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Ultimate Fall Road Trip Through California’s National Parks

  • Holiday Travel Tips
  • Vincent Meyers
  • 7 minutes

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It’s that time of the year already! With fall just around the corner, you may be wondering where to go next. The best way to make the most of the weather is to hit the road. A road trip through the California National Parks and nature reserves may just be the thing for you. Gather up your loved ones and make memories that will last a lifetime. If you’re planning a road trip across California, here‘s all you need to know about the state’s national parks.  

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We hope you’ll remember that we suggested starting your road trip in the fall. If you plan a road trip to California’s national parks, you may save on entrance fees by purchasing an annual pass ($80). Since you’ll visit numerous national parks, getting this package is a no-brainer. Most prices are $20–$35 to enter. Families with children in fourth grade or younger get free national park access with the ‘Every Kid in a Park’ card.


Joshua Tree National Park  

Purple sunset and rising moon in Joshua Tree National Park, USA

In Joshua Tree National Park, you can see the overlapping of two desert ecosystems, the Mojave and the Colorado. Moreover, this land shaped by powerful winds and occasional torrential rain is home to a remarkable array of plant and animal life. This immense wilderness in southern California is awe-inspiring for many reasons, including its night sky, rich cultural past, and unique geologic characteristics. Above all, hiking, camping, photography, rock climbing, and simply taking in the tranquil desert environment are some activities that may be enjoyed at Joshua Tree National Park.  

The park is constantly accessible and open all year round. The number of visitors rises as the weather cools in the fall, peaks in the spring, and declines throughout the sweltering summer.  

Death Valley National Park  

Death valley

At 3,422,024 acres, Death Valley is the biggest National Park in the United States. There are about a thousand kilometers of highways, both paved and unpaved, that connect various cities and towns. However, the park’s administration has decided to preserve 93% of the land as wilderness. Deep and winding canyons, swirling sand dunes, spring-fed oasis towns, and harsh mountains up to 11,000 feet in elevation in this wild land.   

Death Valley is a huge national park with hundreds of miles of backcountry roads and over three million acres of protected wilderness. The park is home to an incredible array of flora, fauna, and topography, making it perfect for nature explorers of all stripes.  

Channel Islands National Park  

Channel Islands National Park

A trip to the Channel Islands is a test of self-reliance and planning. On the islands, no amenities like grocery stores or places to rent equipment are available. The Channel Islands National Park offers a relaxing break from the hustle and bustle of city life. The islands are ideal for a peaceful retreat with friends or family. Certainly, they’re fantastic locations for hiking, camping, snorkeling, kayaking, birdwatching, taking pictures, sketching, or simply unwinding to the peaceful sounds of nature.  

The park is open all year long. Ventura and Santa Barbara tourist centers are closed on Thanksgiving and December 25.  

Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park  

Sequoia National Park Giant TreesSequoia and Kings Canyon

Basically, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are two separate entities, and they are managed as one. The world’s largest tree, the General Sherman Tree, and the contiguous United States’ highest peak, Mt. Whitney, may both be seen from Sequoia. The trail to Tokopah Falls is four miles long and generally shaded, with views of granite and the surrounding forest. Moro Rock is another fantastic option for families because of the amazing vistas it provides, but beware, the path to the top is rather steep.  

Kings Canyon National Park has the largest remaining grove of sequoia trees in the world and landscapes reminiscent of Yosemite Valley. There are also wonderful things to do at King’s Canyon. Hiking among the park’s enormous sequoias on Congress Trail or Grant’s Grove is a popular activity. Visitors also enjoy driving through a fallen giant sequoia at Tunnel Log. Young adventurers will love Zumwalt Meadows for its rock scrambling, suspension bridge, and picture-perfect setting against soaring canyon cliffs. The 1.5-mile trek also provides access to the Kings River, making it an ideal picnicking location.  

Yosemite National Park  

Beautiful view of yosemite national park at sunset in California

Yosemite National Park will surround you with breathtaking natural beauty, unending wildness, towering cliffs, and wonderful tranquility, inspiring a spirit of exploration in you. A vacation through the national parks of California isn’t complete without a stop at this tourist attraction. Yosemite National Park is a popular tourist destination in California due to its stunning scenery and granite cliffs. Yosemite Valley is the most crowded part of the park, yet it should be your first stop. You may find Yosemite’s most well-known attractions, including Vernal Falls, Bridalveil Falls, and Yosemite Falls. Additionally, you can find the world’s tallest Granite Monolith, El Capitan, and the Tunnel View Outlook.   

The area is perfect for outdoor pursuits, including biking, rafting, and hiking.  

Pinnacles National Park  

pinnacles national park

Pinnacles National Park, California, was declared a national park in 2013 and is the newest of all of California’s national parks. The large, rounded spires formed by volcanic activity are responsible for giving Pinnacles its name. If you don’t like crowds, this could be the best park in California for you to visit.   

No road connects the park’s eastern and western halves, separated by a lake. The Moses Spring Trail and the Bear Gulch Cave Trail are two of the most well-known destinations for family outings in the east. Another option for families exploring talus caves is the 2.4-mile-long Balconies Cave loop on the western side. Climbers of all skill levels also frequent this park section because of the availability of several rock-climbing routes. In Pinnacles, visitors may go rock climbing, hiking, animal watching, wildflower viewing, and more.   


Pinnacles National Park is a year-round destination, although it is at its busiest in the winter. Spring is the finest time to go hiking since the grass is green, and many wildflowers can be seen.  

Lassen Volcanic National Park  

Lake near Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen Volcanic National Park has several volcanoes, steaming fumaroles, flower-filled meadows, and crystal-clear alpine lakes. The jagged hills are evidence of the terrain being shaped by volcanic eruptions, and the hot water is still at work now.   

Bumpass Hell, one of the most visited paths, passes through Lassen’s greatest hydrothermal region, where visitors may get an up-close look at the boiling mud pots and superheated turquoise pools. Due to its remoteness, it is also one of the least frequented parks in the state.  

Since most of the trees in Lassen are evergreen, the fall foliage there is not very noteworthy. Manzanita Lake, Hat Meadow, the Devastated Area, and the valleys in the Southwest Area are popular places to view fall foliage.  

Redwood National and State Park  

Redwood National and State Parks

Redwood National Park is a sizable network of interconnected state parks and the surrounding lands. Many world-famous, towering redwood trees may be seen in the NPS-affiliated Prairie Creek, Jedediah Smith, and Del Norte State Parks. 

Jurassic Park 2 and Jurassic World were filmed at Fern Canyon, making it the most well-known hike in the area. You’ll feel like you’ve returned in time as you make your way through this canyon’s thick vegetation. Other well-liked choices are the Cathedral Trail Loop and the Boy Scout Tree Trail.  

The tallest trees on Earth are found in Redwood. The Parks also include extensive grasslands, oak woods, wild rivers, and more. Since the beginning of time, people have inhabited this lush setting. The parks’ Pacific Coast location makes them ideal canoeing, bicycling, fishing, and horse-riding destinations.  

Read more: A Halloween Music Playlist for Your Fall Road Trip


Taking a road trip through the national parks in California may be the best decision you make all year. It’s a great way to bond with family and friends. This is the period when people need to get out and do things like exploring the great outdoors and going on exciting adventures the most. Have fun and be careful out there on the road. 

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