8 Best Tips on How to Visit California’s National Parks

California has one of the most diverse landscapes in the country. Home to the most national parks of any state, The Golden State is filled with exciting adventures, whether it’s the arid desert of Death Valley or the mountain trails throughout Yosemite. With so many protected areas to visit, it’s essential to know how to adequately prepare. 

National Parks are protected for a reason, which means it’s crucial to know how to visit these parks safely while still enjoying your trip. If you’re wondering how to visit California’s National Parks, read our guide below on California National Park travel tips.

Tip #1: Respect Wildlife

One of the most important tips to consider when going to the top National Parks in California, and any National Park, is to respect wildlife. National Parks are protected by the federal government to preserve natural habitats. These preservation efforts help to ensure plants and wildlife are protected, which provide learning and recreation opportunities for people and provide a space for unique and endangered plants and wildlife to thrive. 

To respect the wildlife you encounter in the parks, it’s important to always stay on designated roads, paths, and trails. Additionally, always make sure to carry your trash with you and discard it in designated trash bins throughout the park or carry it out of the park with you. For both your safety and the safety of the wildlife, always maintain a safe distance and do not provoke or feed any animals you come across.

Tip #2: Download the National Park Service App

If you want to learn more about the best National Parks in California before your trip, download the National Park Service App on your smart device. On the NPS app, you can find interactive maps, accessibility information, and more. This way, you can get a better idea of what to expect before your California National Park adventure.

Tip #3: Book With a Travel Group

Having an itinerary can help you hit all of the landmarks and viewpoints you want to see in the National Park you’re visiting. However, ironing out all of the details can be stressful, especially if you’re not sure what areas are worth seeing and how to coordinate all of the logistics. Booking with a travel group, such as Road Scholar, takes the stress out of planning, so you can have peace of mind knowing your itinerary is taken care of. 

If you’re wondering what to do in National Parks, our team at Road Scholar can help. We have a wide range of California National Park programs to choose from, whether it’s exploring the desert in Joshua Tree or the shoreline of the Channel Islands.

Booking with a travel group is also a great way to stay safe. At Road Scholar, our local guides are experts of California’s National Parks. Depending on the National Park you’re visiting, you can find yourself in extreme conditions, such as the vast backcountry of Yosemite or the extreme heat in Death Valley. When traveling in a travel group, you’ll have a team to rely on and an expert guide who will inform you on park safety and etiquette.

Tip #4: Pack Properly

National Parks are ripe with adventure, which means you need to pack properly for your safety and comfort. As you prepare for your California National Parks road trip or day trip, pack these essential items:

  • Extra layers of clothes for varying temperature conditions
  • Storm gear for inclement weather
  • Extra food and water for energy
  • Sunscreen to protect your skin
  • Compass and a map for areas with limited cell phone coverage
  • Binoculars to view wildlife
  • Camera to capture the beauty and memories around you
  • Comfortable footwear for walking and hiking

Tip #5: Know When to Go

Another crucial component for traveling to a National Park is knowing the best time to visit California National Parks. There are several reasons why people flock to California, such as coastal towns along the Pacific Ocean, major cultural hubs like Los Angeles and San Francisco, and the beauty of its National Parks. To avoid crowds while still having comfortable weather, the best time to visit California National Parks is October, as most students are back in school and the summer rush is over.

Tip #6: Talk With Park Rangers

Parks Rangers aren’t just there to patrol the park and enforce the rules. Park Rangers also serve as great sources of information. When you visit your next National Park in California, take time to talk with a Park Ranger. They can provide information on the history of the park, off-the-beaten-path ideas to avoid crowded lines, and their favorite areas of the park you might not have thought to visit.

Tip #7: Get a Guided Tour

One of the best ways to see National Parks is through a National Park tour. Through National Park tours, you can learn about the history, geography, and cultures that make up the National Park you’re visiting from an expert tour guide. At Road Scholar, we offer a wide range of guided tours throughout the top National Parks in California.

Tip #8: Bring a Map

A map of a National Park isn’t just a great way to stay safe should you veer off a trail or path, but it also serves as a great way to discover new areas you may be interested in exploring. Before you embark on your adventure, stop by the National Park’s visitor center and pick up a map. Then, you can look through to find landmarks and natural areas that pique your interests. You can even bring a National Park travel guide that has California National Park travel tips and facts for you to read along your journey.

Explore the Best National Parks in California With Road Scholar

If you’re wondering how to visit California’s National Parks, look no further than Road Scholar. At Road Scholar, we have a wide range of experiential learning adventures that bring explorers through California’s National Parks. Our expert-led tour groups allow you to discover the biodiversity, culture, and history of National Parks, so you can leave with newfound knowledge and lasting memories. 


Book your California National Park tour with Road Scholar today to see what you can discover.

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