California is more than beaches, Hollywood, and the San Francisco Bay, but it took my first solo road trip to the state’s interior to understand the wonder of California’s diverse landscapes. Driving from Lake Tahoe to Yosemite National Park, I crossed through the park’s gates for the first time, and its mountain waterfalls and lush meadows left me in awe. From here I detoured to glimpse Mono Lake, California’s salty Dead Sea, and found a natural wonder that far outweighed the glitz and glam of Santa Monica Boulevard.
This year, let the open road call your name and see the real California on an old-fashioned road trip. From the towering redwoods of the north to the rugged deserts of the south, follow this guide to explore seven California national parks. You can visit them in just one epic trip or, if the agenda doesn’t allow it, choose your favorite park and plan your next weekend getaway.
But, before, here is the map of our suggested accommodations: