The 6 best state parks in California to visit this winter

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California is a wonderful state on the west coast, which is home to a wide variety of scenery, from sparkling beaches to giant redwoods. Visiting one of the local state parks is a great way to experience it first hand. Here are six state parks that won’t disappoint you this winter.

The 6 best state parks in California to visit this winter

1. Anza Barrega Desert State Park

This gorgeous park is located in southern California, about an hour and thirty minutes from San Diego. Its desert location makes winter one of the best times to visit. While temperatures can climb well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer, visiting in the winter will mean you can expect a much more reasonable 60-70 degree range during the day.

The park is home to some unique attractions, including magnificent palm oases. It also offers a wide variety of hiking trails suitable for most skill levels. Heading to the nearby town of Barrega Springs can offer some additional activities, including checking out art galleries and local shops.

Anza Borrego Park

2. Humboldt Redwoods State Park

This California state park is home to some of the largest trees in the country – the iconic redwoods. You’ll want to set aside at least a little time to drive the Alley of the Giants, a 32-mile stretch of road lined with the giant trees of its name.

If you’re looking for a quick hike or have limited time to spend in the area, the Founder’s Grove Trail is just over a mile and is a great choice. For those looking to spend more time exploring the area, Burlington Campground is open year-round; however, the temperature can drop at night, so you should bring a warm coat and sleeping bag.

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Humboldt Redwoods State Park

3. Red Rock Canyon State Park

Not to be confused with Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in Nevada, this beautiful California park is home to stunningly colorful rock formations. Located on the southern edge of the Sierra Nevada, it’s a great choice for winter exploration, thanks to mild temperatures – usually around 60 degrees. The park has many hiking trails and wildlife, making it a great choice for photographers and hikers alike.

Red Rock Canyon State Park

4. Pfieffer Big Sur State Park

If you’re looking for some breathtaking scenery, look no further Pfieffer Big Sur State Park. This beautiful park offers a picturesque view not only of the ocean, but also of a wonderful bay with a sparkling waterfall. It should be noted that there is no direct access to the beach from the state park itself – the cliffs in the park create beautiful views, but also make approaching the water dangerous.

However, there is still much to do, including many routes. If you’re looking for a quick way to get some fresh air, check out the 0.7 mile nature trail. If you’re looking for a more challenging challenge, the 3-mile long Buzzard’s Roost offers both decent elevation gain — 750 feet or so — and great ocean views.

Pfieffer Big Sur State Park

5. Crystal Cove State Park

This serene state park it is not only home to a gorgeous beach but also some unique historic features in the form of a series of coastal cottages which are some of the few surviving examples of coastal development from the period.

Swimming can be a bit chilly during a winter visit – temperatures hover around 70 degrees in the winter – but you can expect a much less crowded park as you explore the shore, trails and historic district.

Crystal Cove State Park

6. Prairie Creek State Park

Humboldt Redwoods isn’t the only state park where you can see majestic redwoods. Prairie Creek State Park not only beautiful ancient trees grow here, but also a wide range of opportunities for active recreation and truly unearthly landscapes. Fern Canyon may look familiar to you, for example, because it was featured in one of the Jurassic Park movies.

Prairie Creek State Park

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This article originally appeared on The 6 best state parks in California to visit this winter

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