If you’ve been craving an outdoor adventure, why not explore one of the many national parks near Los Angeles! Many of them are within a three-hour drive from L.A. Discover some exotic plants and native wildlife while hiking, camping, kayaking, or climbing in these parks.
One of the most exotic national parks near Los Angeles is Joshua Tree National Park. Only two-and-a-half hours east of Los Angeles lies this whimsical park. What draws over a million visitors per year is the mystique Joshua tree. It is the largest of the yuccas and only grows in the Mojave Desert. You have to see them for yourself to appreciate their unique beauty.Besides seeing Joshua trees up close, there are other recreational activities you can enjoy inside the park. For instance, you can rock climb at any one of the 8,000 climbing routes. The level of difficulty ranges from beginner to extreme. You can also opt to take a horseback ride through the trails. And at night you can pick out a campsite among the many options. For some leisurely entertainment, check out Pioneertown, a 1880’s-style ‘old west town.’ There you can see mock gunfights and live music events. Fun fact about Pioneertown – over 50 films and TV shows from the ‘40s and ‘50s got filmed there.
This stunning string of islands off the coast of Ventura, only two hours north of L.A., includes five islands. Their names are San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, Anacapa, and Santa Barbara. Channel Islands National Park covers 250,000 acres, and half of them lay under the ocean. Perfect for land or water lovers, these islands offer pristine beaches, diving adventures, and boating between islands. While on land, you can hike or camp at the campgrounds, there is one per island. If history is what you’re looking for, come discover the park’s 13,000 years of human history.
Hikers who visit the Channel Islands, get 360-degree views of the Pacific Ocean. And while making your climb, you’ll spot sea lions perched on one of several rock formations. Trails range in distance from two miles, to upwards of 21 miles long.
Water sports enthusiasts get to enjoy the marine sanctuary while diving and snorkeling. And the visibility reaches down to 100 feet, where you can explore underwater arches and WWII shipwrecks. Even more, you can rent a kayak and paddle through some majestic sea caves. The Channel Islands is one of the best national parks near Los Angeles.
Located three hours east of Los Angeles is the Santa Rosa and the San Jacinto Mountains National Monument. These mountains reach an elevation of 10,834 feet, offering picturesque views. With varying seasonal climates and a large diversity of landscapes, visitors can enjoy different activities all year long. The size of this national park is almost too vast to describe in words because it spans over 245 million acres of land. Needless to say, there are countless ways to enjoy the park’s offerings. Some outdoor activities include hunting, fishing, hiking the trails, and climbing.
There are no fees to enter the park, however, if you decide to stay overnight and camp, there is an $8 nightly fee. The name of the campground is Pinyon Flat and there are 18 first-come, first-served sites.
Heading south from L.A. and adjacent to San Diego, you’ll come across Cabrillo National Monument. Here you will encounter beautiful scenery and wildlife. Things to do include visiting the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, hike a trail that leads to tidepools, or whale watch.
The Old Point Loma Lighthouse is one of eight original lighthouses built in the West Coast. It’s been restored to its former glory, which captures its 1800’s style. Two of the main hiking trails in this park are Bayside Trail and Coastal Tidepool Trail. Each provides sensational views of San Diego Bay, and the second one leads you down to the tidepools. Lastly, if you come to visit from December to February, you can watch as the Pacific Gray Whale makes its annual migration. It’s a once in a lifetime experience.
Entrance fees into the park are $20 per car and $10 if you are walking or biking across. Each pass is valid for seven days. And the park is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Of all the national parks near Los Angeles, the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area is the closest. This area includes Malibu’s breathtaking beaches, several hiking trails, and Native American heritage sites. The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area protects one of the largest Mediterranean-type ecosystems in the world. More than a thousand species of plants provide a home for 500 bird, reptile, and mammal species.
A popular activity in this area is hiking. There are 500 miles of public trails spread throughout the Santa Monica Mountains. So, if you like variety and want to mix up your weekly hiking trips, this is a great place for that. You can take a flat loop or steep incline, and the trails range in length, terrain, and difficulty. Some of the best trails to get you started include Mishe Mokwa Trail to Split Rock (moderate), Solstice Canyon Trail (easy), and Cheeseboro Canyon Trail to Modelo Trail Loop (moderate). Regardless of the trail you choose, you can enjoy the peaceful, serene environment and views of the ocean.
Considering the high volume of activities in L.A., it might take a while before you carve out time to see these parks. And you might be new to L.A., or about to move there. In that case, there is so much to plan and organize. What neighborhood to live in, how to find your favorite restaurants, social spots, gym, park, or coffee shop. When you live in a Blueground apartment you get access to a Guest app. This app allows you to request maintenance, schedule a cleaning, browse neighborhood info, and even pay your rent. The convenience of this app and living in a turnkey apartment gives you time for more fun and less “to-do’s.” With more free time on your hands, you can get out and explore one of the national parks near Los Angeles.