No California 7e - Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. Photo © Juliegrondin/Dreamstime.

Hiking the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest

Bishop is a great jumping-off point for travelers to explore the little visited Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. Located in a section of the Inyo National Forest in the White Mountains. this is where the world’s oldest trees reside. Three hiking trails begin right outside the Bristlecone Pine Forest Visitors Center.

Avenue of the Giants. Photo © Suppavut Varutbangkul/123rf.

Explore Humboldt Redwoods State Park

Surprisingly, the largest stand of unlogged redwood trees isn’t on the coast, and it isn’t in the Sierras; it’s here in Humboldt, bisected by U.S. 101. Come to this park to hike and camp beneath the 300-foot-plus old-growth trees of the Avenue of the Giants, and cool off with a swim or boat trip down the Eel River.

The Pacific Coast Highway. Photo © Dreamstime.

Planning a PCH Road Trip

The Pacific Coast Highway is an epic journey, offering up 1,700 astounding miles to those with playful hearts and the passion for adventure. Expert author and Pacific Northwest resident Victoriah Arsenian offers advice on the best times of year to hit the road, tips on both high- and low-season conditions, and highlights of each region from the Washington Coast to sunny Southern California.

Downtown Guerneville. Photo © Elizabeth Linhart Veneman.

Guerneville, California’s LGBT Resort Town

There are a number of wineries in California’s Guerneville area, but most people come here to float, canoe, or kayak the gorgeous Russian River that winds from Healdsburg all the way to the Pacific Ocean at Jenner. Guerneville is also a very popular gay and lesbian resort area. The rainbow flag flies proudly here, and the friendly community welcomes all.

View from Granite Point Trail at Point Lobos. Photo © Ken Wolter/123rf.

Visit Carmel’s Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

The Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is filled with ragged cliffs, hidden coves, rich marine ecosystems, lovely meadows, and dense pine and cypress forests. Hiking trails crisscross the reserve, the most spectacular of which hug the coastline. Point Lobos might be even more famous for what lies beneath the water than above it; underwater protected areas are home to a diverse marine ecosystem that includes 70-foot high kelp forests.

A black bear in Sequoia National Park. Photo © Nstanev/Dreamstime.

Wilderness Safety in Northern California

If you’re planning a backcountry expedition in northern California, follow all rules and guidelines for obtaining wilderness permits and for self-registration at trailheads. National and state park visitors centers can advise in more detail on any health or wilderness alerts in the area. Additionally, brush up on your wilderness safety; here’s how to prepare for temperature changes, high altitudes, and all manner of local wildlife.

Mono Lake in the South Tufa area. Photo © sarahjanet/123rf.

Mono Lake’s Tufa Towers

Mono Lake, eerie in its stillness, is the main attraction in the northern part of the Eastern Sierra, just east of Yosemite. Over time, the lake has collected huge stores of calcium carbonate, which solidifies into strange-looking tufa towers–freestanding calcite towers, knobs, and spires. If you’re visiting the Eastern Sierra, you won’t want to miss this natural wonder.

Mount Shasta. Photo © Chrisboswell/Dreamstime.

Classic Northern California Road Trips: Mounts Shasta and Lassen

These northern peaks and parklands are some of the state’s most spectacular and least visited. Mount Shasta is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts year-round. You can hike or climb to the summit in the summer and ski down its slopes in winter. Shasta Lake, by contrast, is best in summer, when boating, fishing, and waterskiing can fully be enjoyed. Because of its high elevation and rocky terrain, Mount Lassen’s roads are closed late fall-spring, making it a mid- to late-summer destination.