Backcountry Favorites

10 Of Our Favorite Nature Spots in California

By Wilderness Adventures February 17, 2023
Yosemite national park landscape

Are you looking to give your kid or teen a new experience? Instead of another theme park or indoor fun zone, give them a ticket to ‘Do Something Wild’. Their best adventure starts here—with Wilderness Adventures. We offer over 45 programs that not only immerse kids in an outdoor environment but challenge them to build community, develop leadership skills, or create friendships. 

California is one of our most treasured trip locations. Discover our top 10 favorite nature spots in The Golden State. 

1. Yosemite National Park

Nearly 1,200 square miles, Yosemite National Park is a sight to behold. Its deep valleys, meadows, and vast wildernesses offer immeasurable outdoor adventures for every visitor. Stay for a day and hike Glacier Point to witness a breathtaking view of the high country and valley. Or, stroll through Mariposa Grove to witness the largest sequoia grove in Yosemite. There are over 500 mature sequoias nestled there, including the iconic Bachelor and Three Graces sequoia. 

If you’re up for an overnight trip to Yosemite, consider joining our California Discovery trip. We backpack for three days in Yosemite National Park, giving kids and teens an opportunity to test their wilderness skills while enjoying all of the beauty Yosemite offers.

2. The American River

There’s no experience nearly as exciting as American River rafting. Miles of streams and trails on all three forks of the river await any adventurer. If you’ve never gone whitewater rafting before—no problem! Float down a quiet stream with the family and soak in the natural beauty and open space. If you’re up for a challenge, though, go for the North Fork of the river and test out Generation Gap for an adrenaline rush. The only way out of the canyon is down, so keep your eyes peeled and hands on the oars!

3. Lake Tahoe

If you’re looking for a winter oasis, Lake Tahoe is the perfect place to be. You can choose your own adventure in either North or South Lake Tahoe for incredible activities that include skiing, snowboarding, tubing, hiking, and more. 

Both regions of Lake Tahoe have numerous ski slopes, so whether you’re a beginner or an advanced skier, there’s a slope for everyone. And if you need a break from the winter fun, check out Vikingsholm Castle. Built in 1929, the house is a Norse fortress mirroring architecture from 800 A.D. 

4. The Lost Coast

The Lost Coast is part of Wilderness Adventures’ California Explorer trip, and you’ll soon find out why. This hidden 25-mile-long coastline gem, just north of Fort Bragg, is an enthusiastic backpacker’s dream. It’s a wild land of forests, fog, waves, and sand. The mountains of King Range have peaks over 4,000 feet above the Pacific, as well as shell mounds where Native Americans once shucked clams. Lost Coast also features wildlife such as Roosevelt Elk, so be sure to catch a glimpse of these beautiful creatures grazing in bluff-top prairies. 

5. Golden Gate National Recreation Area

Over 2,000 plant and animal species and over 19 distinct ecosystems thrive in the wonderful Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The park hosts millions of visitors each year with mainstay attractions such as Alcatraz island, the site of a 1969 protest which began the American Indian Civil Rights Movement, and more. From here, you can see beautiful views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco while hiking. Or, take a tour at the park’s center to learn more about the Mexican Republic or Spanish colonialism. 

6. Redwood National Park

Home to the world’s tallest trees, the Redwoods in California are a treasure. In this park, you can take a slow casual drive through the redwoods, camp overnight, hike or bike the trails, or go looking for the unique wildlife. Klamath River Overlook is a prime spot for watching gray whale migration, along with other marine mammals and seabirds. And while you’re there, don’t forget to take the time to learn more about the Redwood Area History from the park rangers. It’s a great way to explore the culture of the Indigenous people who lived in the area and their culture. 

7. Mt. Shasta

Part of the High Sierra program  with Wilderness Adventures, Mt. Shasta is a spectacular site to see. This beautiful location has abundant natural resources. It’s a prime location for outdoor enthusiasts, from luxury resort retreats to wilderness camping. If you camp at Lake Siskiyou (one of our group’s favorite campsites), you can fish from the Sacramento River, or explore deep caverns such as Pluto’s cave.

8. Borrego Springs

Located 88 miles northeast of San Diego, California, both professional and amateur stargazers seek after Borrego Springs. This location is surrounded by the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, the country’s second-largest state park after New York’s Adirondack State Park. It’s part of the International Dark Sky Community, meaning that Borrego Springs has shown historical dedication to the preservation of the night sky. Grab a telescope and or binoculars and stargaze Borrego Springs’ stars. 

9. Half Moon Bay

Half Moon Bay has the biggest surf on the West Coast, making it a legendary surfing spot. It’s a wild ride that you shouldn’t miss out on. Stop by Mavericks, one of Half Moon Bay’s iconic beaches, to catch some pristine waves that professional surfers come from near and far to surf. And if you’re a beginner surfer, hit up Half Moon Bay Jetty, also known as Surfers’ Beach. Mavericks Experience offers classes and tours so don’t be afraid to ask for instruction! If you’d rather hike or stroll the gorgeous area instead of surf, check out this full list of beaches to visit.

10. McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park

Located within the Cascade Range and Modoc Plateau natural region, the McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park is one-of-a-kind. Created by volcanic activity, along with erosion from weather and streams, the Park has a unique landscape. Within the park is the iconic 129-foot Burney Falls, which offers spectacular views for visitors. This place also offers the perfect oasis for hiking, with five miles of hiking trails winding through the park’s evergreen forests. 

Come Adventure With Us

California’s nature is one-of-a-kind. The Golden State’s luscious and vibrant plants, trees, landscapes, and animals are valuable gems. Everywhere you turn, another spectacular view is waiting to be seen. Wilderness Adventures hosts outdoor adventure camps and trips in California and other places that leave an amazing impact on kids and teens. We love giving new experiences to people and showing them how wildly awesome nature is. Join us for an upcoming adventure!