Map of California's Protected Areas

This interactive map shows the Locations, Names, Areas, and Details of National Parks, State Parks, National Forests, Tribal, and other Public Lands of California. It also shows major cities and rivers for context. For more detail, zoom in. For more information, hover over the map, or scroll down.

Lake or River
National Park Service
California Dept. of Parks and Recreation
U.S. Forest Service
Fish and Wildlife Service
Tribal Lands
Bureau of Land Management
Department of Defense
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers


Called The Golden State because of the Gold Rush in the 1800s, California is an economic powerhouse and a center of population.

Crops Central Valley California

California is the most populous state in the United States, with 40 million people.

With 58 counties and about 1,000 miles of coastline, this is a state of contrasts. In California, you can go surfing, skiing, hiking in forested mountains, or go for a stroll in the desert.

California's climate could be described as mild. This is thanks to the California current that comes from Alaska. Cool maritime air masses moderate the heat from the desert.

California's Natural and Protected Areas

The Golden State's geography is the perfect setting for an incredible array of parks and natural areas for visitors to enjoy.

California has 9 National Parks, more than any other state. They are not just beautiful; they are also quite diverse, scenic, and some of the most accessible in the country!

Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park

Besides the National Parks, the National Park Service manages Wilderness Areas, Recreation Areas, Preserves, and others. These areas are represented in red on the map above.

California's National Parks are:

  • Channel Islands
  • Death Valley
  • Joshua Tree
  • Lassen Volcanic
  • Lava Beds
  • Pinnacles
  • Redwood
  • Sequoia & Kings Canyon
  • Yosemite

If all these National Parks are not enough, California has over 200 areas managed as State Parks. California's state park system is one of the biggest and most diverse park systems in the U.S. The state parks are represented in lime green on the map above.

California also has 20 National Forests. These forests are mainly located in the Cascades and in the Sierra Nevada. National Forests and Wilderness Areas managed by the USFS are represented in dark green on the map.

The Bureau of Land Management oversees 15 million acres of public lands in California, about 15% of the Golden State’s total landmass. Because of their use, these lands are not just for conservation and recreation. They are also used for foresting, mining, and grazing.

California's Best National Parks

Making a list of California's best Parks could be limited to just its National Parks. Nevertheless, this list tries to include other designations and protected areas that may be enjoyed by visitors.

These are California's most-searched parks and natural areas on Google trends.

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks are located east of Fresno and are represented in red on the map above.

The main attraction of this park is the giant sequoias, the largest tree in the world.

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park, General Sherman

Besides their size, sequoias stand out from other trees by their red and orange bark color, which is different from other gray and brown tree trunks.

These giants grow between 4,000 and 8,000 feet (1,219 and 2,438 m) in elevation along the west slope of the Sierra Nevada. These are not the oldest trees, but they can live around 3,400 years.

Sequoia groves are mixed conifer forests with giant sequoias. These mixed groves allow for a more visually striking experience.

Giant Forest is one of the many groves tourists can visit. This grove has the largest sequoias, including General Sherman, the largest one of all.

Sequoias are not just carbon sinks and an attraction for visitors. Their tree rings are a valuable record of climate fluctuations in the past.

Given their location, sequoias have evolved with fire. Their bark protects the trees against fires, and it is not rare to see trees with scars from past blazes.

Fires are also important as they promote seedlings to grow. Bare and barren mineral soil, left by fires, is indispensable for sequoia seeds to germinate. Sequoia.

For an unforgettable vacation near Sequoia and Kings Canyon, VRBO has the place for you. With over 400 vacation rentals in the area, you can plan your perfect trip. For more information, click here!

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree is a desertic environment east of Los Angeles. This park is characterized by its granite monoliths and boulder formations.

This is a rainshadow desert as the mountains block the rain from reaching this area.

Daily high and low temperatures can vary as much as 50°F (28°C).

Joshua Tree has two recognizable desert ecosystems, Colorado and Mojave.

For a tranquil stay with breathtaking & uninterrupted desert landscape and mountain vistas, VRBO has a beautiful property within 5minuts of the park. To get reservation GO HERE!

If you just want to check flights type them below, Expedia can help.

Joshua Tree National Park

Mojave Desert

The western half of Joshua Tree National Park ranges from 2,000 to 5,000 feet (609m-1,524m) in elevation.

The desert receives about 3-5 inches (76.2-127mm) of rain annually, most of which occurs during the winter.

The Mojave Desert has a slightly cooler climate than the Colorado Desert and is also recognized by the Joshua Trees (Yucca brevifolia) native to this region.

Colorado Desert

The eastern half is part of the Colorado Desert, also part of the Sonoran Desert. This is one of the aridest regions in North America.

It is characterized by low elevations (<2,000 feet or <609m), hotter temperatures, and less rainfall than the Mojave Desert.

The Colorado Desert may appear barren but it supports a greater diversity of plants and animals than the Mojave desert. Nevertheless, the Joshua Tree is absent here.

Pinyon Pine and Juniper Zone

There is also a third ecosystem in the park. It is at high elevations, and it hosts pinyon pine and juniper trees. This woodland provides shelter and shade in the highest mountains. Source: USGS.

Joshua Tree Wildlife

Not much wildlife is visible during the daytime since most of its inhabitants are nocturnal. Most of them are active after dark.

Some of Joshua Tree's inhabitants include coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, golden eagles, and the Mojave Desert Tortoise.

If your interest is geared toward the stars, this park was recently designated as an International Dark Sky Park.

For detailed maps of deserts in California, Amazon has California Desert National Parks. The pack includes three maps that cover the Joshua Tree, Death Valley, and Mojave National Preserve.

Redwood National and State Parks

Redwood National Park

Redwood is along the Pacific Coast and close to the Oregon border.

This unique site is the partnership between 3 state parks, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, plus Redwood National Park.

Redwood's weather is moderated by the Pacific Ocean, with temperatures ranging from 50°F to 60°F (10°C to 15°C). Summers are dry, and winters are rainy.

These parks are recognized for having the tallest trees in the world, the massive coastal Redwood. Visitors can also see mosses ferns and the scenic coastline of northern California.

The best hike in the park is Tall Trees Grove. This grove is home to the tallest tree, Hyperion, with 379 feet (115m). Source: Redwood.

You can stay in a cozy cabin 12mi from Redwood National Park. At Emerald Forest Cabins you will be inside a forest with the amenites of comfortable home. To book go to Expedia.

Death Valley National Park

Situated east of Fresno, close to the border with Nevada, this is a park of extremes.

Death Valley has recorded the hottest temperature on Earth, 134°F (57°C).

Death Valley National Park

Death Valley is also the driest U.S. National Park; in addition, it features the lowest elevation in North America with -282ft (86m).

Death Valley is an adventure waiting for visitors to experience. There are majestic dunes, slot canyons, salt flats, and rocky peaks for visitors to explore.

Despite being a desert, Death Valley has more than 1,000 plant species, from ancient bristlecone pines to spring wildflowers.

This plant diversity is thanks to 11,000 feet (3,352m) of elevation change.

The park is also known for spectacular spring blooms. Nevertheless, they don't occur every year. Perfect conditions allow for this event to happen and lure visitors. Source: Death Valley.

For a fun experience in California and its parks, you can get this guide found on Amazon. Moon California Hiking: The Complete Guide to 1,000 of the Best Hikes in the Golden State. It has a hike for everyone, coastal walks, and challenging backcountry treks, with options ranging from easy day hikes to multi-day backpacking trips.

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen volcanic National Park is one of California's most visited National Parks. One could describe it as a smaller version of Yellowstone.

The park is capped by 10,462-foot Lassen Peak, the world’s largest volcanic dome.

The park offers miles of trails, among volcanic and hydrothermal features.

In winter, the park is known to turn into a winter wonderland!

Califirnia's Most Popular State Parks

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park

West of Fresno, on the western slope of the Santa Lucia Mountains, right by the Pacific Coast, is Pfeiffer Big Sur.

Visitors enjoy walking by the banks of the Big Sur River, redwoods, conifers, sycamores, cottonwoods, alders, oaks, maples, willows, open meadows, and waterfalls.

The park has no access to the beach, but visitors may find some ocean views. The main attraction is the nature trails for hikers to explore. Source: Big Sur.

Crystal Cove State Park

Crystal Cove is just south of Los Angeles by the Pacific Coast. This park has a Mediterranean climate, foggy summer mornings, warm days, and cool evenings.

Crystal Cove State Park has rolling surf, sandy beaches, tidepools, sloping hills, deeply wooded canyons, and ridges.

Crystal Cove is visited by hikers, swimmers, and surfers. Source: Crystal Cove.

For flights, hotels, prices, and dates, don't hesitate to check Expedia. It has incredible packages to visit Los Angeles!

Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Located just south of San Jose, by the California Coast, on the Santa Cruz Mountains. This is California's oldest state park.

The biggest attraction of the park is the Redwood trees. The trees may be 305 feet (93m) tall, 50 feet (15m) round, and even 1,500 years old!

The park also has mixed conifer, oaks, chaparral, and riparian habitats. Source: Big Basin.

Red Rock Canyon State Park

North of Los Angeles, is a lime green speck on the southernmost tip of the Sierra Nevada.

This scenic park has desert cliffs, buttes, and rock formations. Visitors enjoy viewing the dramatic shapes and lively colors.

The park has different canyons with distinctive features.

