California is home to the highest concentration of National Forest land anywhere in the United States, containing 18 total officially designated National Forests and several more State and National Parks within its confines...Check out Part 1
With this blog we will continue exploring 7 more California National Forest or State Park areas of interest, with information on when they were established, what kind of flora and fauna are within, their contribution to our industry, and recreation available in each.
- Stanislaus National Forest
- Yosemite National Park
- Sierra National Forest
- Kings Canyon National Park
- Sequoia National Park
- Los Padres National Forest
- Joshua Tree National Park
Stanislaus National Forest
Stanislaus National Forest is among one of the oldest national forests in the United States, first established as such in 1897. Sitting in between Eldorado and Yosemite National Forests, on the eastern side of California, Stanislaus holds 898,099 acres of land. It also holds over 800 miles of rivers and streams total, perhaps the most well-known being the namesake Stanislaus River or the Tuolumne River. While here you can horseback ride, hike, bike, canoe, whitewater raft, camp, or participate in winter recreation such as snowmobiling and skiing. The forest itself holds around 139,000 acres of old-growth, which includes Lodgepole Pine, Jeffrey Pine, and White Fir.
Established in 1864, Yosemite National Park consists of 1,200 square miles of deep valleys, meadows, giant sequoias, and a vast natural wilderness area that encompasses 95% of the entire park. Yosemite first was home to seven different Native American tribes, but quickly grew into a tourism hot spot for California after the word of its intense beauty spread quicker than wildfire. Within its massive confines, you will find outdoor recreation opportunities galore, from hiking, biking, and camping, to rock climbing, off-roading, and fishing! Aside from the stunning giant sequoias, you will also see California Black Oaks, Ponderosa Pines, California Incense-Cedar, and White Firs within the forest.
Sierra National Forest
Sitting on the western slope of central Sierra Nevada you will find the 'rolling, oak-covered foothills and heavily forested slopes' of the Sierra National Forest. This gorgeous natural area ranges from 900 to nearly 14,000 feet in elevation, depending on whether you are spending time in the foothills, ranges, or perhaps the upper alpine landscape. This forest area is a true outdoor lovers paradise, offering every possible outdoor recreation opportunity possible, on land, water, and snow! The park contains 5 different 'wilderness areas', as well as 2 major scenic byways, the most popular being the 70 mile Sierra Heritage Byway. Tree-wise, be prepared to see a wide variety including oaks, cottonwood, willows and shrubs at the lower elevations, dogwoods at the mid-elevations and aspen in the upper regions!
Kings Canyon National Park
Kings Canyon has often been compared to the scenery of Yosemite, though the larger park doesn't contain groves of sequoias, deep valleys and canyons, and the iconic rock formations of this Northern California beauty. Kings Canyon holds the distinction of being the deepest canyon in the entire United States, even deeper than the Grand Canyon! Over a mile and a half stand between the canyon edge and its base, all of it dotted with sequoias, cedars, and more. The park is also home to Redwood Canyon, the largest sequoia tree grove left in the world! Between Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon, there are over 1,000 miles of trails to explore. Horseback riding, bird-watching, and camping are also extremely popular activities at Kings Canyon National Park.
Perhaps the most famous park protecting the grand sequoias is aptly named Sequoia National park. In the depths of Sierra Nevada, Sequoia National Park is famous for its massive trees, including General Sherman, one of the largest on earth. Spanning over 400,000 acres, this beloved park contains five of the ten largest trees on the planet, located in the Giant Forest region. The land now recognized as Sequoia National Park was once home to the Monachee Native Americans. Pictographs are still visible on many of the park's landmarks, including Hospital Rock and Potwisha.
Los Padres National Forest
Welcome to Los Padres National Forest, the home of 1.75 million acres of Central California's Coast and Transverse Mountain Ranges. The entire national forest is 220 miles North to South and holds 400 miles of streams and rivers. On top of that, it also holds 37 lakes, 2 California Condor sanctuaries, the Big Sur Coast, and the Jacinto Reyes 38-mile Scenic Byway. Talk about a lot to see and do! There is an extremely wide variety of trees within this forest area, including 18,900 acres of Jeffrey Pine, Redwood, Douglas fir, White Fir, and tons of types of Oaks!
Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park is technically not a 'forest', but rather a largely desert-like area within Southern California. Its namesake, however, is the Joshua Tree, a twisted, bristled, unique species of tree that makes us want to include it in this guide. The Joshua Tree is actually the largest species of Yucca, a natural desert plant. It has spiked leaves and can grow up to 15-40 feet, growing a couple of inches a year. They can live up to 150 years on average.