California National Parks - Northern California
The National Park Service overseas 23 different National Parks in California, 13 of which are located in Northern California. The state's National Parks offer visitors a wide variety of adventures -- from historical and cultural experiences to natural wonders, which cannot be seen anywhere else on earth.
The San Francisco Bay area alone is home to a wealth of historical locations and national parks that preserve the history and the natural beauty of the area.
For more details about each of the specific national parks in Northern California (directions, hours, fees, history, things to do, maps, etc.), click on the park name or picture below to view the official National Park Service site for that particular park.
The "America the Beautiful" pass covers entrance to hundreds of National Parks in California and across the US. Learn more...
Northern California National Parks (Listed alphabetically)
Alcatraz Island (San Francisco Bay) - A short ferry ride into the San Francisco Bay will take you to Alcatraz Island. The history of Alcatraz is surprising to many. It was a Civil War fortress, an infamous federal penitentiary (closed in 1963), a bird sanctuary and the first lighthouse on the West Coast. The tour of the prison is a highlight of Bay Area attractions! In addition to the historical significance, there is also a natural side to "the Rock," where you'll find gardens, tide pools, bird colonies and incomparable bay views. It is now a sanctuary for seabirds and is a premier spot for viewing cormorants, pigeon guillemots, snowy egrets and black-crowned night herons.
Eugene O'Neill National Historical Site (Danville) - Located in the Town of Danville (in the East Bay), about 45 minutes from San Francisco. This is the home where Eugene O'Neill (America's only Nobel Prize winning playwright), lived at the climax of his career. Isolated in this home, he wrote his most memorable plays: The Iceman Cometh, Long Day's Journey Into Night, and A Moon for the Misbegotten. The annual Eugene O'Neill Festival takes place in September.
Fort Point National Historical Site (Presidio of San Francisco) - Located at the narrows of the Golden Gate, where the Pacific Ocean becomes the San Francisco Bay, Fort Point has stood guard at the for nearly 150 years. It's been called “the pride of the Pacific” and “the Gibraltar of the West Coast." Due to its strategic location, Fort Point protected San Francisco and its harbor from attack during and after the U.S. Civil War. As you might imagine, the vistas are spectacular! And you can easily walk or drive across the Golden Gate Bridge.
Golden Gate National Recreation Area (San Francisco) - Located in San Francisco, Golden Gate National Parks covers over 200 years of history: From Native American culture; to the Spanish Empire frontier; to the Mexican Republic; to the California Gold Rush; to the evolution of American coastal fortifications; and, finally, to the growth of the city of San Francisco.
John Muir National Historical Site (Martinez) - Located across the Bay from San Francisco (in the East Bay), this site preserves the Victorian home of the noted author and preservationist, John Muir. It is surrounded by 9 acres of fruit orchards and 326 acres of oak woodland -- representing just a small piece of the original 2,600 acre ranch. John Muir is known as "Father of the National Park Service" because of his interest in preserving our country's greatest treasures.
Lassen Volcanic National Park (Mineral) - Lassen is located southeast of Redding in central northern California. When you visit Lassen Volcanic National Park, you observe a moment in the ancient and never-ending battle between the earth-shaping forces of creation and destruction in California. Within its peaceful forests and untouched wilderness, you'll find hissing fumaroles and boiling mud pots that continue to shape and change the land -- evidence of Lassen’s long and fiery past.
Lava Beds National Monument (Tulelake) - Just south of the Oregon border, you'll find Lava Beds National Monument. It is a land of both geological and historical turmoil. Over the past half-million years, volcanic eruptions have created a rugged landscape with diverse volcanic features. You'll find more than 700 caves, Native American rock art sites, historic battlefields and campsites, and a high desert wilderness experience.
Muir Woods National Monument (Mill Valley) - Named after John Muir, Muir Woods is located in Marin County -- 12 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge. It is part of the Golden Gate Recreation Area. Muir Woods contains 6 miles of trails -- all of which afford views of thousands of old-growth coast redwoods, the tallest living things in the world.
Point Reyes National Seashore (Point Reyes) - Thirty miles north of San Francisco, the Pacific coast forms a triangular peninsula. This stretch of isolated land is known as the Point Reyes National Seashore. Over 150 miles of trails wind through the rolling hills and meadows of Point Reyes. However, the main attraction is the 60 miles of shoreline. Many spots are easily accessible by car and the entire area is completely explorable on foot.
Presidio (San Francisco - Part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area) - For over 200 years, the Presidio served as an army post and as a site for world and local events. Military campaigns, the rise of aviation, World Fairs and earthquakes have all left their mark on the Presidio. You can enjoy the history and beauty of the Presidio by exploring centuries of architecture and the national cemetery. You can also walk through an historic airfield, forests and beaches -- and best of all, admire incomparable views!
Redwood National Park (Del Norte & Humboldt Counties) - Redwood National Park is located on the northwest Pacific coast of California, between Klamath Glen (on the north) and Trinidad (on the south border of the park). There are nearly 200 miles of walking trails to lead you among the redwoods, which are the tallest trees on Earth. Between the Monterey Peninsula and the Oregon border, redwoods grow in a narrow band, from the shore up to 30 miles inland, with the largest specimens usually found just a few miles from the ocean, where growing conditions are optimum.
San Fransisco Maritime Historical Park (San Francisco) - This park is located in the Fisherman's Wharf neighborhood of San Francisco -- right on the edge of the Bay. It offers the sights, sounds, smells and stories of Pacific Coast maritime history and is a popular year-round attraction. From the Visitor's Center, Rangers will point you toward Hyde Street Pier -- an easy walk to visit the park’s collection of floating historic ships (such as the Balclutha) and for spectacular views of the San Francisco Bay and Golden Gate Bridge.
Yosemite National Park (Western Sierra Nevadas) - See Central California National Parks
Whiskeytown National Recreation Area (Whiskeytown) - Located 8 miles west of Redding, the park is situated at the juncture of the Klamath Mountain range and the northern edge of the Sacramento Valley. It is home to a varied collection of animal and plant life. Some of the park’s features are Whiskeytown Lake, Shasta Bally (6,209' at its summit) and numerous spectacular waterfalls. The park provides a multitude of opportunities for water recreation, hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding.
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