Like other sites in the state, this park blooms after winter with spring rains. Source: Red Rock.

California's State Park List

This list includes California's State Parks and Natural Areas organized by county.

AlamedaAlbany State Marine Reserve
Bethany Reservoir State Recreation Area
Lake Del Valle State Recreation Area
Robert W. Crown Memorial State Beach
Eastshore State Park
Emeryville Crescent State Marine Reserve
Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Area
AlpineGrover Hot Springs State Park
AmadorIndian Grinding Rock State Historic Park
ButteBidwell Mansion State Historic Park
Butte City Project
Clay Pit State Vehicular Recreation Area
Lake Oroville State Recreation Area
Bidwell-Sacramento River State Park
CalaverasCalaveras Big Trees State Park
ColusaColusa-Sacramento River State Recreation Area
Contra CostaCowell Ranch/John Marsh State Historic Park
Franks Tract State Recreation Area
Mount Diablo State Park
Del NorteDel Norte Coast Redwoods State Park
Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park
Pelican State Beach
Tolowa Dunes State Park
El DoradoD. L. Bliss State Park
Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point State Park
Emerald Bay State Park
Lake Valley State Recreation Area
Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park
Washoe Meadows State Park
Auburn State Recreation Area
Folsom Lake State Recreation Area
FresnoMillerton Lake State Recreation Area
HumboltAzalea State Natural Reserve
Benbow Lake State Recreation Area
Fort Humboldt State Historic Park
Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park
Harry A. Merlo State Recreation Area
Humboldt Lagoons State Park
Humboldt Redwoods State Park
John B. Dewitt Redwoods State Natural Reserve
Little River State Beach
Patrick’s Point State Park
Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park (Fern Canyon)
Richardson Grove State Park
Trinidad State Beach
ImperialHeber Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area
Picacho State Recreation Area
Salton Sea State Recreation Area
Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area
KernFort Tejon State Historic Park
Red Rock Canyon State Park
Tomo-Kahni State Historic Park
Tule Elk State Natural Reserve
LakeAnderson Marsh State Historic Park
Clear Lake State Park
Los AngelesAntelope Valley California Poppy Reserve
Antelope Valley Indian Museum State Historic Park
Arthur B. Ripley Desert Woodland State Park
Castaic Lake State Recreation Area
Dockweiler State Beach
Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area
Los Angeles State Historic Park
Los Encinos State Historic Park
Malibu Creek State Park
Malibu Lagoon State Beach
Pio Pico State Historic Park !Pío Pico State Historic Park
Placerita Canyon State Park
Rio de Los Angeles State Park
Robert H. Meyer Memorial State Beach
Saddleback Butte State Park
Santa Monica State Beach
Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park
Topanga State Park
Verdugo Mountains
Watts Towers of Simon Rodia State Historic Park
Will Rogers State Beach
Will Rogers State Historic Park
Hungry Valley State Vehicular Recreation Area
Leo Carrillo State Park
MaderaWassama Round House State Historic Park
MarinChina Camp State Park
Marconi Conference Center State Historic Park
Mount Tamalpais State Park
Olompali State Historic Park
Samuel P. Taylor State Park
Tomales Bay State Park
Angel Island State Park
MariposaCalifornia State Mining and Mineral Museum
MendocinoAdmiral William Standley State Recreation Area
Caspar Headlands State Beach
Caspar Headlands State Natural Reserve
Greenwood State Beach
Hendy Woods State Park
Jug Handle State Natural Reserve
MacKerricher State Park
Mailliard Woods State Natural Reserve
Manchester State Park
Mendocino Headlands State Park
Mendocino Woodlands State Park
Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve
Navarro River Redwoods State Park
Point Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park
Reynolds Wayside Campground
Russian Gulch State Park
Schooner Gulch State Beach
Smithe Redwoods State Natural Reserve
Standish-Hickey State Recreation Area
Van Damme State Park
Westport-Union Landing State Beach
Sinkyone Wilderness State Park
MercedGeorge J. Hatfield State Recreation Area
Great Valley Grasslands State Park
McConnell State Recreation Area
San Luis Reservoir State Recreation Area
Pacheco State Park
MonoBodie State Historic Park
Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve
MontereyAndrew Molera State Park
Asilomar State Beach
Carmel River State Beach
Fort Ord Dunes State Park
Garrapata State Park
Hatton Canyon
John Little State Natural Reserve
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
Limekiln State Park
Marina State Beach
Monterey State Historic Park
Monterey State Beach
Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park
Point Lobos Ranch
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve
Point Sur State Historic Park
Fremont Peak State Park
Salinas River State Beach
Zmudowski State Beach
Moss Landing State Beach
NapaBale Grist Mill State Historic Park
