The dwarfes and the dinosaurs of California’s National Parks

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It’s time to hit the road as the summer heat gives way to the gentle September sun and the leaves start to turn. We have selected four national parks in the Golden State that will leave you awestruck at the towering expanse of nature. We have also chosen Los Angeles as the starting point for your California car rental.

When you see the magnificent trees, waterfalls and scenery of these Californian treasures, you will come away rejuvenated, humbled and reinvigorated.

Redwood National Park

Crescent City, CA 95531

Redwood National Park – all 4 billion hectares of it – lies in the far northwest of California, home to some of the state’s wildest yet most enchanting terrain.

OK, it’s a bit of a trek if you have taken a Los Angeles car rental – at more than 1100 km away and a 10-hour drive from the airport – but you can always break up the journey and the drive is truly breathtaking. Just imagine you’re in an open top, dovetailing Highway One. You look down on the magnificent Pacific. At times you feel you are dipping into the ocean itself as you pass lagoons, secluded beaches and twisting turns that take you almost to the southern border of Oregon. It’s just you and the love of your life against the world!

The Park itself – as the name implies – houses several groves of massive Redwood trees. Some of them can live for 2000 years. They can grow to a height of up to 367 feet and measure up to 22 feet at the base of the trunk. The Redwoods are evergreens, blessed by heavy rains in the winter and thick fog in the summer.

Before it became a national protected park, 80 per cent of Redwoods in the vicinity had been destroyed. So the park has been a lifesaver. One of the Redwoods in the park was once believed to be the tallest in the world.  Now scientists say that the tallest is hidden away in the forest, its location kept secret to protect it.

The lush growth in the area has appeared in the movies Star Wars and Jurassic Park. Be sure to visit Fern Canyon, home to Elk Prairie, and the Roosevelt Elk, the largest of the four surviving subspecies of elk in North America. The whole area is also a pure heaven for hikers, birdwatchers and campers.

Redwood National Park

 

Joshua Tree National Park

74485 National Park Drive, Twentynine Palms, CA 92277

Perhaps, if you’re coming out of LAX, you don’t fancy driving so far north. In that case you would do well to opt for three parks a bit closer to the airport. Let’s begin with the Joshua Tree National Park, a distance of just 237 kilometers, or a two-and-a-half-hour drive away.

The park’s name derives from the distinctive Joshua Tree, a tall-growing variety of the yucca genus that litters the area. Joshua Park encompasses nearly 800,000 acres of the Mojave – the hottest desert on the North American continent – and the Colorado Desert, two separate deserts that collide to produce a remarkable ecosystem.

The area within the park was once populated by ranchers, rustlers and gold prospectors. Top attractions include the decayed ruins at Wonderland Ranch, a huge rock resembling a human skull, and the Wall Street Mill – a preserved gold ore crushing mill featuring late-19th Century two-stamp mill machinery.

Don’t miss the Oasis of Mara, a desert-like oasis attracting birds rarely seen elsewhere, such as the energetic roadrunner, which travels up to 15 miles an hour. Climbers will also appreciate the rocks, some of which geologists claim were formed millions of years ago.

Joshua Tree National Park

 

 

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

Three Rivers, CA

Although technically they are two separate national parks, Sequoia and Kings Canyon –357 km from LA, a distance of about four and a quarter hours – are thought of as one park. The combined area embraces 865,952 acres, mostly wilderness.

Sequoia is home to the largest tree in the world – the General Sherman – and, altogether, 5 of the 10 largest trees in the world. It’s only when you see people walking past these trees, like dwarves at the feet of dinosaurs, that you get an idea of their incredible size. Even the branches are like large trees. You’ll spot some bears too if you’re lucky!

Sequoia-National-Park-32

 

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite Village, CA 95389

Yosemite National Park in the Sierra Nevada Mountain, 454 km from Los Angeles, a four-and-a-half-hour drive away, is renowned for its spectacular granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams, giant Sequoia groves, and biological diversity. It’s also the home of the Grizzly Giant – 2700 years old – one of the oldest giant Sequoia in the world.

Climbers will appreciate the Half Dome Cables Section. Pit your will against the imposing North Face; all you need is a firm step, a propensity to look up rather than down, a determined mindset and fair weather! The park is also home to some of the most magnificent waterfalls, including Bridle Vale and Upper Yosemite Fall.

Yosemite National Park, California, USA - summer 2000 - Patrick Nouhailler  ©

 

We hope you enjoy your trips to the California National Parks and that you choose a company that offers you the lowest car rental rates!

 

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