California is home to some of the most iconic national parks in the United States. Yosemite, Sequoia & Kings Canyon, and Death Valley are only a few of the more prominent parks of the state. Hailing thousands of visitors not only from the country but even internationally, it has made a name out of stunning geographical features and activities for outdoor enthusiasts. These parks have since heralded visitors due to their monumental beauty and careful preservation efforts.
But aside from its more acclaimed national parks, California also hosts some of the most breathtaking natural state reserves in the nation. Natural state reserves are dedicated preservation areas typically with historical, geological, or cultural significance to the state or country. Even when flanked with the impressive national and state parks in the state, these reserves can more than hold their own. Check out some of the most beautiful state reserves in California below!
Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve
Ever wanted to feel like you’re being transported to another world entirely? If so, that’s just what you’ll experience when you visit Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve.
Mono Lake Tufa SNR is dazzling in the early sunset. Towers of tufas are seen adorning the scenery while gorgeous colors can be seen reflecting in the surrounding waters. [Image: http://www.parks.ca.gov/]
Mono Lake Tufa is a state natural reservation located in eastern California. While this seemingly out-of-this-world natural reserve is relatively near its more iconic cousin, the grand Yosemite National Park
, Mono Lake can nevertheless hold its own candle. Surrounded by towering tufas—columns of calcium carbonate formed in carbonate-rich saltwater lakes—Mono Lake provides a dreamy sight for every visitor to marvel at.
The reserve’s preservation committee typically holds tours every weekend throughout the winter months for those interested in visiting this breathtaking place. Check their calendar of events for more information as inclement weather can effect the routine tour schedules. The best time to visit? Sunset. The clear waters and panoramic background paint a palate of dazzling brilliance over the scenery.
For adventure enthusiasts, you’ll find that the Mono Lake has quite an ecosystem. Multiple avian species like the mountain quail, calliope hummingbird, and American wigeon have been sighted in the vicinity. Canada geese, mallards, and other ducks are also frequent visitors during migration periods.
Canada geese can be seen flocking in Mono Lake during their migration months. [Image: http://static-myyosemitepark.s3.amazonaws.com/]
Hiking, photography, swimming, and boating are only a few of the activities offered in this area. For those that want to spend a night within its majestic grounds, be sure to read up on the rules and regulations regarding camping permits.
Tufa can be seen standing regally against a backdrop of the Milky Way at night. During the spring and summer months, a stunning view of the stars make quite a memorable camping environment. [Image: http://goldpaintphotography.com/]
For more information regarding Mono Lake, please visit their park website
Point Lobos State Natural Reserve
With views sweeping over deep blue ocean, impressive rocky montages, noble trees, and crashing ocean foam, Point Lobos is a picturesque paradise located in the central coast of Monterey County. Flanked by rolling meadows of green, a thriving ecosystem, and ethereal scenery, this natural reserve is an ideal place to simply get lost in nature’s astounding beauty.
One of Point Lobos’ celebrated sights is China Cove. It is a popular tourist sight due to its crystal clear waters along the shorelines. [Image: http://www.montereybayinsider.com/]
The reserve hosts an outdoor program for children and families, tours, diving excursions, hiking, and easy access to adventures all amidst its tranquil atmosphere. Volunteers are available throughout the area to provide information regarding the rich history of Point Lobos.
A section of Point Lobos where waves can be seen crashing on the inland shores. [Image: http://icons.wunderground.com/
If you intend to visit Point Lobos, layers of clothing are suggested due to the distance between the waters. The chilly ocean breeze is quick and eager to drive the heat away from your body, so it is best to bring extra clothing. Other suggested items include a camera to remember the stunning views with, as well as sunscreen and water.
Take a peek at the Point Lobos page for more information.
Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
On the southern side of California, between La Jolla and Del Mar and north of San Diego, lies Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. This state reserve is one of the last two abodes of the rarest pine tree, Pinus torreyana.
One of the rarest pine trees in the nation—Pinus torreyana—can only be found thriving in two locations: Torrey Pines SNR and in Santa Rosa, California. [Image: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/]
Torrey Pines is considered a fragile ecosystem. Rigorous preservation efforts have been expended to conserve this natural habitat. It is a popular place of refuge to a large waterfowl population as well as the mule and black-tailed deer. As it is an undeveloped area, it is privy to erosion. An example of this can seen through the Broken Hill, a huge, rugged geological wonder overlooking the ocean.
Broken Hill provides an ideal place to hike for outdoor enthusiasts. Its impressive location offers an outstanding view of the ocean and lower La Jolla. [Image: http://media.sdreader.com/]
Crags of rock interlock to create a geologic sight prime for sightseeing within the park. For adventurers, Torrey Pines is a small trip to the wildness away from urban life. Its sensitive ecosystem that’s being carefully reserved features cliffs and ravines overlooking the seas. Activities available within the park include swimming at the beach, hiking, interpretive programs, and wildlife watching
Torrey Pines towering over the sea. It is easy to see how it stirs wanderlust among adventurers. [Image: http://s3-media2.fl.yelpcdn.com/]
It is highly encouraged to check with Torrey Pines SNR
website regarding the rules and regulations applicable within the area. As it is a natural area, regulations are carefully placed to avoid any unnecessary disruptions to its ecological system.
California is one of the most urbanized cities in the United States, so state natural reserves are carefully cherished and taken care of to preserve the natural beauty that’s in danger of ever-expanding civilization. It is a great place to relax, think, and be away from the hustle and bustle of the city as well as get in touch with nature and its profound views.
If you’re thinking of visiting one of these SNR’s, let us help you! Our California State Parks app contains the most updated information for this park and can be found in the Apple and Google Play stores. Download now, and take advantage of the warm winter days this December to observe nature at its best in one of these parks!