15 Best Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park 2023
Table of Contents
- 1. Crystal Cove State Park
- 2. Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
- 3. Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
- 4. Emerald Bay State Park
- 5. Castle Crags State Park
- 6. Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
- 7. Empire Mine State Historic Park
- 8. Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
- 9. Morro Bay State Park
- 10. McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park
- 11. Mendocino Headlands State Park
- 12. Bodie State Historic Park
- 13. Salt Point State Park
- 14. Grover Hot Springs State Park
- 15. Hearst San Simeon State Park
- More related articles on Wonder-Planet.net
California’s state parks offer a lifetime of adventure with ocean breezes, spectacular waterfalls, and towering mountain peaks. Outnumbering California’s best national parks, these public spaces are popular for activities such as hiking, camping, fishing, and diving, as well as simply marveling at the stunning nature on display. Whether for weekend adventures or extended California road trips, California state parks starkly contrast with the busy cities surrounding them.
Some of California’s most visited state parks, like Julia Pfeiffer Burns and Henry Cowell Redwoods, get international attention for a good reason. Other natural spaces like Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and Historic Bodie State Park receive special designations for their unique landscapes. Whether Emerald Bay, Mendocino Headwaters, or Castle Crags, nearly every state park in California lives up to its inspiring name.
Camping is available at most California state parks, allowing for the multi-day adventures needed to see all these unique environments offer. From fanning waterfalls and magnificent boulders to elaborate castles and ghost towns in a state of “arrested decay,” many treasures are waiting to be discovered in California’s state parks. For visiting California state parks during the winter, places like Grover Hot Springs and Castle Crags State Park provide year-round attractions.
Start planning your outdoor adventures with our list of the best state parks in California.
Note: Some businesses may be temporarily closed due to current global health and safety issues.
1. Crystal Cove State Park
Off the Pacific Coast Highway between Corona Del Mar and Laguna Beach, Crystal Cove State Park encompasses miles of sandy beach and a vast stretch of inland desert. The access and enormity of natural space at Crystal Cove are rare in Southern California. Among beachgoers and backcountry hikers, this state park is one of the most popular in the state. Weekend activities at Crystal Cove often include scuba diving, surfing, and watching sunsets from the cliffside camp.
Address: 8471 N Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, California
Official Site: http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=644
2. Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
Where the Santa Lucia Mountains meet the Pacific Ocean, Big Sur is an approximately 90-mile stretch of rugged coastline with numerous state parks and natural attractions. Perhaps the best example of Big Sur’s mountains, redwood forests, and dramatic coastline is Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. The 80-foot McWay Falls inside Julia Pfeiffer Burns, plummeting from a rocky slope into the ocean, is a must-see natural feature of the region.
Numerous other state parks surround Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, including Cauldron and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, which is also home to some of the best camping in the area. Other nearby postcard-worthy examples of Big Sur’s beauty include Pfeiffer Beach, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, and Bixby Bridge. Numerous bypasses line Highway 1 through Big Sur, offering ample opportunity for ocean views and the occasional whale watch.
Address: 52801 California State Route 1, Big Sur, California
3. Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
Home to many of Santa Cruz’s best hiking trails, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park is less than five miles from the city. Coupled with this proximity to Santa Cruz and the Pacific Ocean, Henry Cowell is an international destination thanks to the towering redwoods within its borders. Encompassing more than 4,600 acres, including the Fall Creek Day Use Unit, Henry Cowell offers endless ways to enjoy the giants that helped fuel a conservation movement in California.
For an added attraction of big trees, Big Basin Redwoods State Park is located approximately twenty miles northwest of Henry Cowell. Big Basin Redwoods State Park, the oldest state park in California and home to several of the best campgrounds near Santa Cruz, features redwood hiking trails and lush canyons teeming with life. The Redwood Loop Trail is a must-hike for the whole family during your visit.
Address: 101 N Big Trees Park Road, Felton, California
4. Emerald Bay State Park
Emerald Bay State Park is home to many of the best campgrounds in South Lake Tahoe; Emerald Bay State Park encompasses its particular slice of California’s most scenic lake. Named for the shallow blue-green waters in the southwest corner of Lake Tahoe, Emerald Bay offers stunning lakeside camping, hiking, and unique cultural features like the 38-room Vikingsholm castle.
Designated as an underwater state park, California’s first maritime heritage trail traces the sunken ships and vessels at the bottom of Emerald Bay.
Address: 138 Emerald Bay Road, South Lake Tahoe, California
5. Castle Crags State Park
Accessible from Redding with a one-hour drive, the 6,000-foot granite spires of Castle Crags draw tourists from around the world to this state park in Northern California. With more than 25 miles of trails that run through the base of these spectacular mountain monuments, the park is also home to one of the best day hikes on the Pacific Crest Trail, which passes through Castle Crags with great views of Castle Dome across the road.
Camping at Castle Crags is a popular adventure base with over 75 sites.
Address: 20022 Castle Creek Road, Castella, California
6. Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
California’s largest state park, Anza-Borrego, encompasses more than 600,000 acres near the California-Mexico border. Visiting Anza-Borrego Desert State Park requires preparation for navigating the rugged terrain, mainly of pristine wilderness, including slot canyons, palm-lined springs, and an abundance of springtime wildflowers. The nation-encompassing Pacific Ridge Trail passes through Anza-Borrego, and numerous interpretive trails provide other hiking opportunities.
