The Mojave National Preserve was established by the 1994 California Desert Protection Act. The 1.6 million acre park encompasses much of the Mojave Desert. It is the third largest unit of the National Park System in the contiguous United States, as well as transitional elements of the Great Basin and Sonoran deserts. About half of the park is congressionally designed wilderness. Willderness areas, marked by signs, are open to hikers and horseback riders, but off limits to motor vehicles and bicycles.
Explore the world's largest and densest Joshua tree forest en route to a rocky peak with expansive views of Cima Dome and beyond. 3 miles round-trip. We didn't do the whole trail, but explored it a little. We had our little dog, so we didn't want him to get too many thorns in his paws, so we had to carry him off and on. Yet, he enjoyed exploring with us.
For more information: Kelso Depot Visitor Center Information, exhibits, orientation film, art gallery, bookstore, restrooms, lunch counter, water, picnic area. Hours of Operation Open daily (except Christmas Day), 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
Location From I-15: Exit Kelbaker Road at Baker, Calif. Continue 35 miles southeast on Kelbaker Road to Kelso, Calif.
From I-40: Exit Kelbaker Road (about 29 miles east of Ludlow Calif., or 28 miles west of Fenner, Calif.). Continue 22 miles north on Kelbaker Road to Kelso, Calif.
Located in Malibu and a part of the Malibu Lagoon State Park, this house is a real treat because it shows you a side of Malibu you don't often see - the historic, pre-Hollywood stars era.
The house and grounds are right on the water, located by the lagoon and near the celebrity enclave known as the Colony. The views are fantastic but as amazing as the house is, it's a little hard to focus out at the ocean.
This home was owned by a man who started as a ranch baron. When he died, his wife spent his fortune fighting the state in court. The state wanted to put a road through her extensive lands. She didn't want to share. It went all the way to the Supreme Court and she lost. So not only was she out all that money but she also ended up having the road built anyway.
Finding herself broke, she thought looking for oil on her land would solve her financial woes. She found red and white clay instead so she founded the now-famous Malibu Pottery Co. It was only around for about 5 years before it burnt to the ground during the Great Depression and was not rebuilt but in that short time, the company's amazing artistry made a real impact on Southern California style. Their tiles can still be seen around the area in places like LA City Hall. However, the very best place to see these amazing tiles is at the family house.
Inside and out, the tiles accent window panes, walls, floors, even the garage and the doggie bathtub. There are a variety of styles and their beauty is impressive. The rest of the house ain't bad either! From the curved ceilings (to mimic the ocean) to the original furnishings, this is time well-spent in Malibu especially if you're a fan of architecture and Southern California style.
It costs to park (when you're there dictates how much it costs but the machines take credit cards) and it costs $7 for a 1 hour, docent-led tour but you can just walk around the grounds (although the real treat is inside).
Old Town San Diego is considered the "birthplace" of California. San Diego is the site of the first permanent Spanish settlement in California. It was here in 1769, that Father Junipero Serra came to establish the very first mission in a chain of 21 missions that were to be the cornerstone of California’s colonization. Father Serra’s mission and Presidio were built on a hillside overlooking what is currently known as Old Town San Diego. At the base of the hill in 1820’s, a small Mexican community of adobe buildings was formed and by 1835 had attained the status of El Pueblo de San Diego.
Old Town San Diego Chamber of Commerce
2415 San Diego Avenue, Suite 107
San Diego CA 92110
Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park, located in the wartime boomtown of Richmond, California, preserves and interprets the stories and places of our nation's home front response to World War II. There is a nice monument to the women that took over jobs like building ships and planes while the men were off fighting World War II, some interesting displays and even a Victory Ship. This is an interesting piece of American History.
The Golden Gate National Recreation Area is compsed of several parts throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. I hope to visit more of them. So far I have been to Point Lobos/Lands End and Ocean Beach. Point Lobos has several points of interest and adjoins the Presidio. Ocean Beach is a nice beach near the zoo.
For more information see my Golden Gate National recreation Area Page.
