California Locations: details and photos from points of interest in California, click photo to enlarge
Alabama Hills (2011, 2014)
Alabama hills is an area where many western movies were filmed. The area is close to the village of Lone PIne. In Lone Pine a film museum and the visitor center can be found. Lone Pine has some hotels and restaurants, so it is a good starting point for visits to Alabama Hills. The special rock formations are alongside the Movie Road. Via short trails the rocks and arches can be visited.
In 2011 when we were in the area, it was a staggering 37 degrees Celcius. In 2014 it was 30 degrees. Truly a hot desert!
Ancient Birstlecone Pine Forest (2011)
The forest with very old trees is located at an elevation of 3000 meters in the mountains. Knarly trees are everywhere, the oldest is 5000 years old.
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (2015)
This state park is one of the most extensive in the USA. Interesting sites are far apart, and hard to get to. This is due to the many unpaved roads. In the village of Borrego Springs many iron sculptures are on display. There are about 300 pieces of art scattered in the landscap, so there is a lot to see. We spent hours in the area. We also did 2 short hikes: to Borrego Palm Canyon, a nice walk to an oasis with Palm trees; and the second to “the Slot”. This trail can be reached via a 3 kilometer dirt-road which was in a good condition.
Bay of Monterey (2010, 2011, 2014)
Northern part – Natural Bridges State Beach (June 2014): The beach with the natural arch is located in Santa Cruz. In winter months monarch butterflies can be spotted.
Southern part – Monterey Bay city (December 2010, June 2011): Montery Bay Aquarium is located on Cannery Row, a very busy street in the city of Monterey Bay. In the famous aquarium large kelp displays can be seen, lots of aquariums with jelly fish and many more.
Southern part – 17 Mile drive (June 2011): Driving on the Peninsula of Monterey along the 17 Mile drive will be a few hours well spent. Several viewpoints have been created on which a lot of intersting things can be seen: passing whales, seals, sea lions, and ground squirrels.
Bodie State Historic Park (2011)
Bodie is supposedly one of the least commercial ghost towns in the USA. The houses are located in a large area. In one of the buildings is a small museum. We loved to browse this place for a few hours. In some buildings the old furniture is kept in good condition. There are no dressed-up people in Bodie.
Cabrillo National Monument (2015)
In 1542 Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo was the first European to land on the west coast of the USA. This small park, close to San Diego, remembers his arrival. We did not think that the park was very interesting.
Calico Ghost Town (2014)
Calico is not as much fun as Bodie, but a it is a nice place to send an hour or so. Main activity in Calico used to be exploitation of silver mines.
Coastal highway 1 - San Francisco to North (2009, 2011)
From South (San Francisco) to North California border with Oregon):
San Francisco (Xmas 2009) is one of the few nice cities to visit in the US.
Point Reyes National Seashore (Xmas December 2009) main feature were the elephant seals.
Bowling Ball Beach (June 2011): directly opposite Schooner Gulch Road is the entrance to Bowling Ball Beach. A small parking can support just a few cars. The northern trail leads to Bowling Ball Beach, there are no signs. The southern trail leads to another beach, with no access to Bowling Ball Beach. When reaching the shore, some climbing is necessary to descend. The balls are about 10 minutes walk to the north, and invisible from the beach-entry.
Glass Beach and MacKerricher State Park (June 2011) are located a bit north of Fort Bragg. The colored beach originates from the waste of a glass factory. The sea has polished the glass, and deposited some on the beach. In the last years, a lot of glass has been collected, so it is a bit disappointing to see how few remnants are left. On MacKerrichers beach seals can be seen. A board walk leads to location where often sea lions are resting.
Coastal highway 1/101 - San Francisco to Los Angeles (2014, 2015)
From North (San Francisco) to South (Los Angeles) excluding Bay of Monterey:
Bean Hollow State Beach (June 2014): Bean Hollow was a surprise. Some very nice rock formation can be found on the beach.There are 2 entrances: on the north side “Pebble Beach”, the south side has the rock formation. Both are worth a visit.
Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (December 2014) is a bunch of small national parks, together forming the recreation area. The location is directly north of Los Angeles. We did a few hikes, nice but never really outstanding.
