San Francisco is a renowned cultural, musical, technological, and artistic center. Having a road trip to this amazing city is an excellent vacation idea. There you will find a multitude of iconic sights and entertainment venues to suit all tastes. Plus, easy parking in San Francisco contributes to a great journey.
However, the bustling city streets, endless traffic, and the industrial atmosphere of San Francisco can get boring after a while. What to do if this happens? The answer is simple: take your rental car and go closer to nature.
California’s best National Parks are within driving distance of San Francisco. Each of them will give you unforgettable moments of relaxation in the wild.
Yosemite National Park
Distance: 167 miles / 3 hours 15 minutes drive.
Lodging options: several hotels on the territory. In high season, you will pay around $220 for an overnight stay.
Popular activities: mountaineering, rafting, skiing, kayaking, rock climbing.
This is one of the most beautiful treasures in America. As the largest park, it’s a collection of unique natural resources: lakes, rivers, waterfalls, forests, animals, and birds. The many roads running through the park promise a scenic ride. Some distant sections can be bumpy, so consider Jeep rental San Francisco for easy driving on any road surface. This will take you to the wildest and most beautiful places.
The Half Dome granite rock towers majestically over the Yosemite Valley to a height of 1,450 meters. The valley is home to the main hiking routes that introduce travelers to the rich flora and fauna of the reserve.
You can also visit the Mariposa Grove and the famous waterfalls. Falling from a height of 740 meters, Yosemite Falls is the highest waterfall in North America. Horsetail Fall drops from 650 meters, while Bridalveil – from 190 meters.
If you have limited time, drive your rental car to Glacier Point Observation Deck and enjoy the gorgeous panoramic views of the mountains and surrounding area.
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Distance: 236 miles / 3 hours 40 minutes drive.
Lodging options: campgrounds, several motels and ranches within 10-15 miles drive. The price per night is about $150.
Popular activities: rock climbing, hiking
This park is located in the most sparsely populated part of California. Among other U.S. national parks, it stands out for its atypical views and terrain. The territory of this considerably small reserve is represented by a mountainous volcanic landscape and several valleys, which will be convenient for you to explore with a rental car.
A thousand kilometers of the belt of the Cascade Mountains is notable for its dormant volcanoes. They are active and can wake up at any moment. Lassen Peak volcano last erupted in May 1914. During the eruption, it completely changed the surrounding landscape for many kilometers around, destroying all vegetation. The mountain with a height of more than 3,000 meters, actually burst from the inside and covered everything around with fragments of rock, ash, and lava flows.
Now the volcano is slumbering and recovering, but ready to wake up at the most unexpected moment. In the valley of active volcanoes, the most popular place for camping and lodging is Summit Lake. All hiking trails and ascents originate there.
Distance: 238 miles / 4 hours drive.
Lodging options: one lodge and several simple campsites, prices start from $150 per hotel room.
Popular activities: hiking, sightseeing.
The park was formed in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and has a common border with the Sequoia National Park. General Grant is a famous inhabitant of this area because it’s a sequoia and the second-largest tree on Earth.
The park area consists of two parts: Grant’s Grove and Cider Grove. Between them is the Sequoia National Forest. After visiting Cider Grove, grab your rental car and admire the road along the King River Canyon leading to the picturesque Zumwalt Meadow. There are several hiking trails along the meadow, following which you can see mountains and waterfalls up close.
Sequoia National Park
Distance: 262 miles / 4 hours 20 minutes drive.
Lodging options: 2 hotels near the park. In the park, you’ll find 5 accommodation options and 18 campgrounds. Room rates start at $180/day.
Popular activities: hiking and sightseeing.
Sequoia National Park was founded in 1890 and became the third in the country after Yellowstone and Mackinac. Every year the reserve is visited by millions of travelers from all over the world, who want to look at the main natural wonder of the park – giant trees sequoias. Also, it features the picturesque rocky landscape, which has caves and water bodies in its arsenal.
The park attracts the attention of those who like wildlife and secluded rest. It offers excellent conditions for this, including hiking trails, parking lots, and organized excursions. The park is riddled with scenic roads, allowing you to explore the park with your rental car.
Distance: 458 miles / 7 hours 20 minutes drive.
Lodging options: ranches and hotels in the nearby town of Furnace Creek. The prices start from $140 per night
Popular activities: hiking, photography.
This stunning place is located in the Mojave Desert. The valley justifies its name because here’s the hottest place on Earth with a recorded absolute temperature maximum of 56.7˚C. An endless stream of travelers comes there every year to see with their own eyes the lifeless desert with salt fields.
Hell on earth attracts with its energy and the mysterious phenomenon of crawling stones. Skeptics say that there’s a scientific explanation for everything and they are right, but the fans of the supernatural will definitely like this place. The best time for a visit is the end of autumn and winter when the daytime temperature doesn’t exceed 20 ˚C, and the desert turns into a blooming garden due to rains.