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CALIFORNIA STATE -  UNITED STATES OF AMERICA - TRAVEL & LODGING GUIDE

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San Francisco Bay Bridge at Dusk Seen from Treasure Island, San Francisco, USA
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Financial District, San Francisco, California, USA
Financial District, San Francisco, California, USA
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Sunset on the Big Sur Coastline, California, USA
Sunset on the Big Sur Coastline, California, USA 
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Financial District, San Francisco, California, USA
Financial District, San Francisco, California, USA
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CALIFORNIA TRAVEL GUIDE - UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
  • 3 Ways To See The Stars In Hollywood
  • 5 Things You Donít Know About Anaheim
  • 10 Palm Springs Vacation Ideas that won't break the Bank
  • 12 Theme Parks in Southern California
  • Explore your opportunity of vacation at Napa Valley Wine tours
  • Five of the Best Beaches in San Diego County
  • Frugal Travel Tips In The City of Angels
  • Los Angeles Beaches - Great For Summer Travel
  • Stag's Leap District, Napa Valley, United States of America
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    San Francisco, Golden Gate Bridge, c.1937
    San Francisco, Golden Gate Bridge, c.1937
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  • Relaxing Train Travel to Southern California
  • San Francisco: A Traveller's Guide
  • San Francisco, California Family Vacation
  • San Francisco Tourist Attractions
  • The Hollywood Drive of Fame
  • Things To Do While Visiting Cambria California
  • Visiting California on Your Next Road Trip
  • Whale Watching: a Must-Do in the Scenic City of San Diego
  • Where to Stay on the Beaches of San Diego
  • Why Should One Visit Yosemite?
  • Visiting California on Your Next Road Trip   by Woodall's Editorial Staff

    Much of the American West prides itself on its diversity - from forbidding deserts to breathtaking coastlines, from towering redwood forests to snow-capped mountains. But no state in the West has as much of it as California. The Golden State is a virtual cornucopia of natural wonders. From top to bottom, explore its amazingly beautiful coast to the deep woodlands and deserts found here as well. Stay at hundreds of fantastic California RV Camping Resorts along the way and you'll enjoy the best California has to offer in California Camping.

    Sure, California's fantastic coastlines and towering redwoods of the northern part of the state get all the attention, but in southern California, deserts dominate the landscape. Northeast of Los Angeles, the Mojave Desert encompasses more than 15,000 square miles. Although not every part of the Mojave is ideal for a leisurely picnic lunch (think hot), this "high" desert contains several mountain ranges and is located well above sea level. These two factors are what give the Mojave its unique ecosystem, allowing for a variety of wild inhabitants. Native birds such as the roadrunner and cactus wren often share space with exotic migratory birds like vireos and flycatchers. Coyotes and kit foxes prowl the desert hills, as do more docile creatures like bighorn sheep and wild boars. Like most deserts, the Mojave is susceptible to extreme weather. Bone-chilling during winter nights and sizzling during the hot summer months, the Mojave can also offer up a very enjoyable trip during the spring and fall months.

    Clouds, Mojave Desert, California, USA
    Clouds, Mojave Desert, California, USA
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    In the southern end of the region, right before the Mojave Desert becomes the Sonoran Desert, lies Joshua Tree National Park. This 734,000-acre desert sanctuary is home to some of the country's most unusual and photogenic plants. The Joshua tree is the largest of the yucca plants and has flourished in this region of the country. Some two dozen types of bird regularly make the Joshua tree home and the tree plays an intricate part in the ecology of this desert wildlife. The park itself offers a 40-mile driving tour where one can meander through the gentle desert landscape and find plenty of photo opportunities.

    North, back across the Mojave Desert, lies Death Valley National Park. But don't let the name scare you off - the place isn't out to get you. In fact, Death Valley is the most visited desert park in the nation. Although this 2.3 million-acre park certainly delivers its share of forbidding landscape and uninviting weather, these extreme conditions also create some of the most beautiful and dramatic scenery in the entire American West. The valley's floor, which lies nearly 300 feet below sea level, eventually gives way to dazzling painted hills and 10,000-foot snow-capped peaks. Because of the enormity of the park, driving is essential and many of the park's attraction are spread out. But once a destination is picked and the rig is parked, Death Valley offers hundreds of miles of hiking trails for you to soak up the dramatic scenery. Be sure to visit Telescope Peak in the park's Emigrant Canyon. This peak is the park's highest, reaching more than 11,000 feet and offering some fantastic views.

    Death Valley, California, USA
    Death Valley, California, USA
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    As you head north and out of California's southern desert region, the Sierra Nevadas beckon visitors with its wide variety of activities and natural beauty. This 430-mile stretch of granite cliffs and snowy peaks delight visitors with numerous parks and attractions, including eight national forests, three national parks, and 14 wilderness areas. Any trip to the Sierra's would not be complete without visiting one or more of the region's other national parks: the Sequoia, Kings Canyon, and of course, Yosemite. These national parks are surrounded by California RV Camping Resorts and California Campgrounds.
     
