National Parks Near Los Angeles (Map, Distances, Driving Time)

Are you planning an amazing adventure to California and want to also experience the best National Parks near Los Angeles? The city of Los Angeles is one of the biggest cities in the entire world, but many visitors are unaware of all of the surrounding natural landmarks and national parks!

National Parks Near Los Angeles (Map, Distances, Driving Time)

Los Angeles has plenty of different attractions for tourists, but if you want to take full advantage of the area then you can combine your visit with driving trips to multiple National Parks that are found around the city. 

National Parks Near Los Angeles

There are a few great National Parks around Los Angeles that are within easy driving distance, but if you really want to enjoy everything that the area has to offer, there are also plenty of National Recreational Areas, National Preserves, State Parks, and National Conservation Areas. If you add these to your list of places to visit, you will have an almost unlimited amount of beautiful places to visit!

Channel Islands National Park

Distance: 60 miles, Driving time: 2 hours

The closest national park to Los Angeles, five of the eight Channel Islands are protected and make up the Channel Islands National Park. To access this park, you can take the ferry from Ventura for only $30.

There are over 2,000 plant and animal species to see and discover on these islands, which is why they are sometimes referred to as the “Galapagos of North America.” 

You will no doubt see dolphins, sea lions, seals, and whales in the waters around these islands, even on your way there. If you want to explore some pristine islands and see what wildlife this area has to offer, the Channel Islands should be on your list of places to visit. 

Sand to Snow National Monument

Distance: 100 miles, Driving time: 2 hours

Sand to Snow National Monument is one of the three recently-created national monuments in southern California and gets its name because of the wide range of elevations it contains. It has almost every type of habitat type that you can imagine, from sandy deserts to snow-capped mountains. 

This National Monument sits next to Joshua Tree National Park, so it is a great place to visit if you are already visiting and in the area. 

At only a short 2 hour drive from Los Angeles, this National Monument has so many different habitats and terrain that you are sure to find whatever you are looking for here!

Sand to Snow National Monument

Joshua Tree National Park

Distance: 120 miles, Driving time: 2.5 hours

Joshua Tree National Park is found next to Sand to Snow National Monument and features plenty of rocks and boulders scattered around the Joshua trees, from whom the park gets its name.

From camping, hiking, biking, and rock climbing, there are plenty of different activities for just about anyone who visits this park, in addition to viewing the beautiful surroundings. 

Joshua Tree is also considered one of the best places for stargazing in the entire country. At only 2 and a half hours from LA, this is a great park to take a day trip and visit from the city. 

The Barker Dam Area in Joshua Tree

Sequoia National Park

Distance: 200 miles, Driving time: 4 hours

Sequoia National Park is one of the most popular national parks in California and is found right next to Kings Canyon National Park. These parks are found in the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains and are about a 4-hour drive. 

Sequoia offers many natural wonders to see, including General Sherman, which is the largest living tree in the entire world. 

This park is also home to the Giant Forest, which is home to five of the world’s ten largest trees. It is also home to Mount Whitney, the highest mountain found in the continental United States. This is one park you won’t want to miss!

Morro Bay State Marine Recreational Area and State Park

Distance: 200 miles, Driving time: 4 hours

Morro Bay State Marine Recreational Area and State Park is found in Morro Bay a few hours north of Los Angeles. On the northern end of the bay lies a saltwater marsh that supports an enormous bird population. 

Here you can find plenty of activities to do, including kayaking, fishing, hiking, and of course, bird watching. There is also a museum and golf course for those that want even more to do.

In addition to being an excellent ocean and marine park, there are also some great mountains and trails throughout the park. Two of the Nine Sisters, a chain of volcanic peaks, are found here. 

Montana de Oro State Park

Distance: 200 miles, Driving time: 4 hours

Montana de Oro State Park is found 4 hours from Los Angeles and vies visitors amazing views of ocean bluffs and scenic coastline. In fact, this park covers around 8,000 acres and contains over 7 miles of coastline. 

