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Best State Parks In California

California has so many beautiful destinations to visit, and our State Park System helps preserve and protect our state’s extraordinary biological diversity and natural resources to ensure they last for generations to come. There is so much to explore here in the Golden State, from Redwood Forests and Historic Sites to pristine coastal regions and vast deserts. Whether you’re looking to escape the bustle of the city, or a destination for off-highway vehicle recreation, California State Parks have something for you. Here are some of the best State Parks in California.

Best State Parks In California

Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve

Address: 15101 Lancaster Rd., Lancaster, CA 93536
Phone: 661-724-1180

The Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve is open sunrise to sunset every day, year round. But the best time to visit is during late winter and early spring when the wildflowers are in full bloom! During superblooms the park can get very crowded, and it is often windy, but seeing our state flower blanketing the hillsides is a pretty amazing sight to see.

Anza Borrego Desert State Park

Address: 200 Palm Canyon Drive, Borrego Springs, CA 92004
Park Headquarters: 760-767-5311
Visitor Center: 760-767-4205

Anza Borrego Desert State Park is the largest State Park in California coming in at over 600,000 acres. The park spans San Diego County to Imperial County and stretches from Riverside County to the Mexican Border. Anza Borrego Desert State Park is best for hiking, biking, horseback riding, camping, seasonal wildflower viewing, wildlife viewing.

Chino Hills State Park

Discovery Center Parking Area: 4500 Carbon Canyon Road, Brea, CA 92823
Bane Canyon Road Entrance: 4721 Sapphire Road, Chino Hills, CA 91709
Phone: 714-524-2471

Chino Hills State Park is a natural, open space area that provides access corridors for wildlife to migrate between wilderness areas. There are beautiful trails to explore, the Historic Rolling M Ranch, and camping opportunities. Chino Hills State Park is also a popular spot for viewing wildflowers. The park is best for camping, hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking.

Crystal Cove State Park

Address: 8471 N. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA 92651
Phone: 949-494-3539

Crystal Cove State Park is one of the largest remaining examples of natural seashore and open space in Orange County. It features historic beach cottages that date back to the early 1900s, 3.2 miles of beach, an offshore State Marine Conservation Protected Area, campgrounds, and 2,400 acres of backcountry wilderness. Crystal Cove State Park is best for beach activities, snorkeling and diving, tidepooling, hiking, and camping.

Cuyamaca Rancho State Park

Address: 13652 Highway 79, Julian, CA
Phone: 760-765-3020

Cuyamaca Rancho State Park sits about 40 miles east of San Diego. While many state parks have designated park entrances, Cuyamaca is laid out a bit differently, with many trailheads situated along Highway 79, some with large parking lots, and some with minimal roadside parking. The park itself is comprised of oak and conifer forests and expansive meadows. Cuyamaca Rancho State Park is best for hiking, horseback riding, and camping.

Doheny State Beach

Address: 25300 Dana Point Harbor Drive, Dana Point, CA 92629
Phone: 949-496-6171

Doheny State Beach is California’s first State Beach. It is one of the state’s most popular state beaches, attracting around one million visitors annually. Located in Dana Point, this is a popular spot for surfing and camping. There is an aquarium at the visitor center, tide pools to explore, and hiking and biking trails.

Hearst San Simeon State Park

Address: 500 San Simeon Creek Road, Cambria, CA 93428
Phone: 805-772-6101

One of the oldest parks in the California State Park System, Hearst San Simeon State Park is comprised of pristine coastal bluffs and rocky seashore. It includes the Santa Rosa Creek Natural Preserve, the San Simeon Natural Preserve, and the Pa-nu Cultural Preserve. Notably, Hearst San Simeon is the unique home to an elephant seal rookery. It is just a few miles from Hearst San Simeon State Historic Monument Visitor Center, and Hearst Castle. Hearst San Simeon State Park is best for boating, wildlife viewing, camping, and hiking and biking.

Mount San Jacinto State Park

Address: Idyllwild Entrance & Park Headquarters – 25905 Highway 243, Idyllwild, CA 92549; Long Valley Ranger Station Via Palm Springs Aerial Tramway – 1 Tramway Road, Palm Springs, CA 92262
Phone: 951-659-2607/760-327-0222

Mount San Jacinto offers 14,000 acres of wilderness to explore via backcountry trails. You’ll climb peaks and wander through meadows. Highlights here include San Jacinto Peak at 10,834 feet in elevation and the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway ride that takes visitors to the Mountain Station entrance to the State Park. You can also access the park in Idyllwild, but you won’t get the 6,00 foot ride up the side of the mountain on this end. Mount San Jacinto State Park is best for hiking and camping.

Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

Address: 4002 Wallace Street, San Diego, CA 92110
Phone: 619-220-5422

At Old Town San Diego State Historic Park you’ll step into California’s past with restored and reconstructed buildings converted into shops, museums, and restaurants that pay homage to life in the community between 1821 and 1872. Old Town San Diego Historic Park is best for learning about the community through living history, hiking, picnicking, and shopping.

Palomar Mountain State Park

Address: 19952 State Park Road., Palomar, CA 92060
Phone: 760-742-3462

Palomar Mountain State Park is located east of San Diego at an elevation of 5,000 feet. Visitors are immersed in a Sierra-Nevada-like atmosphere with beautiful forests and meadows with pine trees, firs, and cedars. The majority of the 1800+ acres of this park is covered with coniferous forest. Highlights here include the magnificent hiking trails, campgrounds, the historic weir, Doane Pond, Boucher Hill Summit and the Boucher Hill Fire Lookout. Palomar Mountain State Park is best for hiking and camping (mountain bikes are not allowed on trails here).

Redwood State Parks

There are a whopping 49 state parks dedicated to preserving the coastal redwood forests and giant sequoias. Locations for these parks span from Humboldt County near the northern California border to Big Sur on the central coast. These state parks protect about 140,000 acres of forest. Learn more about the Redwood State Parks locations and details.

San Onofre State Beach

Phone: 949-492-4872

With over 2 million visitors annually, San Onofre State Beach is one of Southern California’s most popular coastal destinations. The rocky bluffs and sandy beaches are perfect for a day out, and the swells here are a favorite for surfers. This is a prime destination for camping with its bluff top campgrounds, so you’ll have to be sure to make reservations well in advance. San Onofre State Beach is best for camping, beach activities, and surfing.

Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park

Address: 2701 L Street, Sacramento, CA 95816
Phone: 916-445-4422

Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park is located in Sacramento and marks the first permanent European Colonial Settlement in the Central Valley. Visitors can explore the adobe fort built in 1840, and the sawmill where gold was discovered in 1848. There are regular living history events here. Sutter’s Fort is best for education and learning about California’s history.

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve & State Beach

Address: 12600 North Torrey Pines Road, San Diego, CA 92037
Phone: 858-755-2063

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve & State Beach are some of San Diego’s most visited destinations. It is the site of the nation’s rarest pine tree – it now only grows here and on Santa Rosa Island. The reserve has trails for exploring, or you can head to the beach and enjoy a day there. Torrey Pines is best for hiking, nature and wildlife viewing, and beach activities.

