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The Greatest Locations to Go to in California within the Winter in 2022


California is finest recognized for sunny climate and delightful seashores, however when you don’t go to the mountains and the deserts within the winter months, you’re doing it fallacious!

The Golden State is a lot greater than only a summer season vacation spot. As a California native and fanatic, I’m right here to inform you that these are among the finest issues to see and locations to go to throughout the winter:

1. Loss of life Valley

death valley

The most well liked desert on this planet isn’t the place to be in the course of July, but it surely’s completely excellent for the winter months, when a lot of the remainder of the US is beneath a layer of snow. It’s the best time to go mountaineering in the Golden Canyon, soak up a shocking sundown at Zabriskie Level, marvel on the colours of Artists Palette, and when you’re fortunate, even see a wildflower bloom within the desert, which might occur from late February onward. You should definitely try the Badwater Basin as effectively, a singular geological characteristic on the lowest level within the US.

The stargazing can also be unimaginable, however bear in mind to bundle up, as a result of the temperature swing within the desert from day to nighttime could be excessive, notably within the winter.

2. Ski within the Sierras

When you’re into snowboarding, you in all probability have heard of Lake Tahoe and Mammoth Mountain. Each are world-class ski resorts with unimaginable powder, relying on the yr. This yr specifically has been extremely good for snow!

When you’re not an alpine skier, the mountain areas even have snowshoeing and generally skating as effectively. They’re each set in gorgeous places, with tons to do close by as effectively. Mammoth is near the subsequent merchandise on this checklist, together with the Alabama Hills, and Tahoe is a big space that spans all the way in which into Nevada, with plentiful snowmobiling and snowshoeing trails.

3. Sizzling Creek

Since we’re speaking about Mammoth, you’ve received to take a look at close by Sizzling Creek! It’s a hot-spring river that runs by means of a mountain valley — it’s particularly nice when the climate is chilly and the river is rimmed with snow. I can’t think about a greater approach to wind down after a protracted day of snowboarding.

4. Yosemite

yosemite winter hikes
Mirror Lake

Yosemite turns right into a winter wonderland when it snows! Most of the ordinary trails, just like the Bridalveil Fall and Decrease Yosemite Fall trails, are nonetheless as simply accessible, primarily as a result of they’re flat; different trails, just like the highway to Glacier Level, flip into improbable Nordic snowboarding or snowshoeing alternatives.

There’s additionally snowshoeing to Dewey Level from the Yosemite Ski and Snowboard Space. There’s a free shuttle from the valley, and a snowshoe and ski rental place on the prime. You may learn extra about this and the opposite winter actions in Yosemite right here.

5. Horsetail Fall

There’s additionally the phenomenon of Yosemite’s Horsetail Fall, or “the firefall” every February. In any other case an under-the-radar waterfall, Horsetail lights up as a result of angle of the sundown for a interval of about two weeks on the finish of the month. It could possibly fluctuate relying on the quantity of water the autumn produces and the way cloudy it’s, however when you hit it good, it’s a photographer’s dream. It’s turn out to be extremely well-liked, with tons of of individuals exhibiting up now to take footage throughout peak days.

6. Alabama Hills

alabama hills instagram spot
Alabama Hills within the winter

This space is known for being a setting for previous Western motion pictures, in addition to many others over time. Since I’m not a giant film buff, I went as a result of I wished to see Mount Whitney coated in snow, completely framed by the Mobius Arch.

The winter is simply the appropriate time to move to see snow on the mountains and likewise benefit from the in any other case scorching Alabama Hills. The stargazing out there’s unimaginable, and there’s BLM (Bureau of Land Administration, which means public land) tenting in every single place! There are a number of arches to hike to, together with one which’s formed like a coronary heart. You may learn extra about the very best issues to see within the Alabama Hills right here.

7. Slab Metropolis

Trippy, intriguing, Candyland-like

This cease in all probability isn’t for everybody, however Slab Metropolis is a spot the place a neighborhood of real-life anarchists and outlaws have turned upcycled trash into artwork. Even when you haven’t heard of it, you’ve in all probability heard of Salvation Mountain, pictured above. I ended by in Might a number of years in the past and it was blazing scorching, however within the winter months, it will be way more bearable to remain and discover all day.

Simply ensure you hold your wits about you, as a result of it’s an eerily fascinating place the place I by no means actually felt solely protected, however not in peril both.

