National Parks near San Diego

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If you’re spending your family vacation in San Diego, you may want to take some trips out of the city itself and explore some of the surrounding areas.  If your family loves nature and outdoor activities you will be pleased to hear that there are several fantastic national parks within just a few hours’ drive of the city.  Some are perfect for day trips, whereas others you may want to turn into a mini break and stay for a night or two.

You may have read our pieces on great national parks in the USA, and even more top national parks … Now here are some excellent national parks specifically near to San Diego:

Yosemite National Park


A popular national park in the southern part of California, Yosemite National Park is also often said to be amongst the best national parks in the whole of the USA.  The fascinating landscapes were created thousands and thousands of years ago, with the rocks carved and shaped by enormous glaciers.  Your little ones may find it hard to believe that the whole area was once an icy wonderland!  Whilst there are several scenic driving routes, make sure that you do get out and explore some parts by foot to give the whole family that amazing wow factor!  You will also stand a better chance of spotting a variety of local flora and fauna as you walk around.  If you’re feeling active, you could even have a go at kayaking and fishing.

Lassen Volcanic National Park


A fabulously rugged place, where everyone can be in awe of nature and her sometimes devastating powers, the gorgeous Lassen Volcanic National Park was created by a massive eruption in the first quarter of the 20thcentury.  You can explore the volcanic landscapes, marvelling at the flora and fauna that have reclaimed parts of the rocky terrain.  See the impressive Lassen Peak – the biggest known volcanic cone in the world.  See a variety of hot springs and bubbling pools, with the strong smell of sulphur assaulting your nostrils!  There are great hiking tracks to be enjoyed in the summer months, and the winters offer terrific skiing and Nordic walking.

Pinnacles National Park


With its sharp, steep, and jagged spikes and its yawning and plunging canyons, the Pinnacles National Park is filled with contrasts.  Amongst the local creatures are the rare California condor, a bird that is now only in the wild thanks to breeding, conservation, and reintroduction programs.  Created by the dramatic ripping apart of a volcano that sat on the San Andreas fault line, the ancient landscapes are a sight to behold.  There are caves to explore as well as walking trails and climbing routes.

Death Valley National Park


Make sure to pack plenty of bottled water and sunscreen for a trip to this scorching and unforgiving desert park!  Springtime and winters are usually considered the best times to visit.  It is the hottest and driest place in all of North America.  The scenes of the badlands are, however, amazing, with a riot of colours painting the landscapes and capturing imaginations.  The large park is home to verdant oases, fascinating rock formations, gaping canyons, rolling dunes, enormous salt flats, ancient rock art, and a variety of creatures, many of which only venture out at night time after the temperatures have cooled down a bit.

Other great national parks near San Diego include Joshua Tree National Park and the adjacent Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

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