With nine national parks, the proximity of the mountains to the ocean, and the relative quiet and lack of crowds compared to other times to take in the Golden State's natural beauty, there is a lot to love about California's colder months.
From Sierra summits to seaside scenes, here are just a few of our favorite winter adventures in California.
Joshua Tree National Park(Austin Human)
The best time to visit the desert in California is hands down in the winter due to fewer crowds and more comfortable temperatures.
- Arch Rock Nature Trail, Joshua Tree
- Golden Canyon, Death Valley National Park
- Zabriskie Point, Death Valley
The Channel Islands.(Jared Murray)
Surf and Sun in SoCal
Escape the cold and bask in the land of eternal summer.
- Manhattan Beach, Los Angeles
- Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, San Diego
- Tourmaline Surfing Park, San Diego
- Anacapa Islands, Channel Islands
- Cooper Canyon Falls, San Gabriel Mountains
- Cabrillo National Monument, San Diego
Pear Lake winter hut. (Courtesy of Sequoia Parks Conservancy)
From the Sequoias to the Redwoods, you'll want to stand beneath California's giants.
- Giant Forest, Sequoia National Park
- Lady Bird Johnson Grove, Redwood State and National Parks
- Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, Redwood State and National Parks
- Pear Lake Ski Hut, Sequoia National Park
Natural Bridges, Santa Cruz(Partha Narasimhan)
Central and Northern Coast
The weather may be chillier, but the views are breathtaking.
Mount Shasta in winter.(Philip Calderone)
Craving snow? Head straight for the Sierra and Southern Cascades.
- Ski Mount Shasta's West Face
- Southwest Entrance Winter Recreation Area, Lassen Volcanic National Park
- Ridge Lake Winter Camp, Lassen Volcanic National Park
- Donner Memorial State Park Cross Country Ski, Truckee
- Donner Ridge, Truckee
- Donner Peak, Truckee
- Andesite Peak, Truckee
- Castle Peak, Truckee
- Jake's Peak, west shore of Lake Tahoe
- Hidden Peak, west shore of Lake Tahoe
- Snowshoe or ski to the Peter Grubb Hut, Truckee
- Winter in Yosemite National Park
- Sierra Hotsprings, Sierraville
- Tamarack Lodge, Eastern Sierra
Looking for more California winter adventures? Consider this road trip to see the state covered in a blanket of white.