has a lot of history from the Gold Rush era. On your visit, you should stop by the visitor center and check out the historical buildings. There are campsites, caves, waterfalls, and several hiking trails where you can see huge cliffs carved by jets of water used as a gold-mining technique that washed entire mountains away to find gold. The best times to visit this location are in the summer, spring, and fall seasons. In the winter months it varies due to snow, so make sure to check ahead.

Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park

8) Grover Hot Springs State Park

Another unique and low-key state park to visit is Grover Hot Spring State Park in Markleeville. This beautiful site is known for its swimming pool complex that holds a regular pool and a hot spring pool that is fed by natural hot springs in the park. There are also several hiking trails and a campground for overnight stays. This location suffered a lot of damage from the Tamarack Fire in 2021, so it is slowly starting to open again. Although many parts of the park remain closed, I would save this state park for later.

Grover Hot Springs SP

Your Thoughts: What is your favorite California State Park?

This post was about 8 Spectacular California State Parks. Which state parks have you been to or plan to visit? I really hope you get to visit these spectacular state parks in California, which I highly recommend.

Follow on Instagram Dina DeLeon

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *