California State Parks & Beaches

California State Parks Guide

California has 265 state parks. These parks represent the beauty and diversity of California in 1.3 million acres of historic sites, buildings, culturally significant areas, natural and ecologically sensitive lands as varied as wetlands, deserts, and majestic redwood forests, recreational areas, and a host of plants and animals found nowhere else on earth.

The huge variety of state parks offers tremendous outdoor recreation opportunities. Popular activities include swimming, surfing, sunning, windsurfing, and sailing, at state beaches. There are opportunities for touring historic mansions and pioneer forts, whale watching and bird watching, hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. In the winter months, cross-country skiing is possible at some of the high elevation parks.

California’s state parks are scattered throughout the state. The state has been divided into 13 travel regions. The state parks have been divided into these regions.

Division Map

Thanks to California’s mild climate, most state parks are open year-round. From March to May, beautiful wildflowers grace desert and foothill parks. Summer temperatures range from 90+ in the Sacramento and Central Valleys to a cool and foggy 50 in San Francisco. The mildest weather statewide occurs in the fall. Rain begins in late autumn and continues through winter in most areas. Winter brings snow at higher elevations, particularly in the Sierra Nevada and other mountain regions. Desert regions remain warm during winter months.

 

Orange County State Parks and Beaches

Orange County’s state park sites all lie along the coast. Cliff’s line the beaches here, which are characterized by broad, level expanses of sand. This area is a beach lover’s paradise. Nature preserves which draw bird-watchers, wooded canyons, and bike trails are also of interest.

  • Bolsa Chica State Beach– Bolsa Chica State Beach is a popular place for surf fishing for perch, corbina, croaker, cabezon and sand shark.
  • Corona Del Mar State Beach– The community of Corona del Mar, California, lies on the South Coast, between Newport Beach and Laguna Beach. The half-mile long sandy beach, which forms the east entrance to Newport Harbor, is framed by cliffs and a rock jetty. The beach is popular with surfers and divers.
  • Crystal Cove State Park– Crystal Cove State Park has 3.5 miles of beach and 2,000 acres of undeveloped woodland, which is popular for hiking and horseback riding. The offshore waters are designated as an underwater park.
  • Doheny State Beach– Doheny State Beach is located at Dana Point in Southern California. It consists of 62 acres of land at the mouth of San Juan Creek. A wide, white-sand beach and five-acre, shaded lawn hold most of the facilities within the park.
  • Huntington State Beach– Huntington State Beach is the site of a nesting sanctuary for the California least tern, a rare and endangered species. The beach is also a sanctuary for the threatened snowy plover.
  • San Clemente State Beach- San Clemente State Beach is popular with surfers on the north end of the one-mile beach. Other popular activities are skin diving for abalone and spiny lobster and hiking along the trails on the bluffs.
Orange County State Parks and Beaches
Orange County State Parks and Beaches

 

Desert Region State Parks and Recreation Areas

  • Anza-Borrego Desert State Park– With over 600,000 acres, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is the largest state park in the contiguous United States. The park features washes, wildflowers, palm groves, cacti, and sweeping vistas.
  • Heber Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area– Heber Dunes SVRA is composed of 343 acres of land that was part of the Imperial County Park System. It is primarily used for off-road recreation, however, camping, picnicking, and baseball are also popular activities in the park.
  • Indo Hills Palms State Park– Here, along a line where the San Andreas fault captures groundwater that nurtures the palms, is a 2,206-acre wild parkland containing some fine palm groves, including Hidden, Pushawalla, Briska, Macomber, and Horseshoe palms.
  • Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area- Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area is adjacent to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Ocotillo Wells has over 42,000 acres of desert terrain, from below sea level to 400-foot elevations.
  • Pacheco State Park– Pacheco State Park is the last remaining section of the 1843 Mexican land grant of Francisco Pacheco. In the middle of the 19th century, the Pacheco family’s land holdings extended to nearly 150,000 acres.
  • Providence Mountains State Recreation Area– Providence Mountains State Recreation Area has broad valleys full of cactus, creosote bush, sand dunes, cinder cones and dramatic mountain ranges in the eastern Mojave Desert.
  • Red Rock Canyon State Park– Red Rock Canyon State Park features scenic desert cliffs, buttes, and spectacular rock formations. The park is located where the southernmost tip of the Sierra Nevada converges with the El Paso Range.
  • Salton Sea State Recreation Area– One of the world’s largest inland seas, the Salton Sea was created by accident when a dike broke during the construction of the All-American Canal in 1905. This 360 square-mile basin is a popular site for boaters, water-skiers, and anglers.
Desert Region State Parks and Recreation Areas
Desert Region State Parks and Recreation Areas

 

Inland Empire State Parks and Recreation Areas

  • California Citrus State Historic Park– This unique 400-acre historic park recaptures the time when “Citrus was King” in California, recognizing the importance of the citrus industry in southern California.
  • Chino Hills State Park– Nestled in the hills north of Santa Ana Canyon and in the middle of urban southern California, Chino Hills State Park offers trails for hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians.
  • Lake Perris State Recreation Area– Formed by Perris Dam, Lake Perris offers a variety of water recreation, including swimming, fishing (shore, pier, and boat), boating, sailing, water-skiing, and a special area for scuba diving.
  • Mount San Jacinto State Park– Most of Mount San Jacinto State Park is wilderness, containing three mountain peaks, higher than 10,000 feet in elevation. The mountain’s high points offer spectacular views of nearby desert and mountain ranges.
  • Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area– Silverwood Lake was formed by the 249-foot Cedar Springs Dam. At 3,350 feet, it is the highest reservoir in the State Water Project.
Inland Empire State Parks and Recreation Areas
Inland Empire State Parks and Recreation Areas

 

Shasta-Cascade Area State Parks and Recreation Areas

  •  Ahjumawi Lava Springs State Park– This unique park northeast of Redding is accessible only by boat. An island made of old lava flows sits in the midst of Big Lake. The park offers excellent hiking, fishing (trout and bass) and a breathtaking view of Mount Shasta.
  • Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park– Bidwell Mansion State Historic Park was the home of pioneers General John and Annie Bidwell. Bidwell wealth came from the California goldfields. General Bidwell was a social activist, congressman and a leading grower.
  • Bidwell-Sacramento River State Park– Visitors can enjoy fishing, boating and picnicking at Bidwell-Sacramento River State Park. With 180 acres, including four miles of river front, the park serves as an access point for river rafters, canoeists and kayakers.
  • Castle Crags State Park– The park is named for 6,000-feet glacier-polished crags. It offers swimming and fishing in the Sacramento River, hiking in the backcountry, and a view of Mount Shasta
  • Clay Pit State Vehicular Recreation Area– Clay Pit State Vehicular Recreation Area provides good beginner terrain for off-road enthusiasts.
  • Lake Oroville State Recreation Area– This man-made lake was formed by the tallest earth-filled dam (770 feet above the stream bed of the Feather River) in the country. Encompassing approximately 28,450 acres near the City of Oroville.
  • McArthur-Burney Falls State Park– The park is within the Cascade Range and Modoc Plateau natural region, with 910 acres of forest and five miles of streamside and lake shoreline, including a portion of Lake Britton.
  • Shasta State Historic Park– In 1849, Shasta, the “Queen City” of northern mines in the Klamath Range, served as the main shipping point for supplies and money between the mines and San Francisco.
  • Sierra Plumas Eureka State Park– Established in 1959, “Plumas” (as it is commonly known by State Park folks and visitors alike) has been providing a bit of California’s history, scenic beauty and recreational opportunity to thousands of visitors for many years.
  • Weaverville Joss House State Historic Park– The Temple of the Forest Beneath the Clouds” is the oldest continuously used Chinese temple in California. On display are art objects, pictures, mining tools, and weapons used in the 1854 Tong War.
  • William B. Ide Adobe State Historic Park– William B. Ide was named president of the short-lived California Bear Republic – which lasted for 22 days. The adobe memorial to him is located in a picnic area overlooking the Sacramento River.
  • Woodson Bridge State Recreation Area– Woodson Bridge State Recreation Area is nestled in oak woods flanking both sides of the Sacramento River.
  Shasta-Cascade Area State Parks and Recreation Areas
Shasta-Cascade Area State Parks and Recreation Areas

