In a California State of Mind

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Friday, Sep 9 2022 by

When California joined the United States as the 31st state on September 9, 1850, it was seen as a land unlike any other place in the country. Massive trees that reached to heaven, mountains filled with gold to make men millionaires, deserts that stretched hundreds of miles, beaches with beautiful vistas, and so much more.

Let’s take a look at some of California’s natural wonders that make it “The land of milk and honey”.

Presidio Park, San Diego

While California has been inhabited for thousands of years, Spanish explorers  in the 1500s wanted to settle, farm, and develop the land. The first permanent European settlement in California, and on the west coast of the US, was in present-day San Diego. The Presidio of San Diego served as a base for religious and cultural expansion.

While the original structure no longer exists, the area on which the Presidio once stood has been turned into a lovely park and declared a National Historic Landmark.

There’s no better way to start a journey of California’s highlights than at the San Diego Presidio Park, where you can enjoy the beauty of the land, the bay, and the city all at once.

Presidio Park (Google Maps)
Presidio Park

Yosemite National Park

One of the most breathtaking areas in California is on the east side of the state, in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. Gorgeous granite cliffs, ancient rock formations, stunning waterfalls, and amazing forested valleys reward any visitor. John Muir and others worked to protect the unique area, and it was set aside as first a state park and then a national park.

Yosemite National Park (Google Maps)
Yosemite National Park

Half Dome on the south end of the park is one of its most recognizable features. The smooth granite looks like a dome cut in half, and was for a long time believed to be impossible to climb. These days, routes have been anchored into the side of the rocks, making it so popular that at times in the summer, it’s actually crowded!

Half Dome in Yosemite National Park (StreetView)
Half Dome in Yosemite National Park

El Capitan

On the north end, El Capitan is another granite formation that attracts visitors from around the world. The 3,000 foot monolith juts out of the valley below, beckoning  talented and adventurous climbers from around the world to scale the steep face.

El Capitan (StreetView)
El Capitan

Lake Tahoe

Just a few hours north, a short drive in California terms, is world-famous Lake Tahoe. The large alpine lake draws global visitors who want to see one of the largest lakes in the world, surrounded by picturesque vistas, varied wildlife, and lots of outdoor activities.

Lake Tahoe (Google Maps)
Lake Tahoe

Now partly a national park on California’s side (and dotted with casinos on Nevada’s side), Lake Tahoe has a reputation as an upscale and trendy place to visit, whether it’s in the summer for water and mountain activities, or in the winter for amazing skiing, complete with breathtaking lake views.

High Atop Heavenly Valley Ski Resort (StreetView)
High Atop Heavenly Valley Ski Resort

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park in the Mojave Desert is otherworldly, a desert landscape named after the unique tree whose branches reach out like arms, with bushy leaves like arms and fingers. The tree’s roots can reach 30 feet or more under the ground, and trees can survive in the desert for more than a thousand years.

The national parks is larger than the state of Rhode Island, which emphasizes just how big California is, as the second-largest state in the Union.

Joshua Tree National Park (StreetView)
Joshua Tree National Park

Big Sur

California is known for its beaches, and Big Sur is the largest stretch of undeveloped coastline in the contiguous United States. People love to drive on Route 1, checking out the views of the coast, and enjoy the smaller cities and towns along the way. Andrew Molera State Park is a beautiful, undeveloped, rocky beach area.

Molera Point (StreetView)
Molera Point

Bixby Creek Bridge

Big Sur doesn’t just include the gorgeous beaches, but rocky mountains and deep valleys along Route 1. Bixby Creek Bridge is an architectural marvel, at 290 feet above the ground below, and with the ocean stretching out forever, making it both a little intimidating to cross, and unforgettable.

Bixby Creek Bridge (StreetView)
Bixby Creek Bridge

Redwood National Park

California is home to not one but two of the biggest trees in the world! Redwoods, a form of sequoia that have adapted to the foggy, coastal climate, stretch up to almost 400 feet high! They are the tallest trees in the world!

Redwood National Park and Redwood State Park have set aside thousands of acres of forests along the coast, protecting the ancient trees from further deforestation. Tourists flock to the area to view these natural wonders, as well as enjoy the rocky coastline that is so different than the sandy, hot beaches of southern California.

Redwood National Park (StreetView)
Redwood National Park

General Sherman, Sequoia National Park

A few hundred miles east are the other famous California trees: the giant sequoias of Sequoia National Park. General Sherman is considered the biggest tree, because it has the widest trunk and is the largest living single-stem tree in the world.

Other trees of this size have been felled by storms and people, so having a national park to protect the plants is an important development. It allows people to view and enjoy the remarkable, ancient trees for years to come, and allows them to grow, thrive, and do their part to keep our planet healthy and green.

Tourists come from around the world to marvel at the living phenomenon, and appreciate the variety and wonder that nature has created.

General Sherman (StreetView)
General Sherman

California has a reputation for being bigger and better, with more people, more land, more celebrities, more of everything. And this list certainly proves that the state has a lot to be proud of, with some of the most amazing natural marvels in the 50 United States.