I used to be fortunate sufficient to be invited in to see the house of a neighborhood whereas I used to be there. You may watch the video and browse extra about my expertise right here.

8. Joshua Tree Nationwide Park

joshua trees
A improbable star spot

Joshua bushes solely develop within the excessive desert of California. These bushes, which are literally agaves, are so named as a result of they seemed to Mormon settlers just like the fingers of Joshua reaching as much as the heavens.

Like the remainder of the California desert, Joshua Tree Nationwide Park can get extremely scorching in the summertime, but it surely’s excellent within the winter months for tenting out and mountaineering throughout the day. It’s a preferred bouldering and mountaineering spot as effectively. Keep away from the crowds by steering away from vacation weekends.

(Deserts truly comprise 25% of the state of California, and all of them are stunning and distinctive. You may learn extra concerning the desert highway journey loop right here.)

9. Sequoia Nationwide Park

When you assume seeing the largest bushes on Earth could be wonderful at any time of yr, simply think about them with snow! Although Sequoia Nationwide Park isn’t the one place in California that has these unimaginable bushes, it’s the place you usually tend to see them with snow.

Mix your journey with Yosemite and Kings Canyon and also you’ll get the trifecta of among the finest nationwide parks within the US!

10. Pacific Coast Freeway

I’d usually not suggest the Pacific Coast Freeway within the winter months, since you’re more likely to get marine fog, and the seashore is often higher in the summertime. That stated, having grown up on the southern and central coast, I’m of the opinion that there isn’t a dangerous time to be on the California coast.

The bonus of going within the winter months is that you’ll have it principally to your self, and reservations at campgrounds and motels can be a lot simpler to return by. In all probability lots cheaper too!

Simply needless to say if California goes to have a wet yr, it’ll be principally concentrated to the winter months (it’s uncommon in the summertime). Tenting in a tent may very well be lower than supreme, however once more, you’re more likely to have way more solitude on an in any other case megapopular route. You will get the full PCH itinerary from San Diego to San Francisco right here.

11. The Misplaced Coast

coast redwood
Humbled in Humboldt

Although I hate to play favorites, this spot on the coast about two hours south of the Oregon border is among the elements of California that I like essentially the most — and it will get hardly any tourism! The seashores are rugged and wonderful, full of huge boulders and waves, and there are Coastal Redwoods to stroll by means of for days. I’ve gone within the winter and within the hotter months and find it irresistible in each season. Fog is frequent on this a part of the state, no matter time of yr, although.

12. Lake Tahoe

mt tallac hike
Value it!

Positive, you may know Lake Tahoe from {the summertime} images of cobalt-blue water complementing the ample greenery throughout. Though it’s is extra well-liked to go to in the summertime months, there’s a lot to do in Lake Tahoe within the winter. Go snowboarding, snowshoeing, or just hire a comfortable cabin for the weekend and benefit from the snowy scenes.

13. Pacific Grove

Generally known as “Butterfly City,” Pacific Grove receives an enormous migration of monarch butterflies every winter. Between November and February, you’ll be able to see them take off in flight every morning — a shocking sight. For extra data, try the Pacific Grove Museum of Pure Historical past’s Monarch Sanctuary.

14. Año Nuevo State Park

There are tons of fantastic state and nationwide parks in California that make for excellent wintertime locations, however this one stands out. Northern elephant seals collect on the native seashores of Año Nuevo State Park every winter between December and February. These unimaginable animals are a really spectacular sight to see, and this is among the finest locations in California to take action.

15. Napa Valley

Since summer season and fall are the busiest seasons in Napa Valley, winter yields a extra peaceable vibe that’s nice for a soothing trip. You’ll nonetheless be capable to style the very best wine California has to supply, whereas additionally beating the crowds. Because it’s off-season, you will get away with visiting the very best spots on the town with out a reservation, so you’ll be able to have a extra spontaneous journey. Plus, the often sunny Napa Valley adopts a mysterious foggy ambiance within the winter that has its personal distinctive appeal.


Although it’s laborious to slim down a state that’s greater than most nations by way of measurement, inhabitants, and financial system, these are among the finest locations to go to in California within the winter.

So when you can’t make it throughout the hotter months, simply know that there actually isn’t any dangerous time to go to. So long as you’ve gotten a way of journey and love the outside, you’ll be able to’t probably be bored!

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