 

Mendocino Woodlands State Park

Mendocino Woodlands State Park sits in the heart of the redwood forest, nine miles east of Mendocino. The park and its 200 buildings, originally located on 5,000 acres, were built by hand by unemployed skilled workers of the Federal Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps. The Park is a tribute to their dedication and skill and to a government that responded to the physical and spiritual needs of its people in a desperate time. Buildings throughout the Park feature walls of old-growth redwood, hand-hewn beams, and hand-crafted stone fireplaces.

 

Central Coast State Parks and Beaches

Andrew Molera State Park
Asilomar State Beach
Carmel River State Beach
Carpinteria State Beach
Cayucos State Beach
Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park
El Capitan State Beach
El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park
Emma Wood State Beach
Fremont Peak State Park
Garrapata State Park
Gaviota State Park
Hearst Castle
Henry W. Coe State Park
Hollister Hills State Vehicular Recreation Area
Hungry Valley State Vehicular Recreation Area
Julia Pfeifer Burns State Park
Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area
La Purisima Mission State Historic Park
Limekiln State Park
Los Osos Oaks State Reserve
Manresa State Beach
Marina State Beach

McGrath State Beach
Montana de Oro State Park
Monterey State Beach
Monterey State Historic Park
Morro Bay State Park
Morro Strand State Beach
Moss Landing State Beach
New Brighton State Beach
Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area
Pacheco State Park
Pfeifer Big Sur State Beach
Pismo State Beach
Point Lobos State Reserve
Point Mugu State Park
Point Sur State Historic Park
Refugio State Beach
Salinas River State Beach
San Juan Bautista State Historic Park
San Simeon State Park
Sea Cliff State Beach
Sunset State Beach
Wilder Ranch State Park
William Randolph Hearst Memorial State Beach
Zmudowski State Beach

Central Coast State Parks and Beaches
Central Coast State Parks and Beaches

 

San Francisco Bay Area State Parks, Historic Sites, and Beaches

Angel Island State Park
Ano Nuevo State Reserve
Benicia Capital State Historic Park
Benicia State Recreation Area
Bethany Reservoir State Recreation Area
Big Basin Redwoods State Park
Butano State Park
Candlestick Point State Recreation Area
Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area
Castle Rock State Park
China Camp State Park
Forest of Nisene Marks State Park
Gray Whale Cove State Beach
Half Moon Bay State Beach
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
Lake del Valle State Recreation Area
Manresa State Beach
Montara State Beach

Mount Diablo State Park
Mount Tamalpais State Park
Natural Bridge State Beach
New Brighton State Beach
Olompali State Historic Park
Pacifica State Beach
Pescadero State Beach
Pigeon Point Light Station State Historic Park
Portola Redwoods State Park
Robert W. Crown Memorial State Beach
Samuel P. Taylor State Park
San Bruno Mountain State Park
San Gregorio State Beach
Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park
Sea Cliff State Beach
Sunset State Beach
Tomales Bay State Park
Twin Lakes State Beach
Wilder Ranch State Park

San Francisco Bay Area State Parks, Historic Sites and Beaches
San Francisco Bay Area State Parks, Historic Sites and Beaches

 

San Diego County State Parks and Beaches

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Border Field State Park
Cardiff State Beach
Carlsbad State Beach
Cuyamaca Rancho State Park
Old San Diego State Historic Park
Palomar Mountain State Park

San Elijo State Beach
San Onofre State Beach
San Pasqual Battlefield State Historical Park
Silver Strand State Beach
South Carlsbad State Beach
Torrey Pines State Beach
Torrey Pines State Preserve

San Diego County State Parks and Beaches
San Diego County State Parks and Beaches

 

