DeaTh valley NaTiONal park
1Don’t let the ominous name scare you. Most of the year, this vast and rugged expanse of east Californian desert is brutally hot. But visit in winter or early spring and you’ll find a surprisingly beautiful and vibrant place.
JOshua Tree NaTiONal park
The park was named after the otherworldly trees that dot the landscape, but the real stars here are the rock formations – jumbled piles of outsized boulders that glitter with crystals in the southern Californian sun.
piNNacles NaTiONal park
The massive spires and sheer canyons are the remains of an ancient volcano that was split in two by the San Andreas Fault and hauled 150 miles from its original location. The spectacular walls attract climbers, as well as bats, falcons and one of the rarest birds in the world, the California condor.