Giant Sequoia National Monument was created on April 15, 2000 to preserve the remaining Sequoia Groves and forest outside of the National Parks. Highway 190 provides a scenic drive high in the Sierra Nevada to the Sequoia's with stunning mountain vistas and recreational areas along the Tule River.
Carrizo Plain National Monument is a true wilderness experience in California's Great Central Valley. More than 200,000 acres of untouched beauty reveal what the entire valley looked like long before development. Beautiful grassland plains hug rolling hills blanketed by a rainbow of wildflowers in the Spring. The San Andreas Fault cuts right through the plain giving it a rich geological history. Native Chumash considered the plain sacred and inhabited the area for at least 4,000 years.
Today, this is the only original California grassland strand remaining. The highest concentration of endangered species in the state reside here including the tule elk, pronghorn, San Joaquin kit fox & antelope squirrel, blunt-nosed leopard lizard, giant kangaroo rat as well as the California condor. Managed by the Bureau of Land Management as opposed to the National Park Service, the plain is continuously in a controversial debate over grazing, solar power and oil drilling rights. One visit will have you one the side for preservation.
*Access is dirt road only, 4 wheel drive strongly recommended
San Gabriel Mountains National Monument was created on October 10th, 2014 to protect 346,177 acres of pristine wilderness above Los Angeles. More than 15 million people are within a 90 mile radius of the monument, but a visit will feel uncrowded with 4 designated wilderness areas. 300 species of plants and animals are found here and nowhere else on Earth making it a rich biodiversity zone. The San Gabriel Mountains provide Los Angeles with 70% of its wild space and 30% of its drinking water. Native American history here dates 8,000 years.
The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway rises 6,000 feet from the desert floor to the alpine forest through five diverse life zones. It is the largest rotating aerial tramway in the world. From the top to the bottom, the temperature can differ by up to 40 degrees making it the perfect escape during hot summers. On a clear day, the views stretch as far as 200 miles including Mount Charleston outside of Las Vegas, Nevada. Because of its engineering feat, it earned the nickname 'eight wonder of the world' when it opened in 1963.
Devil's Punchbowl Natural Area is a grand assortment of sandstone boulders and cliffs at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. At 4,750 feet, the San Andreas Fault travels directly beneath the park helping to create its striking formations. A one mile trail takes you down into the heart of the punchbowl for an up-close look at this geological wonderland.
Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument preserves 280,000 acres in the peninsular mountain ranges. The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians own and manage a large portion of the monument of which house many sacred sites. It is a land of extremes rising from the heat of the desert floor to the snow dusted peaks 10,000 feet high.
Palms to Pines National Scenic Byway winds through the encompassing mountains and is a great driving overview of the monument. The National Landscape Conservation System maintains the monument as a 'healthy, wild and open' space. Unlike many other parks and monuments, not many mapped trails or sites exist. It is a place for deep reflection and solitude. The beauty of nature awaits!
Known as 'the most scenic and picturesque mountain road in the state', Angeles Crest National Scenic Byway is a beautiful scenic drive high up in the San Gabriel Mountains. Also known as Highway 2, the road began construction in 1929 and took 27 years to finish in 1956. It winds through Angeles National Forest & San Gabriel Mountains National Monument to a land of pristine alpine wilderness. During rain storms, the mountain peaks become engulfed in foggy clouds and makes the road appear to soar above to the Angels of Heaven.
Old Point Loma Lighthouse in San Diego is one of the original six lighthouses approved by Congress in 1850 after California was admitted to the union. Opening in 1855, the lighthouse was the highest in the country at 400 feet. Fog and cloud coverage made the lighthouse hard to see so was retired in 1891. The lighthouse also served as the home for the light keeper and family who would entertain visitors with its grandiose bluff-top views. Part of Cabrillo National Monument, the lighthouse can be visited in San Diego's National Park.
Painted Rock in the Carrizo Plain National Monument is an amazing pictograph rock art site. Thousands of years old, these pictographs were created by the Chumash, Salinan and Yokut Natives. The pigments were created from a yucca shrub while they were painted using brushes made of rodent hair. Although the meanings are now lost, the art remains sacred. Access to the site is via a rough dirt road and limited to guided tours from March to May and is a 1.4 mile hike. The rest of the year you need to register online to gain access to this federally protected site.
Pictograph/Petroglpyh Etiquette: Take many photos but DO NOT TOUCH. Oils from our hands can destroy forever. Do not alter the rock art in any way or form and please stay on the trail to protect the fragile desert ecosystem.
Mount Wilson is a grand peak in the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument & Angeles National Forest. The summit is just over a mile high at 5,710 feet. From the Angeles Crest Highway, Mount Wilson Red Box Road beautifully winds up the range. Visit on a rainy day and soar above the bursting clouds. Snow is even common in the winter. This wonderland is unbelievably right above Los Angeles yet you will feel you've entered another land.