The Alabama Hills Recreation Area is a stunning mirage of rocks and hills in the Eastern Sierra Nevada. Metamorphosed volcanic rock up to 300 million years old as well as biotite monzogranite up to 85 million years old create the wondrous assortment of shapes and arches. Hiking, photography and stargazing are some of the best ways to enjoy the land. Many films were shot here since the 1920's including 'How the West Was Won' and 'The Lone Ranger'. A scenic drive along Movie Flat Road will take you to exact locations for famous film scenes.
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, the 'Crown Jewel of the California State Park System', preserves a stunning rocky coastline with hidden coves, pocket beaches and the Monterey Cypress, one of only two places naturally grown. The adjacent Point Lobos State Marine Reserve protects the waters which include vast kelp forests. Spend the day hiking, snorkeling and swimming among this gorgeous coast.
Borrego Palm Canyon is a stunning 3 mile hike in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Gorgeous rocky waterfalls surround this lush Palm Oasis, the largest in the park while more than 80 migratory birds use it as a watering hole alongside Desert Bighorn Sheep. Visit after a rain for gushing falls and cooler weather.
Located on the edge of the city, Mount Rubidoux (1,331 feet) is one of Riverside's iconic landmarks. The oldest outdoor non-denominational Easter Sunrise service in the United States started here in 1909 and would draw 30,000 people at its peak in the 20's. The mountain features a famous cross dedicated to Mission founder Father Junípero Serra as well as a World Peace Bridge. It is now a city park with more than 3 miles of hiking trails providing stunning views of Riverside and the Inland Empire.
Kelso Dunes in the Mojave National Preserve are one of the largest (45 square miles) and tallest (700 feet) sand dunes in the North America. They are considered young created in the last 25,000 years by climate change and are often called the 'Singing Dunes' for the booming noise created by sliding sands. Run down a dune and listen for the rumble. A moderate 3 mile round-trip trail takes you to the top of the highest dune and is perfect for solitude seekers.
Mariposa Grove is the largest Sequoia grove in Yosemite National Park. Its most famous resident 'Grizzly Giant' is estimated to be 1900-2400 years old, and is the 25th largest in the world. Abraham Lincoln famously protected these trees on June 30, 1864 as an Act of Congress. Stunning trails wind through this enchanting forest of gentle giants.
The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens has been a World Famous California Landmark since 1919. Railroad and real estate tycoon Henry E. Huntington loved art, books and gardens so created The Huntington to house his collection. British, French and American Art of the 18th, 19th & 20th Centuries stand alongside an extensive library with more than 6 million rare books and manuscripts. Highlights to the 120 acres of gorgeous landscaped gardens include the Cactus Garden, Rose Garden and Palm Garden.
Bishop Peak is the highest of the 'Nine Sisters' volcanic plugs at 1,559 feet. The rocky peak resembling a Bishop's miter was named during the Mission days. Run as a natural reserve, ecosystems include chaparral, grassland and oak woodland making it important for conservation. A moderate 4.4 mile out and back hike will bring you to the top with sweeping views of San Luis Obispo and its valleys.
Rancho Sierra Vista Satwiwa in the Santa Monica Mountains preserves sacred Native American land of the Chumash and Tongva/Gabrielino. The iconic Boney Peak provides a dramatic backdrop for this once village called 'Satwiwa' or Bluff where 150 archeological sites have been discovered. The area was first visited by Europeans in 1769-70 during the famous Portolá expedition and again in 1774 during the Juan Bautista de Anza expedition. Enjoy miles of trails and Spring wildflowers in a landscape largely unchanged.
El Camino Cielo or 'Trail to the Sky' is the most beautiful drive in Santa Barbara. Winding through the Santa Ynez Mountains of Los Padres National Forest, the road soars 4,000 feet above the city and provides stunning panoramic vistas and access to hiking trails. Sandstone canyons, towering peaks, chaparral and pine forests combine to create a diverse ecosystem.