With nine national parks and an additional 24 monuments, trails, seashores, and historic sites, California might just be the best state in the union to celebrate National Park Week. Whether you’re looking to hike, bike, climb, or volunteer, the National Park Service has something to offer everyone from April 17 to 25.
Each year, the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation set aside one week to celebrate America’s treasured places. Each day of the week has a special theme.
- April 17 is one of six free days offered every year in the park system
- April 18 is Volunteers In Parks (VIP) Day, which highlights the important roles of volunteers in the parks
- April 19 is Military Monday, an appreciation of active-duty and veteran members of the military
- April 20 is Transformation Tuesday, exploring how the parks have changed over the years
- April 21 is Wayback Wednesday, featuring the way parks preserve history and culture
- On April 22, the NPS joins the rest of the world in celebrating Earth Day
- April 23 is Friendship Day, acknowledging all the groups and partners that help care for the parks
- April 24 is Junior Ranger Day, a popular program the teaches kids all about our parks
- April 25 is B.A.R.K. Ranger Day, dedicated to man’s best friend, and the role dogs play in our parks
Many parks offer their own activities in addition to the national theme days. Below are our picks of the California National Park Week offerings.
Sequoia And Kings Canyon National Parks
Covering a total of 1,351 square miles, there’s never a bad time of year to visit the vast and spectacular Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. But a visit during National Park Week is even better.
To celebrate Military Monday, Visit Visalia will be giving away a 2-night stay to a service member and their family. For non-military families, they will be giving away a 7-day park pass to three lucky winners. The nearby town of Visalia offers a wide range of accommodations, shopping, and dining for park visitors.
A special Sequoia Tree Talk by Krista Simonic of Sequoia Guides will be held at the Sequoia Legacy Tree in Downtown Visalia on Wednesday, April 21, 2021, at 5 p.m. Visitors are welcome to join this 30-minute free event to learn all about this amazing species.
All B.A.R.K. Rangers are invited to a Pups and People walk at Kaweah Oaks Preserve on Sunday, April 25 at 9 am. Leashed and well-behaved dogs are welcome and will get a free treat.
Channel Islands National Park
As one of the least visited National Parks in the country, Channel Islands is always a pleasure to experience. Combined with the extensive Channel Island National Marine Sanctuary surrounding the park, the number of things to do here is endless. Hiking, kayaking, fishing, snorkeling, and diving are just a few options. Every day during National Park Week, visitors can enjoy a guided hike led by a park ranger or volunteer. They typically last an hour, and the guide will lead visitors on an easy hike while sharing information about the flora and fauna of the islands. Hikes commence shortly after arrival on the island near the boat dock.
The Channel Islands comprises five islands, all of which can only be reached by boat. Transportation to the islands along with additional activities can be booked in advance through Island Packers.
Pinnacles National Park
As one of the newer parks in the country, Pinnacles National Park is not yet on many people’s radar, but this unique landscape is not to be missed. Formed by volcanoes some 23 million years ago, visitors can enter rare talus caves and emerge to towering rock spires. In addition to its unique geology, Pinnacles is also part of the California Condor Recovery Program, and it’s this rare bird that will be featured during National Park Week. On Saturday, April 21, up to three condors will be released into the wild at Pinnacles. The public is invited to attend the event, which begins at 9:30 a.m., to witness the first free flights of these condors.
Point Reyes National Seashore
Each year as many as 25,000 North Pacific gray whales travel 12,000 miles round-trip (the longest migration of any mammal on earth) from the Arctic to the lagoons of Baja California. Along the way, they pass the Point Reyes National Seashore. So there’s no better way to celebrate National Park Week in this location than by whale watching! On April 17, 18, 24, and 25, volunteers will be stationed at the Lighthouse Observation Deck from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to answer questions about these magnificent mammals. Binoculars and scopes will be provided. At 1:30 on those same days, a ranger will give a talk about gray whales and their annual migration.
The Presidio And Golden Gate
The Presidio, a National Park Site located within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, is best known as an army post. For over 218 years, this was a military post for three different countries: Spain, Mexico, and the United States. Today it’s a place for visitors to explore California’s complex history while also enjoying stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. As a way to celebrate all national parks, The Partnership for the Presidio launched the My Park Moment! photo contest this week. The contest is an opportunity for anyone to share a photo of their favorite park experience. This fall, 400 photos will be selected for a free outdoor, family-friendly photo show in the Presidio.
The Golden Gate National Recreation Area is among the most visited parks in the United States. To celebrate Earth Day, the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy is hosting two fun, family-focused events. On Monday, April 22 at 11 a.m., National Park Service Ranger Rebecca Au and Price Sheppy from the Parks Conservancy will guide visitors through the process of building a monarch butterfly kite. On April 23 at noon, Price Sheppy will talk about the California red-legged frog and the work being done to reintroduce and monitor this threatened frog population in the park.
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