California State Parks Worth Visiting

Updated on March 19, 2018
Kenna McHugh profile image

Kenna loves to travel and share cool places to visit so others can have a wonderful, if not better, time than she did.


D.L. Bliss State Park

D.L. Bliss State Park rests in the splendor of the mountain formations on the east side of the central Sierra crest—over 6,200 feet in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. From the high points of land like Rubicon Point, visitors can view more than one hundred feet down deep into the waters of Lake Tahoe. It's breathtaking.

Campgrounds remain closed in the winter and are open from the end of May to mid-September (weather permitting). With Emerald Bay State Park, D.L. Bliss holds 20 primitive camping sites, which are reachable only by boat. There are 268 family campsites with nearby restrooms and hot showers without hookups. There is a 50 people group campground available. The beach is only a walking distance from the campgrounds. Scuba diving is welcomed in the underwater park, which is clearly marked.

I really enjoyed the Balancing Rock Nature Trail because it is self-guided with 19 markers numbered and easy to see. My family and I learned how the animals, plants, and soils sustain each other. A main attraction on the trail is the Balancing Rock, weighing 130 tons as it balances on a slim stone foundation. My youngest thought it was super cool.

Josh Sorenson
Josh Sorenson

El Capitan State Beach

Located along the coastline, El Capitan State Beach is lined with tall groves visible from the highway. The crowded beach offers a beach walk, picnic grounds, hiking, surfing, and camping. The coastal live oaks along with willows and sycamores edge El Capitan Creek. Such a flourishing coastal woods with plenty of wildlife to share the area with band-tailed pigeons, scrub jays, flickers, raccoons, western gray squirrels, and mule deer. Seabirds consist of scoters, grebes, gulls, loons, and terns.

El Captain Campgrounds are open all year long with family sites numbering at 132. Every site offers a fire ring or stove, picnic table with restrooms and hot showers a short distance away. Some family sites allow only RVs while some provide accommodation for trailers and recreational vehicles capable of 42 feet span. Five Group Campsites offer accommodations for 40-100 people. They overlook the ocean at the marine terrace.

As my family entered the park, we noticed that the El Captain Hike and Bike Campsites are available, but they are clearly marked with those who intend to strictly hike and bike. The area offers barbecues, tables, restrooms, and hot showers.

We took a hike on the nature trail that is self-guided and winds all the way through the woodlands on El Capitan Point. Another hike, which we didn’t take, is the Bill Wallace Trail, named after the former Santa Barbara County supervisor and coastal advocate. It winds all through the area covering over ten miles of lush views on a 1000-foot elevation increase.

If you like to surf or watch surfers, which my family does, you appreciate viewing the surfers. There were many out at El Capitan State Beach when we watched. We were told that the conditions fluctuate as the weather changes. During the cooler seasons (fall and winter), known for low tides, the advance surfers enjoy the seamless swells from the west or west-southwest.

Indian Canyons

Indian Canyons is comprised of four different canyons, each canyon distinct in its beauty, greens, and trails. When my family arrived at the canyons, we were introduced to strict guidelines of behavior such as no smoking, no fires, no loud music, no dogs, and no bicycles or motorized vehicles on the trails. All the rules were fine with us, but I highly suggest those who don’t enjoy constraints stay away.

Palm Canyon trail leads down into the canyon near a stream to picnic, explore, or horseback. The canyon offers a Trading Post for maps, refreshments, Indian art, and more. Andreas Canyon boasts over 150 species of plants with unusual rock formations and the Andreas Creek. Murray Canyon is a hike south of Andreas Canyon offering trails on foot or horseback leading to possible sightings of the Peninsula Big Horn Sheep (an endangered species) and other wild animals.

There are ranger-guided tours with a fee. We guided ourselves around, and it was fine. However, there is plenty of evidence of Native American history.

Photo made by Bob Walker in en:Siskiyou County, California in 1991.
Photo made by Bob Walker in en:Siskiyou County, California in 1991.

Castle Crags State Park

Castle Crags State Park received its name for its 6,000-feet glacier-polished crags that overlook the Sacramento River just beneath the majestic Mount Shasta. Towering alongside the spiky crags is the rounded-shaped Castle Dome that is often compared to Half Dome in Yosemite. The crags can definitely be seen from the freeway. My family sees them whenever we drive by on Interstate 5. We pulled over one time and discovered an easy access to the park.

The 4,350-acre park occupies almost 30 miles of winding trails, with a trail into Castle Crags Wilderness that is about 3 miles long. The wilderness is a division of the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. The famous Pacific Crest Trail also winds through the lush park. The Castle Dome hike is strenuous but my family found it worth the effort with a bubbling spring along the hillside and gorgeous views of Mount Shasta and the crags.

The park has 76 campgrounds and six environmental campgrounds. Each campground is without showers. The recreation area of the park features fishing and swimming, excursions into the backcountry, nature viewing, horse trails, educational programs, and exhibits. There are many chances to view Mount Shasta as well. Spring is an excellent time to view the brilliant display of over 300 species of wildflowers.


Clear Lake State Park

Clear Lake is California’s biggest freshwater lake and along its shores is Clear Lake State Park. Visitors engage in a variety of water pursuits in and near the lake. The pursuits include swimming, water-skiing, fishing, and boating. The State Park is home to a variety of waterfowl since the climate and abundant fish are ideal for them, which also draws recreational fishing.

One can simply cast a line, using the correct bait or lure catch a variety of fish, such as bass, blackfish, crappie, Sacramento perch, bluegill and channel catfish. Clear Lake is rated as the best place to bass fish according to Western Bass, Cal Bass, and U.S. Bass. The fishing organizations sanctioned the lake, per the amount of fish hooked, as the number one bass fishing locale in the U.S.

If fishing isn’t your game, then you can hit the Indian Nature Trail. The self-guided trail not only educates people about the Pomo people but is a beautiful trail shaded by live oak trees. The trail can get hot during the summer months. Pomo people dwelled the area for hundreds of years.

The park has simple cabins for those who plan their visit in advance and set reservations. Four campgrounds are easy to get to with 147 different sites and two hike and bike sites. A group campground quarters 50 people. All the sites have a table or tables and a food locker with an area for campfires.

D.L. Bliss State Park:
D L Bliss State Park, 9881 CA-89, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150, USA

get directions

El Captian State Park:
El Capitan State Beach, California 93117, USA

get directions

Indian Canyons State Park:
Indian Canyons, 38520 S Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92264, USA

get directions

Castle Crags State Park:
Castle Crags State Park, 20022 Castle Creek Rd, Castella, CA 96017, USA

get directions

Questions & Answers

    © 2017 Kenna McHugh


      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.


      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

      Show Details
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)