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

California is finest identified for sunny climate and delightful seashores, however if you happen to don’t go to the mountains and the deserts within the winter months, you’re doing it incorrect!

The Golden State is a lot greater than only a summer time vacation spot. As a California native and fanatic, I’m right here to let you know that these are a number of the finest issues to see and locations to go to through the winter:

1. Dying Valley

death valley

The most popular desert on this planet is just not 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 beneath a layer of snow. It’s the perfect time to go mountaineering in the Golden Canyon, absorb a surprising sundown at Zabriskie Level, marvel on the colours of Artists Palette, and if you happen to’re fortunate, even see a wildflower bloom within the desert, which may occur from late February onward. You should definitely take a look at the Badwater Basin as effectively, a novel geological function on the lowest level within the US.

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

2. Ski within the Sierras

In case 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 specifically has been extremely good for snow!

In case you’re not an alpine skier, the mountain areas even have snowshoeing and typically skating as effectively. They’re each set in gorgeous areas, with tons to do close by as effectively. 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. Scorching Creek

Since we’re speaking about Mammoth, you’ve bought to take a look at close by Scorching 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 approach to wind down after a protracted day of snowboarding.

4. Yosemite

yosemite winter hikes
Mirror Lake

Yosemite turns right into a winter wonderland when it snows! Most of the regular 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 street to Glacier Level, flip into improbable 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 may learn extra about this and the opposite winter actions in Yosemite right 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 because of the angle of the sundown for a interval of about two weeks on the finish of the month. It could possibly range relying on the quantity of water the autumn produces and the way cloudy it’s, however if you happen to hit it good, it’s a photographer’s dream. It’s develop into extremely standard, with lots of of individuals exhibiting up now to take footage throughout peak days.

6. Alabama Hills

alabama hills instagram spot
Alabama Hills within the winter

This space is known for being a setting for outdated Western films, 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 lined in snow, completely framed by the Mobius Arch.

The winter is simply the suitable time to move to see snow on the mountains and likewise benefit from the in any other case sizzling Alabama Hills. The stargazing out there’s unimaginable, and there’s BLM (Bureau of Land Administration, which means public land) tenting in all places! There are a number of arches to hike to, together with one which’s formed like a coronary heart. You may learn extra about the perfect issues to see within the Alabama Hills right 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 neighborhood of real-life anarchists and outlaws have turned upcycled trash into artwork. Even if you happen to haven’t heard of it, you’ve in all probability heard of Salvation Mountain, pictured above. I ended by in Could a couple of years in the past and it was blazing sizzling, however within the winter months, it could be rather more bearable to remain and discover all day.

Simply be sure you maintain your wits about you, as a result of it’s an eerily fascinating place the place I by no means actually felt totally protected, however not at risk 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 may watch the video and skim extra about my expertise right here.

8. Joshua Tree Nationwide Park

joshua trees
A improbable star spot

Joshua bushes solely develop within the excessive desert of California. These bushes, which are literally agaves, are so named as a result of they seemed to Mormon settlers just like the palms of Joshua reaching as much as the heavens.

Like the remainder of the California desert, Joshua Tree Nationwide Park can get extremely sizzling in the summertime, however it’s excellent within the winter months for tenting out and mountaineering through the day. It’s a preferred bouldering and mountaineering spot as effectively. 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 stunning and distinctive. You may learn extra in regards to the desert street journey loop right here.)

9. Sequoia Nationwide Park

In case you assume seeing the largest bushes on Earth could be wonderful at any time of 12 months, simply think about them with snow! Although Sequoia Nationwide Park is just not the one place in California that has these unimaginable bushes, 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 number of the finest nationwide parks within the US!

10. Pacific Coast Freeway

I might usually not advocate the Pacific Coast Freeway within the winter months, since you’re more likely to get marine fog, and the seashore is normally higher in the summertime. That mentioned, 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 should have it largely to your self, and reservations at campgrounds and accommodations will probably be a lot simpler to come back by. In all probability so much cheaper too!

Simply remember 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 could possibly be lower than perfect, however once more, you’re prone to have rather more solitude on an in any other case megapopular route. You may get the full PCH itinerary from San Diego to San Francisco right 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 likely one of the components of California that I really like probably 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 would possibly know Lake Tahoe from {the summertime} photographs of cobalt-blue water complementing the considerable greenery throughout. Though it’s is extra standard to go to in the summertime months, there’s a lot to do in Lake Tahoe within the winter. Go snowboarding, snowshoeing, or just hire a comfortable cabin for the weekend and benefit from the snowy scenes.

13. Pacific Grove

Often called “Butterfly City,” Pacific Grove receives an enormous migration of monarch butterflies every winter. Between November and February, you’ll be able to see them take off in flight every morning — a surprising sight. For extra info, take a look at the Pacific Grove Museum of Pure Historical past’s Monarch Sanctuary.

14. Año Nuevo State Park

There are tons of wonderful state and nationwide parks in California that make for excellent 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 really spectacular sight to see, and this is likely one of the finest locations in California to take action.

15. Napa Valley

Since summer time 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 to style the perfect wine California has to supply, whereas additionally beating the crowds. Because it’s off-season, you will get away with visiting the perfect spots on the town and not using a reservation, so you’ll be able to have a extra spontaneous journey. Plus, the normally sunny Napa Valley adopts a mysterious foggy environment within the winter that has its personal distinctive attraction.


Although it’s arduous to slim down a state that’s greater than most international locations by way of dimension, inhabitants, and financial system, these are a number of the finest locations to go to in California within the winter.

So if you happen to can’t make it through the hotter months, simply know that there actually isn’t any dangerous time to go to. So long as you’ve a way of journey and love the outside, you’ll be able to’t probably be bored!

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