RV Adventure: Winter in State and National Parks of Southern California

This winter, take a trip around Southern California and within just a few hours’ drive you’ll be able to see oceans and beaches, islands, snowcapped mountains for skiing or snowboarding and lots of unique scenery in between, with infinite variety of Southern California landscapes.

State Parks of Southern California:

With 280 state parks, over 340 miles of coastline, 970 miles of lake and river frontage, 15,000 campsites, and 4,500 miles of trails, California contains the largest and most diverse recreational, natural and cultural locations of any state in the nation.

In Los Angeles County alone, there are more than 30 state parks to choose from. Orange County offers visitors another 6 state parks and San Diego County has about 15 more state parks to visit. Visitors can choose to visit the Tijuana Estuary, the largest coastal wetland in Southern California, located on the international border between the US and Mexico.

The estuary, often called an “intermittent estuary” is primarily a shallow water habitat, which is prone to extreme changes in stream flow at different times of the year. With extended periods of draught, many parts of the estuary are left dry, while at other times, it can be subject to flooding. For that reason, the Tijuana Estuary is considered a unique part of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System. The Tijuana River Estuary is one of the few salt marshes remaining in Southern California, where over 90% of wetland habitat has been lost to development. The site is an essential breeding, feeding and nesting ground and key stopover point on the Pacific Flyway for over 370 species of migratory and native birds, including six endangered species.

The Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve offers another spectacular view in Los Angeles County. Blooming poppies blanket the reserve in spring with their bold orange color. Every bloom is quite amazing. If you plan your trip in advance, you may catch this phenomenon. If you are looking to find the exact location of a particular flower or plant, the park ranger staff can point you to the right trails when you arrive.

Check each of the California State Parks for camping availability and to determine which allow RV Camping before you arrive.

California National Parks:

Within just a few hours’ drive of Los Angeles, you can find Pinnacles National Park, the Channel Islands National Park, Cabrillo National Monument and Joshua Tree National Park. Named for its founder, Juan Rodgriguez Cabrillo, the first European to set foot on what is now the west coast of the United States, Cabrillo National Park is home to a wealth of cultural and natural resources.

Pinnacles National Park was formed about 23 million years ago from the eruption of various volcanoes and a unique landscape still remains. Travelers can journey through chaparral, oak woodlands, and canyon bottoms. Hikers enter rare talus caves and emerge to towering rock spires, teeming with life including prairie and peregrine falcons, golden eagles, and the inspiring California condor. Bird watchers and hikers alike will find amazing treasures in Pinnacles National Park.

The Channel Islands are near Ventura, encompassing five remarkable islands in their ocean environment. This park preserves and protects a wealth of natural and cultural resources. Isolation over thousands of years has created unique animals, plants, and archeological resources found nowhere else on Earth. The Channel Islands has helped preserve a place where visitors can experience coastal southern California as it once was.

Named for its founder, Juan Rodgriguez Cabrillo, the first European to set foot on what is now the west coast of the United States, Cabrillo National Park is home to a wealth of cultural and natural resources. At the southern tip of San Diego, this is a part with unique views of the Pacific Ocean and more. Visitors can climb to the statue of Cabrillo and see natural plant and animal life of Southern California here.

Two distinct desert ecosystems, the Mojave and the Colorado, come together in Joshua Tree National Park. About 3 hours east of Los Angeles, Joshua Tree displays a fascinating variety of plants and animals that make their homes in a land sculpted by strong winds and occasional torrents of rain. Dark night skies, a rich cultural history, and surreal geologic features

add to the wonder of this vast wilderness in southern California. Joshua Tree is located in southern California between I-10 and Hwy 62; its headquarters is in Twenty Nine Palms, CA.

And the hottest, driest and lowest National Park is Death Valley National Park, bordering Nevada and California. Here you will see a below-sea-level basin, which steady drought and record summer heat have made this park a land of extremes. These extremes make Death Valley a rare picture of contrasts: towering peaks are frosted with winter snow. Rare rainstorms bring vast fields of wildflowers. Lush oases harbor tiny fish and refuge for wildlife and humans. Despite the name, there is a great diversity of life surviving in Death Valley.


Need to Rent an RV?

If you’d like to rent an RV for your southern California adventure, start by checking our California El Monte RV Rental locations. There are 5 southern California rental locations to choose from. This page also contains much more information about traveling by RV in California so be sure to check it out when planning your next RV adventure.

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