John Muir was born in 1838 in Dunbar, Scotland, and emmigrated to Wisconsin with his family at the age of 11. Muir had a lifelong love of hiking and nature. This love bloomed when he came to california and saw the Yosemite area in 1868. John Muir was the first president of the Sierra Club and was involved in the establishment of the national park system. In 1880 he met and married Louisa Strentzel the daughter of a doctor. From 1882 to 1887, Muir concentrated on fruit ranching. His wife became concerned for his health and in 1890 convinced him to go back to his first love the conservation of nature. Also in 1890 Dr Strentzel died and Muir and family moved into this 14 room Italianate mansion until his death in 1914. The house has been restored and is now a National Historic Site. The furnishings also reflect this time period.
For more information see my Martinez Page.
The northern border of Lava Beds National Monument is also the southern border of the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge. You will pass two wildlife viewing points as you drive from the northern entrance to Lava Beds to the Petroglyph Section. I recommend the East Wildlife Overlook.
For more information see my Tule National Wildlife Refuge Page.
Tucked into the fairly remote Northwest corner of California is a beautiful section of land called the Smith River National Recreation Area. Smith River has a nice river and mountains offering a variety of recreational opportunuties in a beautiful setting.
The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area is just north of Los Angeles and inland from Malibu. There are lots of beautiful mountains with a variety of recreational opportunuties including some fine hiking trails.
The Salton Sea is located in the southeastern corner of California, and is actually a lake which occupies a desert basin known as the Salton Sink or Salton Basin. This body of water covers a surface area of 376 square miles, making the largest lake in California. The Sea’s current elevation is about 227 feet below mean sea level; it has a maximum depth of 51 feet. The history of the lakes or seas in the area began over 10,000 years ago. The Salton Sea was named in 1905 due to the high level of salt in the water. The Salton Sea Wildlife Refuge was established for the protection of ducks, geese and shore birds in 1930. In 1955 Salton Sea State Park was dedicated. The main part of the refuge was renamed for entertainer and congressman Sonny Bono, who was a strong advocate for the Salton Sea. In addition to the main area of the refuge the Salton Sea Wildlife Refuge also includes Unit 1 to the south and a good portion of the waterway.
One of the attractions of the Sea is the abundance of life, manifested in the hundreds of species of birds that reside in, or visit, this important wetland habitat. The Sea teems with fish. The observation deck at the main area and the one at Unit 1 offer good views of the sea without disturbing the wildlife.
There are also trails in both areas that offer a closer view of the sea and its residents. This photo shows the view from the top of Rock Hill.
If you want another view of the Salton Sea you can stop at Bombay Beach and take a look. The view is very nice. However, there are better views along the road and the town of Bombay Beach is not worth spending any time in.
For more information see my Salton Sea Page.
The Coastal Redwood is the tallest living thing in the world growing up to 370 feet tall. They are also amongst the oldest living things living up to 2000 years. Redwood National Park includes a very wide variety of terrain ranging from mountains over 3000 feet tall; vast woodlands; rocky beaches backed by sea cliffs in the north and serene, sandy beaches backed by bluffs in the south; and even includes a little of the area offshore. This diverse area offers a wide variety of plant and animal life.
The trail through the Lady Bird Johnson Grove is a 1 mile (1.4 km) loop trail that is easy to moderate in difficulty. It loops through a range-top forest of redwood and Douglas firs. Because the windswept slopes and ridges provide a less desirable environment than the more protected valleys the redwood shares this area with a wider variety of plants.
Redwood National Park also includes several beaches ranging from serene sandy beaches in the south to beaches backed by rocky cliffs in the north.
For more information see my Redwood National Park Page.
Lassen Peak is one of many active and dormant volcanoes located around the rim of the Pacific Ocean in an area called the "Ring of Fire". Lassen Peak formed around 27,000 years ago as a volcanic vent on the northern side of a much older, much larger volcano called Brokeoff Volcano. The last eruption of Lassen Peak started in 1914 and caused sporadic eruptions for the next 3 years. The question is not if it will erupt again; but when.
There are many lakes inside the park, most of which are only accessible down dirt roads or by hiking trails. There are also several lakes that are accessible along the main road. To me, on of the prettiest was Lake Helen.