Find The Best National Parks In California

List of California State Parks

  • Admiral William Standley State Recreation Area
  • Ahjumawi Lava Springs State Park
  • Albany State Marine Reserve
  • Anderson Marsh State Historic Park
  • Andrew Molera State Park
  • Angel Island State Park
  • Ano Nuevo State Park
  • Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve State Natural Reserve
  • Antelope Valley Indian Museum State Historic Park
  • Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
  • Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve
  • Arthur B. Ripley Desert Woodland State Park
  • Asilomar State Beach
  • Auburn State Recreation Area
  • Austin Creek State Recreation Area
  • Azalea State Natural Reserve
  • Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park
  • Bean Hollow State Beach
  • Benbow State Recreation Area
  • Benicia State Recreation Area
  • Benicia Capitol State Historic Park
  • Bethany Reservoir State Recreation Area
  • Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park
  • Bidwell-Sacramento River State Park
  • Big Basin Redwoods State Park
  • Bodie State Historic Park
  • Bolsa Chica State Beach
  • Border Field State Park
  • Bothe-Napa Valley State Park
  • Brannan Island State Recreation Area
  • Burleigh H. Murray Ranch Park Property
  • Burton Creek State Park
  • Butano State Park
  • Butte City Project Park Property
  • Calaveras Big Trees State Park
  • California Citrus State Historic Park
  • California Indian Heritage Center Park Property
  • California State Capitol
  • California State Mining and Mineral Museum Park Property
  • California State Railroad Museum Point of Interest
  • Cambria State Marine Park
  • Candlestick Point State Recreation Area
  • Cardiff State Beach
  • Carlsbad State Beach
  • Carmel River State Beach
  • Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area
  • Carpinteria State Beach
  • Caspar Headlands State Natural Reserve
  • Caspar Headlands State Beach
  • Castaic Lake State Recreation Area
  • Castle Crags State Park
  • Castle Rock State Park
  • Caswell Memorial State Park
  • Cayucos State Beach
  • China Camp State Park
  • Chino Hills State Park
  • Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park
  • Clay Pit State Vehicular Recreation Area
  • Clear Lake State Park
  • Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park
  • Columbia State Historic Park
  • Colusa-Sacramento River State Recreation Area
  • Corona del Mar State Beach
  • Crystal Cove State Park
  • Cuyamaca Rancho State Park
  • D. L. Bliss State Park
  • Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park
  • Delta Meadows Park Property
  • Dockweiler State Beach
  • Doheny State Beach
  • Donner Memorial State Park
  • Eastern Kern County Onyx Ranch SVRA – Los Osos Oaks SNR
  • Eastern Kern County Onyx Ranch State Vehicular Recreation Area
  • Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point State Park
  • El Capitan State Beach
  • El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park
  • Emerald Bay State Park
  • Emeryville Crescent State Marine Reserve
  • Emma Wood State Beach
  • Empire Mine State Historic Park
  • Estero Bluffs State Park
  • Folsom Lake State Recreation Area
  • Folsom Powerhouse State Historic Park
  • Fort Humboldt State Historic Park
  • Fort Ord Dunes State Park
  • Fort Ross State Historic Park
  • Fort Tejon State Historic Park
  • Franks Tract State Recreation Area
  • Fremont Peak State Park
  • Garrapata State Park
  • Gaviota State Park
  • George J. Hatfield State Recreation Area
  • Governor’s Mansion State Historic Park
  • Gray Whale Cove State Beach
  • Great Valley Grasslands State Park
  • Greenwood State Beach
  • Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park
  • Grover Hot Springs State Park
  • Half Moon Bay State Beach
  • Harmony Headlands State Park
  • Harry A. Merlo State Recreation Area
  • Hatton Canyon Park Property
  • Hearst San Simeon State Park
  • Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument
  • Heber Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area
  • Hendy Woods State Park
  • Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
  • Henry W. Coe State Park
  • Hollister Hills State Vehicular Recreation Area
  • Humboldt Lagoons State Park
  • Humboldt Redwoods State Park
  • Hungry Valley State Vehicular Recreation Area
  • Huntington State Beach
  • Indian Grinding Rock State Historic Park
  • Indio Hills Palms Park Property
  • Jack London State Historic Park
  • Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
  • John B. Dewitt Redwoods State Natural Reserve
  • John Little State Natural Reserve
  • Jug Handle State Natural Reserve
  • Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
  • Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area
  • Kings Beach State Recreation Area
  • Kruse Rhododendron State Natural Reserve
  • La Purisima Mission State Historic Park
  • Lake Del Valle State Recreation Area
  • Lake Oroville State Recreation Area
  • Lake Perris State Recreation Area
  • Lake Valley State Recreation Area
  • Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park
  • Leo Carrillo State Park
  • Leucadia State Beach
  • Lighthouse Field State Beach
  • Limekiln State Park
  • Little River State Beach
  • Locke Boarding House Museum Point of Interest
  • Los Angeles State Historic Park
  • Los Encinos State Historic Park
  • Los Osos Oaks State Natural Reserve
  • MacKerricher SP – Providence Mountains SRA
  • MacKerricher State Park
  • Mailliard Redwoods State Natural Reserve
  • Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park
  • Malibu Creek State Park
  • Malibu Lagoon State Beach
  • Manchester State Park
  • Mandalay State Beach
  • Manresa State Beach
  • Marconi Conference Center State Historic Park
  • Marina State Beach
  • Marsh Creek State Park State Historic Park
  • Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park
  • Martial Cottle Park State Recreation Area
  • McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park
  • McConnell State Recreation Area
  • McGrath State Beach
  • McLaughlin Eastshore State Park State Seashore
  • Mendocino Headlands State Park
  • Mendocino Woodlands State Park
  • Millerton Lake State Recreation Area
  • Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve
  • Montana de Oro State Park
  • Montara State Beach
  • Monterey State Historic Park
  • Monterey State Beach
  • Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve
  • Moonlight State Beach
  • Morro Bay State Park
  • Morro Strand State Beach
  • Moss Landing State Beach
  • Mount Diablo State Park
  • Mount San Jacinto State Park
  • Mount Tamalpais State Park
  • Natural Bridges State Beach
  • Navarro River Redwoods State Park
  • New Brighton State Beach
  • Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area
  • Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area
  • Old Sacramento State Historic Park
  • Old Town San Diego State Historic Park
  • Olompali State Historic Park
  • Pacheco State Park
  • Pacifica State Beach
  • Palomar Mountain State Park
  • Pelican State Beach
  • Pescadero State Beach
  • Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park
  • Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park
  • Picacho State Recreation Area
  • Pigeon Point Light Station State Historic Park
  • Pio Pico State Historic Park
  • Pismo State Beach
  • Placerita Canyon State Park
  • Plumas-Eureka State Park
  • Point Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park
  • Point Dume State Beach
  • Point Lobos State Natural Reserve
  • Point Lobos Ranch Park Property
  • Point Mugu State Park
  • Point Sal State Beach
  • Point Sur State Historic Park
  • Pomponio State Beach
  • Portola Redwoods State Park
  • Prairie City State Vehicular Recreation Area
  • Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
  • Providence Mountains State Recreation Area
  • Railtown SHP – Zmudowski SB
  • Railtown State Historic Park
  • Rancho San Andres Castro Adobe Park Property
  • Red Rock Canyon State Park
  • Refugio State Beach
  • Reynolds Wayside Campground
  • Richardson Grove State Park
  • Rio de Los Angeles State Park State Recreation Area
  • Robert H. Meyer Memorial State Beach
  • Robert Louis Stevenson State Park
  • Robert W. Crown Memorial State Beach
  • Russian Gulch State Park
  • Saddleback Butte State Park
  • Salinas River State Beach
  • Salt Point State Park
  • Salton Sea State Recreation Area
  • Samuel P. Taylor State Park
  • San Bruno Mountain State Park
  • San Buenaventura State Beach
  • San Clemente State Beach
  • San Elijo State Beach
  • San Gregorio State Beach
  • San Juan Bautista State Historic Park
  • San Luis Reservoir State Recreation Area
  • San Onofre State Beach
  • San Pasqual Battlefield State Historic Park
  • San Timoteo Canyon Park Property
  • Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park
  • Santa Monica State Beach
  • Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park
  • Schooner Gulch State Beach
  • Seacliff State Beach
  • Shasta State Historic Park
  • Silver Strand State Beach
  • Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area
  • Sinkyone Wilderness State Park
  • Smithe Redwoods State Natural Reserve
  • Sonoma State Historic Park
  • Sonoma Coast State Park
  • South Carlsbad State Beach
  • South Yuba River State Park
  • Standish-Hickey State Recreation Area
  • State Indian Museum State Historic Park
  • Stone Lake Park Property
  • Sue-meg State Park
  • Sugarloaf Ridge State Park
  • Sunset State Beach
  • Sutter Buttes State Park
  • Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park
  • Tahoe State Recreation Area
  • The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park
  • Thornton State Beach
  • Tijuana Estuary NP Point of Interest
  • Tolowa Dunes State Park
  • Tomales Bay State Park
  • Tomo-Kahni State Historic Park
  • Topanga State Park
  • Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
  • Torrey Pines State Beach
  • Trinidad State Beach
  • Trione-Annadel State Park
  • Tule Elk State Natural Reserve
  • Turlock Lake State Recreation Area
  • Twin Lakes State Beach
  • Van Damme State Park
  • Verdugo Mountains Park Property
  • Ward Creek Park Property
  • Washoe Meadows State Park
  • Wassama Round House State Historic Park
  • Watts Towers of Simon Rodia State Historic Park
  • Weaverville Joss House State Historic Park
  • Westport-Union Landing State Beach
  • Wilder Ranch State Park
  • Wildwood Canyon Park Property
  • Will Rogers State Beach
  • Will Rogers State Historic Park
  • William B. Ide Adobe State Historic Park
  • Woodland Opera House State Historic Park
  • Woodson Bridge State Recreation Area
  • Zmudowski State Beach

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Heidi Deal
Heidi Deal is the author of the Newcomers Handbook to Living In Los Angeles & Orange County, and a children’s book author specializing in history and human rights. When she's not writing you can find her solo hiking and going on new adventures with her kids and pup.