North Coast State Parks and Beaches

Admiral William Standley State Recreation Area
Anderson Marsh State Historic Park
Annadel State Park
Armstrong Redwoods State Reserve
Austin Creek State Recreation Area
Azalea State Reserve
Bale Grist Mill State Historic Park
Benbow Lake State Recreation Area
Bothe-Napa Valley State Park
Caspar Headlands State Beach
Caspar Headlands State Reserve
Clear Lake State Park
Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park
Fort Humbolt State Historic Park
Fort Ross State Historic Park
Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park
Harry A. Merlo State Recreation Area
Hendy Woods State Park
Humbolt Lagoon State Park
Humbolt Redwoods State Park
Jack London State Historic Park
Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
Jug Handle State Reserve
Kruse Rhododendron State Reserve

Little River State Beach
MacKerricher State Park
Manchester State Park
Mendocino Headlands State Park
Montgomery Woods State Reserve
Navarro River Redwoods State Park
Patrick’s Point State Park
Pelican State Beach
Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park
Prairie Creek Redwood State Park
Richardson Grove State Park
Robert Louis Stevenson State Park
Russian Gulch State Park
Salt Point State Park
Schooner Gulch State Beach
Sinkyone Wilderness State Park
Smithe Redwoods State Reserve
Sonoma Coast State Beach
Sonoma State Historic Park
Standish-Hickey State Recreation Area
Sugarloaf Ridge State Park
Trinidad State Beach
Van Damme State Park
Westport-Union Landing State Beach

North Coast State Parks and Beaches
North Coast State Parks and Beaches

 

Los Angeles County State Parks and Beaches

Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve
Arthur B Ripley Desert Woodland State Park
Castaic Lake State Recreation Area
Dockweiler State Beach
Hungry Valley State Vehicular Recreation Area
Leo Carrillo State Beach
Los Encinos State Historic Park
Malibu Creek State Park
Pio Pico State Historic Park

Robert H. Meyer Memorial State Beach
Saddleback Butte State Park
Santa Monica State Beach
Santa Susana State Historic Park
Topanga State Park
Verdugo Mountains State Park
Watts Towers of Simon Rodia State Historic Park
Will Rogers State Beach
Will Rogers State Historic Park

Los Angeles County State Parks and Beaches
Los Angeles County State Parks and Beaches

 

High Sierra State Parks and Recreation Areas

Bodie State Historic Park
Burton Creek State Park
Calaveras Big Trees State Park
D.L. Bliss State Park
Donner Memorial State Park
Emerald Bay State Park
Grover Hot Springs State Park

Kings Beach State Recreation Area
Lake Valley State Recreation Area
Mono Lake Tufa State Recreation Area
Sugar Pine Point State Park
Tahoe State Recreation Area
Washoe Meadows State Park
Wassama Round House State Historic Park

High Sierra State Parks and Recreation Areas
High Sierra State Parks and Recreation Areas

 

Gold Country State Parks, Historic Parks, and Recreation Areas

Auburn State Recreation Area
California State Capitol Museum
Columbia State Historic Park
Empire Mine State Historic Park
Folsom Lake State Recreation Area
Folsom Powerhouse State Historic Park

Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park
Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park
Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park
Prairie City State Vehicular Recreation Area
Railtown 1897 State Historic Park
South Yuba River State Park
Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park

Gold Country State Parks, Historic Parks and Recreation Areas
Gold Country State Parks, Historic Parks and Recreation Areas

 

Central Valley State Parks and Recreation Areas

Brannan Island State Recreation Area
Caswell Memorial State Park
Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park
Colusa-Sacramento River State Recreation Area
Fort Tejon State Historic Park
George J. Hatfield State Recreation Area
Indian Grinding Rock State Historic Park

McConnell State Recreation Area
Millerton Lake State Recreation Area
Pacheco State Park
San Luis Reservoir State Recreation Area
Tule Elk State Reserve
Turlock Lake State Recreation Area
Woodland Opera House State Historic Park

Central Valley State Parks and Recreation Areas
Central Valley State Parks and Recreation Areas