Address: 200 Palm Canyon Drive, Borrego Springs, California
7. Empire Mine State Historic Park
Showcasing the rich history of the 19th -Central California Gold Rush, Empire Mine State Historical Park preserves one of the most prosperous gold mines in the state. At the park’s heart is a collection of preserved buildings dating from when the mine was in operation, including a machine shop, clubhouse, and the entrance to the mine’s now-flooded shafts. Fourteen miles of hiking trails stem from the preserved village and are filled with interpretive information and artifacts.
For more information on the California Gold Rush, Marshall Gold Discovery State Historical Park is the first place visitors should go. At the location of California’s first gold discovery, about an hour east of present-day Sacramento, this historic site spawned the mass migration of fortune seekers that were part of the California Gold Rush.
At the State Historical Park, visitors can learn more about the events at the Gold Discovery Museum and see for themselves the land that changed the nation.
Address: 10791 E Empire Street, Grass Valley, California
8. Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
Encompassing over 10,000 acres and a significant portion of the last remaining ancient redwood forests, this redwood state park is full of giants. There are no roads through the central core of Jedediah Smith State Park, named after the -century explorer of the region, but 20 miles of trails lead through the vast, lush environment. Campgrounds and cabins are available at Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park for overnight visits.
Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park is part of a cooperative management agreement between the National Park Service and California State Parks. Both North Shore and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Parks to the south are part of this agreement, as is Redwoods National Park. Together, Redwood National and State Parks welcome millions of visitors worldwide to marvel at the grandeur of these ancient trees.
Address: Crescent City, California
9. Morro Bay State Park
Part of what makes Morro Bay one of the best small towns in California is Morro Bay State Park on its southern border. This state park also boasts a picture-postcard marina, an 18-hole golf course, and a seaside Museum of Natural History, offering great views of Morro Rock and the surrounding bay. Camping at Morro Bay State Park allows for tents and RVs, and the park is also close to other scenic areas, including Montaña de Oro State Park.
Address: 60 State Park Road, Morro Bay, California
10. McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park
On the bank of Lake Britton in the Cascade Mountains of Northern California, this popular state park is often visited thanks to the spring-fed waterfall within its borders. Visitors can park at the visitor center or hike the Burney Creek Trail field to see the 129-foot Burney Falls fanning from a cliff. The Pacific Ridge Trail makes a prominent stop next to the falls, and five miles of other hiking trails run through the park.
Address: 24898 CA-89 Scenic, Burney, California
11. Mendocino Headlands State Park
Surrounding the coastal town of Mendocino in Northern California, Mendocino Headlands State Park borders the historical community to the endless waves of the Pacific Ocean. Providing multiple angles of the ocean environment, a scattering of trails leads along the park’s bluff setting and connects to the adjacent community.
Visitors can access an estuarine climate and tidal areas at the Big River Beach drive of the state park.
The entire Mendocino waterfront is surrounded by other great state parks worth visiting. North of town, Russian Gulch State Park boasts unique tidal features, including Devil’s Punchbowl and a Fern Canyon hiking trail leading to a cascading waterfall. South of Mendocino, Van Damme State Park offers a similar natural attraction and campground, as well as an intriguing pygmy forest.
12. Bodie State Historic Park
A ghost town in the Sierra Nevada mountains outside of Yosemite National Park, Bodie State Historical Park has remained untouched since the last gold miners left in the 1940s. Numerous furnishings and artifacts stay within the public spaces of this well-preserved ghost town, giving visitors a sense of stepping back into the city’s Wild West past.
Special Bodie Ghost Walks take place throughout the year, providing the opportunity also to see the star-filled night sky of this day-use state park.
Address: CA-270, Bridgeport, California
13. Salt Point State Park
Ten miles north of the equally impressive Sonoma Coast State Park on Highway 1, Salt Point State Park offers spectacular ocean views and plenty of inland trails to explore. Salt Point’s six miles of beachfront property is lined with sandstone rocks and pounding waves, popular with beachgoers, abalone divers, and sunset photographers.
More than 20 miles of trails stretch through the rest of the park, connecting to interior elements, including two campgrounds and a visitor center.
Address: 25050 CA-1, Jenner, California
14. Grover Hot Springs State Park
On the eastern flank of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the hot springs of this state park have drawn visitors for thousands of years. Today, as one of the best hot springs in California, the state park collects the heated groundwater from six springs into a large bathing area for the public to enjoy.
Special day-use fees apply when you want to dip, and the state park hosts a nearby campground with more than 75 sites available.
Address: 3415 Hot Springs Road, Markleeville, California
15. Hearst San Simeon State Park
Stretching twenty miles along the California coast north of San Luis Obispo, this unique state park offers unobstructed views of the rugged coastline. Along with great views of the ocean and a great vantage point for an elephant seal colony, the state park also provides access to the fantastic Hearst Castle, a National Historic Landmark, and a stunning piece of architecture. Guided tours of the great halls, pool areas, and zoo are available seven days a week.
15 Best Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park 2023