Another of the most interesting places in the park is called "Bumpass Hell" after explorer K. V. Bumpass. This area has a variety of geysers, fumaroles, mudpots and boiling springs. These are an indication that there is still plenty of heat below the surface waiting to erupt someday. Follow the warning signs and stay on the trails, Bumpass, who knew the area well, lost a leg stepping in the wrong place.
For more information see my Lassen Volcanic National Park Page.
Not far south of the town of Alturas on US Highway 395, is the Modoc National Wildlife Refuge. I stopped at one of the wildlife viewing spots and saw more wildlife that I had seen at almost any other refuge. It was like a scene from a movie. Try it.
For more information see my Modoc National Wildlife Refuge Page.
The terrain of Lava Beds National Monument started forming around 500,000 years ago with the eruption of the Medicine Lake Shield Volcano. This is the largest volcano of all the volcanoes in the Cascade Range, which stretches from Northern California into British Columbia. The volcano covers about 700 square miles (1125 square kilometers). The Devil's Homestead Lava Flow (shown here), is relatively young having occurred in the last several thousand years.
There are over 700 lava tube caves in the park. These caves are formed as flows of molten lava move along a gentle slope to exit on the surface. The lava moves very slowly and cools and hardens as it comes into contact with the air and ground along the surface. The cooling takes place first on the bottom where it touches the ground, than the sides then the top forming a tube which insulates the rest of the lava allowing it to flow long distances. Once the flow stops a long cave is formed. Some of these tubes collapse and form features like Fern Cave where animal and plant life live.
Pictured here is Mushpot Cave which is located near the Visitor Center on the south end of the park. This is the cave for the beginning caver and for those not sure how they will react to going in a cave. It has lights inside, and even has interpretive signs. Flashlights are available at the visitors center and hardhats are recommended. Parts of the cave have a low ceiling.
According to the Modoc Tribe who inhabited this area for thousands of years before they were forcibly moved this area was once a vast lake. Then one day Kamookumpts (the creator) decided to make land. He scooped some mud from the bottom of the lake and formed the hill where the petroglyphs are now found. He then created the animals, plants and the rest of the terrain we know today. All this work made him very tired so he made a hole below the hill and went to sleep. Just as a warning; the story also says that he is still asleep there and if we don't take care of the land he created he may be angry when he awakens.
For more information see my Lava Beds National Monument Page.
The Joshua Tree National Park houses a surprisingly diverse plant and animal life. The main attraction, of course is the Joshua Tree itself (Yucca Brevifolia). Additionally, there is the landscape which was shaped by strong winds, unpredictable torrents of rain, and climatic extremes. Dark night skies, a rich cultural history, and surreal geologic features add to the attraction of this place. You would need to spend a few days here to fully explore the park. If your time is limited you may want to consider limiting yourself to the main park roads. There are a number of pullouts with wayside exhibits all along these roads. There are 12 self-guiding nature trails, and you may want to experience at least one of these walks. Keys View, which was closed during my visit, offers views beyond Salton Sea to Mexico. There are 9 campgrounds and a number of picnic areas in the park. Joshua Tree National Park is also a very popular rock-climbing destination. The park is always open and may be visited anytime of year. Visitation increases as temperatures moderate in the fall, peaks during spring wildflower season, and diminishes during the heat of summer. A 7-Day Vehicle Permit costs $15 and admits the passengers of a single, non-commercial vehicle for the day of purchase and the next six days. An additional attraction in the park is the Keys Ranch, a prime example of the way the rugged individuals who populated this desolate area eked out their living. Ranger guided tours of the ranch, the only way to see it, are scheduled for 11 AM and 1 PM Saturday and Sunday from October through May. Weekday tours vary during the season and are listed on the Ranger Program schedule. The tour costs $5 per person, is 1/2-mile in length and lasts 90 minutes. Group size is limited to 25 people.
There are also lots of interesting mountains/rock formations throughout the park. They have posted informational signs at various sites and pulloffs in the park that explain how these formations were made and provide additional information.
For more information see my Joshua Tree National Park Page.