California is home to some of the most diverse landscapes in the country. From the granite boulders and desert terrain of Southern California to the towering branches of the great Redwoods along the northern coast, the Golden State is ripe with adventure.
One of the best ways to experience the inspiring scenery is through California National Park tours. With so many California National Parks to visit, such as Joshua Tree, Yosemite, and Death Valley, you’re sure to find a memorable adventure that allows you to learn and discover. Are you ready to explore National Parks in California? Browse our selection of unique learning adventures below.
Highlights of California’s National Park Tours
California is home to nine national parks—more than any other state. Whether you’re looking to explore Yosemite with grandchildren or walk among giants as a solo traveler in Sequoia National Park, there are plenty of National Parks to visit in California. Take a look at the highlights of some of the best National Park trips in California below.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite was ranked among the top 10 most visited National Parks in the world, welcoming 3.2 million visitors in 2021. U.S. News ranked Yosemite the number one best National Park in the world. In the summer, hikers flock to Yosemite to hike and climb its famous peaks, including Half Dome, El Capitan, and Yosemite Falls. In the winter, visitors love the beauty of the snow-capped mountains and cross-country skiing. Don’t miss the Yosemite Museum and the Ansel Adams Gallery.
Road Scholar offers unforgettable trips through Yosemite, including The Best of Yosemite National Park, a six-day excursion discovering the national wonders.
Joshua Tree National Park
The only known home to the twisted, spikey Joshua Tree is located in the Mojave desert, East of Los Angeles. Some say there is magic and mysticism in Joshua Tree, and surely you will feel it as you stargaze the night sky. Joshua Tree is home to dozens of trails open for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and rock climbing.
Hike along the canyons and among the palm oasis with Road Scholar on our Hiking the High Desert six-day tour.
Death Valley National Park
Death Valley National Park is the largest park in the National Park system and the lowest point in America at Badwater Basin in Death Valley National Park, which is 282 feet below sea level. The landscape of Death Valley is legendary, with miles and miles of huge sand dunes, technicolor rocks and canyons, rare wildlife, and jaw-dropping peaks rising 11,000 feet.
Discover unique rock formations and ancient petroglyphs hiking on the Road Scholar’s popular tour, Hiking Death Valley and the Valley of Fire.
Channel Islands National Park
Some say that Channel Islands National Park is the Galápagos of North America, home to nearly 150 endemic species that can only be found on its five islands. Located off the coast of Ventura, Channel Islands National Park gives visitors the chance to explore ecosystems filled with unique wildlife, plants, and archeological resources.
Take a journey with local naturalists to discover all the flora and fauna of the Channel Islands on the six-day Road Scholar trip, Wildlife and Wonders of the Channel Islands.
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Lassen Volcanic National Park is famous for its hydrothermal features. Visitors come to explore steaming fumaroles, be mesmerized by plopping mud pots, walk through enchanting meadows, and hike along clear mountain lakes.
Pinnacles National Park
In Central California, you’ll find Pinnacles National Park, which was formed over 23 million years ago by multiple volcanic eruptions. Today, you’ll find tall rock spires, unique wildlife, and oak woodlands. Pinnacles is California’s youngest and smallest national park set in a remote region.
Redwood National Park
Home to the oldest and largest redwood trees in the world, Redwood National Park in Northern California is one of the best California National Park to visit. This is the place to go on wondrous hikes along beautiful trails. Here, you’ll also find 40 miles of rocky coastline and learn from indigenous cultures who’ve lived on these lands for centuries.
Join Road Scholar on one of our amazing trips to Redwood National Park, including the six-day, Hiking the Redwoods in Northern California expedition.
Sequoia National Park
The ancient sequoias in Sequoia National Park tell a rich history filled with perseverance and survival. Here, you can walk among some of the largest trees in the world. Hike ancient groves, wildlife abundant meadows, and enjoy spectacular views of the Great Western Divide.
Led by an exceptional storyteller, hear the history of Sequoia National Park on the Road Scholar’s six-day trip, National Park of the Sierra Nevada.
Kings Canyon National Park
Located next door to Sequoia National Park, Kings Canyon is filled with majestic trees, deep canyons, and world-renowned beauty. Take an expert-led exploration with Road Scholar through the Four Jewels National Parks to learn about the ecology and natural history of these tree communities.
Tips for Visiting California National Parks
California National Park tours are a great way to discover how diverse landscapes shape one of America’s largest states. If you’re looking for a National PasPark trip in California, consider these tips to ensure a stress-free trip:
- Pack snacks and water for fuel
- Dress in layers to account for varying temperature changes
- Clean up after yourself
- Respect wildlife by staying on designated trails
- Wear comfortable shoes
Book Your California National Park Trip with Road Scholar
At Road Scholar, we have a wide range of National Park vacation packages for California to choose from. Whether you’re interested in group National Park tours or National Park senior travel adventures, we have a great selection of learning adventures that allow you to learn and discover about the world’s cultures, wildlife, and history.
California National Parks Tours FAQs
How many National Parks are in California?
California is home to nine national parks—more than any other state—and each is uniquely special and beautiful. Yosemite National Park is a world heritage site with amazing rock climbing opportunities. Death Valley is big and hot and always interesting to experience. Kings Canyon & Sequoia are home to the iconic towering trees. Joshua Tree has dynamic flora, including the one-of-a-kind Joshua Tree, as well as a magical, mystical feel.
For an experience away from crowds and a taste of isolation, head to the Channel Islands. Pinnacles, Lassen, and Redwoods offer endangered species and awe-inspiring topography.
Does Road Scholar offer California National Parks tours?
Road Scholar offers many amazing trips through National Parks in California. From wildlife tours of the Channel Islands to exploring Joshua Tree, there is something for everyone who appreciates National Parks.
What is the most popular California National Park?
Yosemite is one of the most visited national parks in the entire U.S., welcoming millions of visitors per year to feast eyes on the stunning landscape.
When is the best time to visit a CA National Park?
National Parks in California can be visited year-round for something beautiful to see. In the early autumn months, the weather is still warm but not scorching hot, and the state is less crowded.
When is the least crowded time to visit National Parks in California?
The “shoulder season” is a great time to visit California’s National Parks because it is the least crowded time of the year. The shoulder season includes the months of April, May, September and October. It is a good time to enjoy California’s parks since the weather is good and crowds have mellowed out.
What are things I should pack when visiting a California National Park?
- Waterproof hiking boots
- Bug repellent
- Sunscreen and hat
- High-quality backpack for hiking and exploring
- Layers of clothing since warm days give way to chilly evenings
- Reusable water bottle
- First aid kit
Are pets allowed in the parks?
If you’re traveling with pets, double-check the park’s policy before you get there. Many parks allow pets or have kennels, but some have special rules.