California is a gorgeous state on the west coast that is home to all manner of scenery, from sparkling beaches to giant redwood trees. A visit to one of the local state parks is an amazing way to experience it for yourself – here are six state parks to visit this winter that won’t disappoint.
1. Anza Borrego Desert State Park
This gorgeous park is located in southern California, about an hour and thirty minutes outside of San Diego. Its desert location makes winter one of the best times to visit. While temperatures can soar well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer, a winter visit will mean you can expect to be looking at a much more reasonable range of 60-70 degrees during the day.
The park is home to some unique draws, including gorgeous palm tree oases. It also offers a wide variety of hiking trails that are suitable for most skill levels. Heading to the nearby town of Borrego Springs can offer some additional activities, including checking out art galleries and local shops.
2. Humboldt Redwoods State Park
This California state park is home to some of the largest trees in the country – the iconic redwood trees. You’ll want to carve out at least a little time to drive down the Avenue of Giants – a 32-mile road lined by the giant trees implied in its name.
If you’re looking for a quick hike or only have limited time to spend in the area, the trail through Founder’s Grove is a little over a mile and an excellent choice. For those wanting to spend more time exploring the area, Burlington Campground is open year-round; temperatures can get chilly at night, though, so you’ll want to bring a warm coat and sleeping bag.
3. Red Rock Canyon State Park
Not to be confused with Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in Nevada, this stunning California park is home to jaw-dropping, colorful rock formations. Sitting at the southern edge of the Sierra Nevadas, this is a great choice for winter exploration, thanks to mild temperatures – usually hovering in the low 60s. The park is home to a variety of hiking trails, as well as wildlife – this is a great choice for both photographers and hikers alike.
4. Pfieffer Big Sur State Park
If you’re looking for some awe-inspiring scenery, look no further than Pfieffer Big Sur State Park. This beautiful park features scenic views of not only the ocean but also a stunning cove that features a sparkling waterfall. It should be noted that there isn’t access to the beach directly from the state park itself – the cliffs in the park make for beautiful views but also make approaching the water unsafe.
There’s still plenty to do, though, including a variety of trails. If you’re looking for a quick way to get some fresh air, check out the .7-mile nature trail. If you’re looking for more of a challenge, the 3-mile-long Buzzard’s Roost offers both decent elevation gain – 750 feet or so – and beautiful ocean views.
5. Crystal Cove State Park
This serene state park is not only home to a gorgeous beach but also some unique historical elements in the form of a series of coastal cottages that are among the few remaining examples of coastal development from their time period.
It may be a bit chilly to do much swimming with a winter visit – temperatures hover in the low 70s in the winter – however, you can look forward to a far less crowded park while exploring the shore, backcountry trails, and the historic district.
6. Prairie Creek State Park
Humboldt Redwoods isn’t the only state park to see some gorgeous redwood trees. Prairie Creek State Park is home to not only some beautiful, ancient trees, though, but also a wide variety of opportunities for outdoor activity and some truly otherwordly looking scenery. You may find Fern Canyon familiar looking, for example, thanks to it being featured in one of the Jurassic Park movies.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com