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        Also see Northern California National Parks and  Central California National Parks

California National Parks - Southern California

Channel Islands, Mojave, Santa Monica Mts, Joshua Tree, CabrilloThe National Park Service overseas 23 different National Parks in California -- 5 of which are located in Southern California.  The state's National Parks offer visitors a wide variety of adventures - from historical and cultural experiences, to natural wonders which cannot be seen anywhere else on earth. 

For more details about each of the specific national parks in Southern California (directions, hours, fees, history, things to do, maps, etc.), click on the park name or picture below to view the official National Park Service site for that particular park.

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Southern California National Parks

Southern California National Parks, San Diego, CACabrillo National Monument (San Diego) - Only 9 miles from San Diego's city center, the Cabrillo National Monument covers less than one square mile, near the southern end of Point Loma (a narrow spur of land jutting out into the Pacific Ocean).  From this vantage point, visitors are treated to spectacular views of San Diego Bay, wildflower-covered hillsides, whale watching, an historic lighthouse and tide pools along a beautiful and rocky coastline. The monument itself commemorates the arrival of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, who, in 1542, was the first European to set foot on the west coast of the US. Small and less well-known than the other national parks, the convenient location and temperate climate ensure a stream of visitors year-round.

Southern California National Parks, Ventura, CAChannel Islands National Park (Ventura, Near LA) - The coastal mountains of the Channel Islands offer a view into to the past that spans more than 12,000 years of history. The park includes the 5 islands (Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, San Miguel, Santa Barbara) as well as their surrounding ocean environment. The park preserves and protects a wealth of natural and cultural resources - unique animals, plants, and archaeological resources found nowhere else on Earth. Even a brief visit will expose visitors to the environment's diversity, beauty and richness - leaping dolphins, undulating kelp, flowering Coreopsis, scampering mice and soaring bald eagles.

Southern California National Parks, Death Valley, CADeath Valley National Park (Death Valley, CA & NV) - Hottest, Driest, Lowest! Death Valley is a land of extremes.  It is a desert of pristine sand dunes, snow-capped mountains, multi-colored rock layers, fluted canyons and 3 million acres of stone wilderness.   Badwater Basin, the lowest, hottest point in both North American and the entire Western Hemisphere (282' below sea National Parks in Southern CA, Death Valleylevel), is located in Death Valley - just 80 miles from Mt. Whitney (in Sequoia National Park), the highest peak in the continental US. Many of the features in Death Valley remind us of the troubles and misfortunes endured by the pioneers who first traversed and mined this region during last half of the 1800's. But today, you might be surprised to find unparalleled beauty - amazingly colorful rock formations and canyons; miles of fascinating sand dunes; unique salt features; and a wide range of wildlife.

National Parks in Southern CA, Twentynine PalmsNational Parks in Southern CA, Twentynine PalmsJoshua Tree National Park (Headquarters in Twentynine Palms) - There is no spectacular central attraction at this desert park - just many square miles of stark and beautiful desert scenery. Three factors are most noteworthy: the densely growing, eerily spiky Joshua trees; the extensive out-crops of huge granite boulders (up to 100 feet high); and the 6 oases where California fan palm trees grow in their natural surroundings.  In order to experience the richness of this environment, visitors must get out of their cars and explore, climb rocks, walk among the trees and cacti - and definitely spend a night to watch the sun set and the awesome starry nights.

National Parks in Southern CA, BarstowMojave Natural Preserve (Headquarters in Barstow) - The Mojave Preserve is a remote 1.6 acre park located between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. The nearest major towns are almost 2 hours drive away.  However, the park contains many places of interest, and the desert has a stark beauty of its own, which has to be experienced in-person to be fully appreciated. In addition to 4 large military bases you'll find: sand dunes, canyons, mountains and mesas; ghost towns, homesteads and long-abandoned mines; volcanic craters and lava; Joshua tree forests; historic sites; carpets of wildflowers; various unusual geological features; and even a diverse range of wildlife. 

National Parks in Southern CA, Thousand Oaks, Los Angeles AreaSanta Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (Thousand Oaks) - Located west of Griffith Park, the Santa Monica Mountains rise above Los Angeles, forming a beautiful and multi-faceted landscape. The recreation area protects some of the most significant examples of terrestrial National Parks in Southern CA, Thousand Oaks, Los Angeles AreaMediterranean-type ecosystems and coastal marine environments anywhere in the world. The unique climate, along with the diverse topography has created a landscape filled with magnificent natural resources. There are over 1,000 plant species that provide living space for more than 500 mammal, bird, reptile and amphibian species.

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