Bothe-Napa Valley State Park
Robert Louis Stevenson State Park
NevadaEmpire Mine State Historic Park
Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park
South Yuba River State Park
Donner Memorial State Park
Orange CountyBolsa Chica State Beach
Corona del Mar State Beach
Crystal Cove State Park
Doheny State Beach
Huntington State Beach
San Clemente State Beach
Chino Hills State Park
PlacerBurton Creek State Park
Kings Beach State Recreation Area
Tahoe State Recreation Area
Ward Creek Project
PlumasPlumas-Eureka State Park
Riverside CountyCalifornia Citrus State Historic Park
Indio Hills Palms
Lake Perris State Recreation Area
Mount San Jacinto State Park
San Timoteo Canyon
Wildwood Canyon
Sacramento CountyBrannan Island State Recreation Area
California State Capitol Museum
California State Railroad Museum
Delta Meadows
Folsom Powerhouse State Historic Park
Governor’s Mansion State Historic Park (closed to the public)
Leland Stanford Mansion State Historic Park
Old Sacramento State Historic Park
Prairie City State Vehicular Recreation Area
State Indian Museum
Stone Lake
Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park
San BenitoHollister Hills State Vehicular Recreation Area
San Juan Bautista State Historic Park
San BernardinoProvidence Mountains State Recreation Area
Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area
San DiegoBorder Field State Park
Cardiff State Beach
Carlsbad State Beach
Cuyamaca Rancho State Park
Leucadia State Beach
Moonlight State Beach
Old Town San Diego State Historic Park
Palomar Mountain State Park
San Elijo State Beach
San Onofre State Beach
San Pasqual Battlefield State Historic Park
Silver Strand State Beach
South Carlsbad State Beach
Tijuana Estuary
Torrey Pines State Beach
Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
San FransiscoCandlestick Point State Recreation Area
San JuquinCaswell Memorial State Park
San Luis ObispoCayucos State Beach
Estero Bluffs State Park
Harmony Headlands State Park
Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument
Hearst San Simeon State Park
Los Osos Oaks State Natural Reserve
Montana de Oro State Park
Morro Bay State Park
Morro Strand State Beach
Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area
Pismo State Beach
San MateoAno Nuevo State Park
Bean Hollow State Beach
Burleigh H. Murray Ranch
Butano State Park
Gray Whale Cove State Beach
Half Moon Bay State Beach
Montara State Beach
Pacifica State Beach
Pescadero State Beach
Pigeon Point Light Station State Historic Park
Point Montara Light Station
Pomponio State Beach
Portola Redwoods State Park
San Bruno Mountain State Park
San Gregorio State Beach
Thornton State Beach
Santa BarbaraChumash Painted Cave State Historic Park
El Capitán State Beach
El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park
Gaviota State Park
La Purísima Mission State Historic Park
Point Sal State Beach
Refugio State Beach
Carpinteria State Beach
Santa ClaraHenry W. Coe State Park
Castle Rock State Park
Santa CruzBig Basin Redwoods State Park
Castro Adobe
Forest of Nisene Marks State Park
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
Lighthouse Field State Beach
Manresa State Beach
Natural Bridges State Beach
New Brighton State Beach
Santa Cruz Mission State Historic Park
Seacliff State Beach
Sunset State Beach
Twin Lakes State Beach
Wilder Ranch State Park
ShastaAhjumawi Lava Springs State Park
Castle Crags State Park
McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park
Shasta State Historic Park
SolanoBenicia Capitol State Historic Park
Benicia State Recreation Area
SonomaAnnadel State Park
Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve
Austin Creek State Recreation Area
Fort Ross State Historic Park
Jack London State Historic Park
Kruse Rhododendron State Natural Reserve
Petaluma Adobe State Historic Park
Salt Point State Park
Sonoma State Historic Park
Sonoma Coast State Park
Sugarloaf Ridge State Park
StanislausTurlock Lake State Recreation Area
SutterSutter Buttes State Park
TehamaWilliam B. Ide Adobe State Historic Park
Woodson Bridge State Recreation Area
TrinityWeaverville Joss House State Historic Park
TulareColonel Allensworth State Historic Park
TuolumneColumbia State Historic Park
JamestownRailtown 1897 State Historic Park
VenturaEmma Wood State Beach
Mandalay State Beach
McGrath State Beach
Point Dume State Beach
Point Mugu State Park
San Buenaventura State Beach
YoloWoodland Opera House State Historic Park

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Resources for California's Protected Areas Map

The shapefiles with California's state boundary lines, major rivers, and cities were downloaded from Natural Earth Data.

The Parks and Public Lands shapefiles for California were downloaded from USGS.

This map will be updated with new data! To receive updates on this and more nature maps, join my email list!!!!!!!

Made by Luz K. Molina with D3.js.

Map of California's state parks, national parks, forests, and public lands areas

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