5 Must Visit National Parks Near Los Angeles

From the coastal beaches to the wooded forests, California is home to numerous outdoor attractions, including some of the most spectacular National Parks ever built. Thankfully, many of these National Parks near Los Angeles are located within just a short drive, which means you can enjoy both the scenic natural setting and a vibrant city landscape in one visit.

If you’re planning a trip to Los Angeles, then you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to parks and outdoor attractions. It’s worth staying an extra few days to explore the abundance of natural paradises that lie outside the city limits.

In this guide, we’re covering some of the best national parks near Los Angeles you won’t want to miss during your trip. Each park is organized by distance, and driving time to help make planning your visit a bit easier.

*Money Saving Tip* Consider purchasing the Annual Pass “America The Beautiful” which includes admission to the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands in the USA. The pass is $80 and valid for an entire year from when it is purchased, click here for more details. You can purchase online and they’ll ship you the pass or you can purchase in person at any of the National Parks. 


National Parks Near Los Angeles

 

 
 
 
 
 
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1. Joshua Tree National Park 

  • Lost Angeles to Joshua Tree Drive Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Distance: 130 miles

At the intersection of Mojave and Colorado desert sits Joshua Tree National Park. Named after the poky Yucca (Joshua) trees that are scattered throughout the park is a picturesque landscape of desert shrubland, wildflower valleys, and massive boulders, which offer some of the best rock-climbing experiences of any national park in the US.

Hikers will also have numerous trails to choose from. Warren Peak is a moderate three-mile trek that winds through canyon and Yucca tree groves, while the leisurely Hidden Valley Nature Trail is a flat one-mile walk alongside the towing rock formations.

  • Hours: 24 hours
  • Admission: $30/per vehicle for a 7-day permit
  • Address: 74485 National Park Drive Twentynine Palms, CA 92277

Aerial view of Channel Island National Park near LA

2. Channel Islands National Park

  • Los Angeles to Channel Islands National Park Drive Time: 1 hour 15 min to Oxnard (nearest town)
  • Distance: 61 miles to Oxnard (nearest town)

The five islands that make up Channel Island National Park are all located in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Southern California. With the ideal mix of land and water-based activities, guests can spend their time hiking, spearfishing, scuba diving, and kayaking.

In addition, there are over 2,000 different species of plants and animals that live within the area, 145 that can’t be found anywhere else in the entire world.

  • Hours: 24 hours
  • Admission: Free
  • Address: 1901 Spinnaker Drive Ventura, CA 93001

Related Article: 2 Days in Los Angeles On a Budget

Woman standing in tunnel log inside of Sequoia National Park - California Road Trip

3. Sequoia National Park

  • Los Angeles to Sequoia National Park Drive Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Distance: 200 miles

Famous for the towering 200-foot sequoia trees that cover a majority area of the land, Sequoia National Park is a slice of wooded paradise. Hikers and outdoors adventurists can easily spend the day trekking through the forests where they’ll find granite rock formations, mountainous peaks, and even cascading waterfalls.

Don’t forget to visit the General Sherman Tree. Standing 275-feet tall, General Sherman is the largest living tree on the planet.

  • Hours: 24 hours
  • Admission: $35/car for a 7-day permit
  • Address: 47050 Generals Highway Three Rivers, CA 93271

Related Article: Things to do in Santa Cruz

Death Valley National Park View

4. Death Valley National Park

  • Los Angeles to Death Valley National Park Drive Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Distance: 215 miles 

Although Death Valley National Park is known for being the driest and hottest place on earth (it has recorded temperatures above 130 degrees), it’s also a spectacular place to see rolling sand dunes, dried-up salt pans, and barren desert plains. Here, you’ll also find the Badwater Basin, which is the lowest point on the entire continent sitting 282 feet below sea level.

  • Hours: 24 hours
  • Admission: $30/car for a 7-day permit

Insider Tip: We suggest tying in a few nights in Las Vegas. The drive from Death Valley National to Las Vegas is just over 2 hours. There are a ton of things to do in Vegas it’s worth a few nights!

Yosemite Merced River el Capitan and Half Dome in California National Parks US

5. Yosemite National Park

  • Los Angeles to Yosemite National Park Drive Time: 4 hours 45 minutes
  • Distance: 280 miles

Situated on the western edge of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, Yosemite National Park is one of the most iconic parks in all of California. With a diverse mix is mountains, forests, and lakes, it’s also the perfect backdrop for numerous outdoor activities – these include hiking, rock climbing, and even skiing (in the winter, of course).

Snap a few pictures of Half Dome and El Captain, two monstrous rock formations that loom over the park. You’ll find numerous trails around these two peaks, including the iconic Half Done Peak Trail.

  • Hours: 24 hours
  • Admission: $35/car for a 7-day permit

What is your favorite national park near Los Angeles? We’d love to hear from you!

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