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

California is best known for sunny weather and beautiful beaches, but if you don’t visit the mountains and the deserts in the winter months, you’re doing it wrong! The Golden State is so much more than just a summer destination. As a California native and enthusiast, I’m here to tell you that these are some […]



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California is greatest recognized for sunny climate and delightful seashores, however should 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 a few of the greatest issues to see and locations to go to in the course of the winter:

1. Dying Valley

death valley

The most popular desert on this planet isn't the place to be in the midst of July, however it’s completely excellent for the winter months, when a lot of the remainder of the US is underneath a layer of snow. It’s the best time to go mountain climbing in the Golden Canyon, soak up a surprising sundown at Zabriskie Level, marvel on the colours of Artists Palette, and should you’re fortunate, even see a wildflower bloom in the desert, which may occur from late February onward. Be sure you take a look at the Badwater Basin as nicely, a singular geological characteristic on the lowest level within the US.

The stargazing can be unimaginable, however keep in mind to bundle up, as a result of the temperature swing within the desert from day to nighttime may be excessive, significantly within the winter.

2. Ski within the Sierras

Should 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 12 months. This 12 months particularly has been extremely good for snow!

Should you’re not an alpine skier, the mountain areas even have snowshoeing and generally skating as nicely. They're each set in beautiful areas, with tons to do close by as nicely. Mammoth is near the following merchandise on this listing, 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 acquired to take a look at close by Sizzling Creek! It’s a hot-spring river that runs via 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 technique to wind down after an extended 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 incredible 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 high. You'll be able to learn extra about this and the opposite winter activities in Yosemite 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 actually range relying on the quantity of water the autumn produces and the way cloudy it's, however should you hit it good, it’s a photographer’s dream. It’s turn into extremely standard, with a whole lot of individuals displaying up now to take photos throughout peak days.

6. Alabama Hills

alabama hills instagram spot
Alabama Hills within the winter

This space is legendary for being a setting for outdated Western motion pictures, in addition to many others through the years. Since I’m not an enormous film buff, I went as a result of I needed to see Mount Whitney coated in snow, completely framed by the Mobius Arch.

The winter is simply the best time to move to see snow on the mountains and in addition 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'll be able to learn extra about the best things to see in the Alabama Hills 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 group of real-life anarchists and outlaws have turned upcycled trash into artwork. Even should you haven’t heard of it, you’ve in all probability heard of Salvation Mountain, pictured above. I finished by in Might just a few years in the past and it was blazing scorching, however within the winter months, it might be rather more bearable to remain and discover all day.

Simply be sure to preserve your wits about you, as a result of it’s an eerily fascinating place the place I by no means actually felt solely secure, however not in peril both.

I used to be fortunate sufficient to be invited in to see the house of an area whereas I used to be there. You'll be able to watch the video and read more about my experience here.

8. Joshua Tree Nationwide Park

joshua trees
A incredible star spot

Joshua timber solely develop within the excessive desert of California. These timber, which are literally agaves, are so named as a result of they regarded to Mormon settlers just like the arms 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, however it’s excellent within the winter months for tenting out and mountain climbing in the course of the day. It’s a preferred bouldering and mountain climbing spot as nicely. Keep away from the crowds by steering away from vacation weekends.

(Deserts really comprise 25% of the state of California, and all of them are lovely and distinctive. You'll be able to read more about the desert road trip loop here.)

9. Sequoia Nationwide Park

Should you suppose seeing the largest timber on Earth can be wonderful at any time of 12 months, simply think about them with snow! Although Sequoia Nationwide Park isn't the one place in California that has these unimaginable timber, 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 a few of the greatest 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 largely to your self, and reservations at campgrounds and inns shall be a lot simpler to return by. In all probability quite a bit cheaper too!

Simply take into account that if California goes to have a wet 12 months, it’ll be largely concentrated to the winter months (it’s uncommon in the summertime). Tenting in a tent might be lower than very best, however once more, you’re prone to have rather more solitude on an in any other case megapopular route. You will get the full PCH itinerary from San Diego to San Francisco 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 without doubt one of the elements of California that I really like essentially the most — and it will get hardly any tourism! The seashores are rugged and beautiful, full of huge boulders and waves, and there are Coastal Redwoods to stroll via 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 12 months, although.

12. Lake Tahoe

mt tallac hike
Value it!

Positive, you may know Lake Tahoe from {the summertime} photographs of cobalt-blue water complementing the plentiful greenery throughout. Though it’s is extra standard to go to in the summertime months, there's lots to do in Lake Tahoe in the winter. Go snowboarding, snowshoeing, or just lease 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 may see them take off in flight every morning — a surprising sight. For extra info, take a look at the Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History’s Monarch Sanctuary.

14. Año Nuevo State Park

There are tons of wonderful state and national parks in California that make for nice 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 very spectacular sight to see, and this is without doubt one of the greatest 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 of style the perfect wine California has to supply, whereas additionally beating the crowds. Because it’s off-season, you may get away with visiting the perfect spots on the town with no reservation, so you may have a extra spontaneous journey. Plus, the often sunny Napa Valley adopts a mysterious foggy ambiance within the winter that has its personal distinctive allure.


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 a few of the greatest locations to go to in California within the winter.

So should you can’t make it in the course of the hotter months, simply know that there really is not any dangerous time to go to. So long as you have got a way of journey and love the outside, you may’t probably be bored!

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Learn Extra

A California Deserts Road Trip Itinerary

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An Awesome American Southwest Itinerary

Support author of this article and visit his post, originally published HERE

This post is originally published at Be My Travel Muse blog and it's not owned by this site! Respect content authors!