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California Nature Trail

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Soak up the vast beauty of some of America’s most prized national parks on this venture through Yosemite and Big Sur. Start your trip in the fascinating city of San Francisco, major technology hub and home to Haight Street, Ghirardelli Square and the Golden Gate Bridge, before reconnecting with Mother Nature on this illustrious path.

The first stop is Yosemite National Park, just a few hours east of San Francisco. Yosemite’s pristine landscape is filled with rushing waterfalls, imposing cliffs and colossal monoliths. Popular sites within the park include El Capitan, Half Dome and Tuolumne Meadows. Make sure to plan in advance, as Yosemite hosts 3.5 million visitors annually and it’s necessary to book ahead if you plan to stay in or around the park.

Following Yosemite, travel south to Kings Canyon in Sequoia National Parks, home to the gargantuan Redwood and Sequoia trees. Park and follow foot trails leading high into the alpine wilderness. Next, head west toward the Pacific Ocean to Big Sur, frequently noted as the best view along the Pacific Coast Highway. There’s plenty of space to camp in Big Sur State Park, or a selection of hotels in the town of Big Sur for those seeking a more luxurious option.

Just a quick drive (less than one hour) going north up the coast and you’ll reach Point Lobos State Preserve, hailed “the crown jewel of the State Park System”. Here you can partake in a range of activities from scuba diving to photography to nature study. Point Lobos is home to a variety of unique and endangered flora and fauna, so enjoy these rare finds before heading off to Monterey Bay, where you can relax in the towns of Carmel or Pebble Beach.

The final two stops on this extraordinary road trip are Ano Nuevo State Park and Big Basin Redwoods State Park. Check out the Northern Elephant Seal at Ano Nuevo, home to the largest breeding colony of this mammal. Book in advance during winter, as it is peak mating season. Last but not least, travel to California’s oldest state park, Big Basin, home to the largest continuous habitation of ancient coast redwoods south of San Francisco.

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