Los Angeles (December 2015): One of the things to do in Los Angeles is go on a whale-watch tour in Long Beach; Go to the beach and take a walk for instance to Huntington Beach, during sunset there are some nice views on the pier.
Death Valley National Park (2014)
Death vally is the deepest point in the US, 86 meters below sea level. It usally is extremely hot. In May 2014 the termperature was 114 Fahrenheit, or 47 degrees Celcius), to hot to do some hiking. In winter 2014 temperatures were a lot more pleasant (70 F, or 20 C). During this winter visit there was a lot of rain, this happens about once per 10 years. We were able to visit many sites, and even rented a Jeep Rubicon to visit the Race track.
Devil's Postpile National Monument (2014)
The monument is about 10 miles from Mammth Lakes inthe Sierra Nevada. It is usually late in the season that the park is accessible and free of snow. It can be reached via long and narrow winding road. So it takes quite some time to reach the basalt pillars. These kind of formation are a rare sight.
D.L. Bliss State Park (2011)
D.L. Bliss is located on the south-western side of Lake Tahoe. Some nice walks can be done on the lake shores.
Imperial Sand Dunes & North Algodones Dunes (2015)
The 2 area’s with dunes are connected to each other. On the Imperial Sand Dunes off-road driving with motor cycles and quads/ATVs is popular. In North Algodones on the other side of the high way, off-road driving is not allowed. It feels it bit safer to walk. Dunes are a bit lower in Algodones. Dunes are most beautiful after wind and after sunrise or before sunset.
Joshua Tree National Park (2001, 2013, 2015)
The park is in the south of California. It is a desert park. Special features are the “Joshua Trees” and the granite rock formation. After a first exploration in 2001, we visited again in 2013. That year we only did a few short trails, as it is was very hot at the time. There are many trails of about a mile, so the park is prepaired for the heat. In December 2015 we wanted to find a specific feature, of a pinetree and needle rock. This is a famous natural “geo-cache” that can be found a lot on the Internet.
La Jolla (2015)
La Jolla is the name of a city adjacent to San Diego. The coast line is very beautiful, many tidal pools can be seen. Children’s pool is the biggest attraction for all the seals that live there. In December the beach is closed because harbor seals have their pups. A bit futher down sea liions, pelicans and verious types of sea birds are resting.
Lassen Volcanic National Park (2011)
Unfortunately large parts of the park were still closed due to snow. We were only able to visit Sulphur Works and the Cinder Cone. On the cinder cone there is a spectacular trail to the crater.
Lava Beds National Monument (2015)
For anybody who likes to visits volcano parks, this is a nice one to visit. Lava tubes, cinder cones and lava fields can be found here.
Mojave National Preserve (2014)
Mojave National Preserve is managed by the National Park Service, but in 2014 was still free to enter. It is very hot during summer, but in winter the temperature was very pleasant. It is about 20 degrees Celcius. Mojave is a volcanic desert area with: lava fields, dunes, mountains and plains with desert vegetation.
Mono Lake (2011, 2014)
The lake is very old. It is 10 times saltier as the sea. In the water pilars, so called tufas have formed. In the water small flies and larvae live, who are food for gulls. June apparently is not the best month for the flies, there were no gulls in 2011 and also not in 2014.
Salton Sea (2015)
As the name already suggests, the Salton sea is a lake with salt water. Birds are the main attraction. As there were not so many, it was not very interesting.
Torrey Pines State National Reserve (2015)
In this park rare trees can be found. For us the most interesting part was the beach, with it’s colorful rocks.
Trona Pinnacles (2014)
In the village of Trona a dry lake with tufas can be found. Tufas are calium caron deposits dating from the Pleistocene. The tufas were formed underwater, some 10.000 to 100.000 years ago. It is very nice for a visit of an hour or so. Entry is via a dirt road of about 5 kilometer. Due rainfall the road was only accessible with high clearance vehicles.
Yosemite National Park (2011, 2014)
Beautiful waterfalls and granite walls are the main attractions of Yosemite. It is one of the busiest national parks in the US. We mainly stayed on the valley floor in 2011. The Tioga pass was still closed.
In 2014 the Tioga pass was open.