California’s Least-Visited National Parks: The Coolest Places in America


These Californian national parks, one of the coolest places in America, are a sight and experience to behold. Although they do not get as many visitors as Yosemite, and these are not the usual US national parks tourists from all over the world visit, these three are equally deserving of the world’s attention.

1. Lassen Volcanic National Park


(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Bumpass Hell and Lassen Peak lie five hours north of the San Francisco Bay. Smoldering mud pots, bloody-looking hillsides, boiling springs, and belching sulfur vents come to view. However, close to every smoking vent is an ice-blue lake, waterfall, and alpine mountain peak like no other.

Bumpass Hell and Lassen Peak

The Bumpass Hell trail is perfect for hiking and nature trips. The path is a holistic experience for the senses – not just visual, but also for your auditory and olfactory senses. Hikers experience Lassen’s hydrothermal space through the trail.

Lassen Peak is a 10,457-foot lava dome-one of the largest on Earth and a picturesque sight when you visit Lake Helen. Lake Helen is covered in ice from October to July, and it is considered the snowiest place in the state.

Kings Creek and Mill Creek Waterfalls

After a short hike from the main road, the path will lead you to Kings Creek Falls. If you follow the Mill Creek Trail close to the southern park, you will see some wildflower-covered hills, then towards the 70-foot Mill Creek Falls, which is the highest falls in Lassen.

Cinder Cone and Painted Dunes

To conclude your visit to Lassen Volcanic, go to the far side of the park. The Cinder Cone and Painted Dunes lie on the eastern side. The landscape is quite odd; this is a remnant of an eruption in the 18th century. A hike to the top is quite challenging, but you will see Lassen Peak up the trail.

2. Channel Islands National Park


(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

This place is home to numerous endemic animal and plant species. It is situated off the coastline of Santa Barbara and Ventura, and is regarded as the ‘Galapagos of North America.’

You may kayak into a vast sea cave, swim through lush kelp beds, and see sea creatures. Snorkeling, kayaking, and diving are popular activities to do on the islands.

Santa Cruz Island

The hike from Santa Cruz Island to Smuggler’s Cove will reveal barren hillsides dotted with endangered plants. When you arrive at Smuggler’s Cove, waves are pounding the beach, the bright blue waters, and the vistas make the island extremely interesting.

Towards another direction from the island is Cavern Point. The Pacific is a panoramic view that extends for miles. Small island foxes also thrive in this place.

3. Pinnacles National Park


(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

This newest member of the National Park system is packed with caves, rare bird habitat, and volcanic rock structures. The park has no through road, but it has two entrances. For campers, the eastern entrance near Hollister must be used as the western entrance outside Soledad is for daytime use only.

Rock climbers can enjoy the volcanic rock structures. Pinnacles also have two talus caves: Bear Gulch and Balconies. You can also witness falcons and hawks nesting, as well as bat colonies in Pinnacles.

Chalone Peak and High Peaks

Hiking the Chalone Peak will give you a view of the Salinas Valley, the Gavilan Range, and the Santa Lucia Range. Hiking through High Peaks Trail will provide you with a better glimpse at the national park’s volcanic history and perhaps a chance to spot the rare California condor.

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