This park has plenty of different hiking and biking trails, including many that climb one of the surrounding hills and summits to give you some breathtaking views. 

Montana de Oro State Park also gives visitors the option of camping with plenty of space in a 50 site campground found in the center of the park. From the ocean views to the hiking trails, this park is well worth the drive from LA!

Montana de Oro State Park

Death Valley National Park

Distance: 210 miles, Driving time: 4 hours

Death Valley National Park holds the record for being the largest national park in the continental United States. Because of this, it covers a large variety of landscapes from sand dunes to alpine mountain peaks. 

If you really want to escape the crowds of the city, this place is the perfect location to do it. While there are a couple of developed areas to visit, the rest of this massive park is pure wilderness to explore. 

Death Valley National Park has plenty of landmarks to see as well, including the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Badwater Basin, Artist’s Drive, and Dante’s View. 

Death Valley National Park

Mojave National Preserve

Distance: 220 miles, Driving time: 4 hours

While it is not technically a national park, Mojave National Preserve is the third-largest location run by the national park service in the United States. With so much land to explore, this preserve has plenty of different terrain and habitats to see. 

From all of the hiking and camping to the endless things to see, very few people ever get to experience all of this preserve just because of how large it actually is. 

If you go to the park, be sure to check out a few popular spots like the Kelso Depot, which is an old railroad station that is now a museum of the area. Mojave cross and the Joshua tree forest are also popular destinations that you won’t want to miss!

Mojave National Preserve

Kings Canyon National Park

Distance: 240 miles, Driving time: 4.5 hours

Kings Canyon National Park lies right next to Sequoia National Park, and most people will visit both parks on the same visit. With some of the same beautiful scenery, Kings Canyon has some amazing hikes as well.

Here you can also hike among giant trees, specifically at places like Cedar Grove and Grant Grove, which is where you will find General Grant, the world’s second-largest living tree. 

The highlight of Kings Canyon National Park is its namesake, Kings Canyon. This is one of the deepest canyons in the country and is more than a mile deep. A scenic highway connects Sequoia and Kings Canyon parks, and is a great place to travel from LA!

Kings Canyon National Park

Pinnacles National Park

Distance: 270 miles, Driving time: 5 hours

Because of parks like Death Valley, Sequoia, and Yosemite in California, parks like Pinnacles National Park are often overlooked. But at a quick 5 hour drive from Los Angeles will lead you to this hidden gem in the wilderness.

Pinnacles National Park is found on the famous San Andreas Fault within a giant volcanic field. The fault split the area in half, creating the rock formations found at the park.

While other national parks are much larger and gain much more attention than this one, this is a great national park that often has much fewer crowds than the others. 

Pinnacles National Park

Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest

Distance: 280 miles, Driving time: 5 hours

As its name implies, the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest is home to some very old trees. In fact, these trees are the oldest in the world, many of which are more than 4,000 years old. 

Found at 11,000 feet above sea level, this forest is a great place to get out and hike to escape the heat and hike on some amazing trails.

Road to Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest

The Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest is usually open from the middle of May to the end of November depending on the weather, and also has plenty of things to do and see at its visitor’s center. The 5-hour drive from Los Angeles is well worth it!

Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest – Oldest Tress in the World

Yosemite National Park

Distance: 280 miles, Driving time: 5 hours

Yosemite might be the most popular national park in California, and it is easy to see why. From the waterfalls to the abundant wildlife, all the way to the rock formations and scenic drives, this national park has it all. 

Although this national park is extremely overcrowded during the summer months, this is one place that you have to visit at least once in your life. 

Some popular landmarks here include El Capitan, Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and Bridalveil Falls. This park has just about every terrain and natural habitats that you can think of, so there is sure to be something for everyone here. 

Yosemite National Park

Conclusion

Los Angeles is one of the largest cities in the world, so many would find it surprising that there are so many natural wonders around it to see and explore. It is hard to find any city in the United States that is in such close proximity to so many national parks and natural landmarks, but Los Angeles is easily one of the best!