    The 402,000-acre Sequoia National Park is the nation's second oldest park after Yellowstone. The park's most popular attraction (and namesake) is the towering sequoia trees, the tallest growing trees on the planet. Driving through Sequoia National Park is an experience in itself. Follow Mineral King Road as it follows the Kaweah River for 25 miles before reaching the scenic Mineral King portion. General Highway is another twisting drive that will bring you to a stand of trees where four of the five world's tallest can be found. Just north of Sequoia sits Kings Canyon National Park, home of General Grant, the nation's largest tree. Offer up a salute to the lofty hardwood. Another must-see is the Zumwalt Meadow, the six-mile valley floor offers excellent opportunities for day hikes along a peaceful valley surrounded by towering granite cliffs. North of Kings Canyon lies California's most famous national park, Yosemite. Crowds can be, well, annoying, so choose your season well (spring and fall are best). Yosemite's vastness and many isolated areas make this an extremely pleasant visit and a must for the RVer cruising through California.
    Giant Sequoia, Sequoia National Park, California, USA
    Giant Sequoia, Sequoia National Park, California, USA
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    For even more dramatic scenery head east of Yosemite just a few miles until you reach Mono Lake. One of the oldest lakes in America, Mono Lake attracts all types of wildlife to the area, including unusual sea birds who come seeking food sources that inhabit the lake's salty water. But the truly significant aspect of Mono Lake is the calcium-carbonate rock formations found on the lake's shoreline, porous spires rising out of the salty water, standing like eerie sentinels protecting the shoreline. Creepy, but cool. From here, choose one of several routes north, all of which are quite scenic, until you reach the Sierra foothills and the Lake Tahoe region. Set along the California-Nevada border, Lake Tahoe has become an immensely popular vacation area, especially for skiers. Lake Tahoe rewards its visitors with fantastic scenery, relaxing hikes, and plenty of other outdoor activities year-round. It's easy to escape the developed shores of Lake Tahoe. The western side of the lake offers two state parks, Emerald Bay and D.L. Bliss, each with miles of connecting hiking trails and memorable surroundings. The lake is a wonder as well. At over 6,000 feet in elevation, this mountain lake is one of the highest in the world. And its crystal-clear, frigid water beckons the hardiest of souls to take a dip.

    Northern California remains one of America's most popular and beautiful regions. Yes, there's much more here than San Francisco, although that's a wonderful place to start things off. While having only a fraction of the population of southern California, the northern regions offer the most diverse and impressive landscape in the American West.

    The Lava Beds National Monument is 47,000 acres of hardened molten lava, which makes for interesting landscape. To visit the Lava Beds National Monument is truly a unique adventure. The region was once a hotbed (literally!) of underground flowing lava tubes. Today, the flows have subsided, but in their wake, a blessing of nearly 200 caves and grottoes, many of which are open for exploration. Whether you're an experienced spelunker, just starting out, or simply curious about this underground world, Lava Beds National Monument is entertaining, nonetheless.

    For birders, a must-stop is the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge and the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge. While these two adjacent parks, located just north of the Lava Beds, play host to a wide array of permanent and migratory birds, the area is best known for its migratory bald eagle population, generally regarded as the nation's largest. Don't forget the binoculars. Directly west of these wildlife refuges, along the California coast, clustered together are several redwood areas that make for wonderful stops. While Redwood National Park anchors the area, the coastal drive is also lined with several areas featuring northern California's star attraction, the mighty redwood.

    Much of the American West prides itself on its diversity - from forbidding deserts to breathtaking coastlines.

    Continuing along the California coast, about an hour north of San Francisco, lies the Point Reyes National Seashore, a majestic peninsula that juts out into the Pacific Ocean. Scientists believe the delicate sediment found here may one day disconnect itself from the California mainland. Here's a hint: Try not to be there when it does. But until that day, the area is easily accessible and offers fantastic rewards for wildlife enthusiasts. Nearly 500 types of birds call Point Reyes home, or at least during their migratory travels. Dozens of mammals, including several marine types, can easily be found here as well.

    If you do nothing else, make sure you travel Highway 1, one of the most scenic drives in the entire world. Here, the journey is as good as the destination, although Big Sur won't disappoint. This region has inspired generations with its tantalizing views and dazzling sunsets. Because of the numerous RV parks and campgrounds that make up the region, Big Sur easily affords days of leisurely outdoor activities.

    Just in case you want to get out of the RV for a day trip, leave your rig behind in Ventura (wave to the Woodall's office) or Santa Barbara and take a chartered boat to explore the Channel Islands. Sea lions frolic along the islands' beaches. Whales cruise for food just offshore. A myriad of shorebirds roost about the islands' high ground. Santa Cruz Island is the largest and ecologically diverse of all the Channel Islands. Managed by the Nature Conservancy, the island dazzles with its steep, craggy cliffs, hidden caves, sandy beaches, and much more.

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    About the Author - Woodall's Campground Directory is the largest and most detailed North American Campground Directory available, with nearly 15,000 campgrounds included. Woodall's rates and inspects privately owned campgrounds with its trusted 5W-5W rating system. Find out more about Woodall's at Woodalls.com. Woodall's... We're everywhere RVers go.
    Relaxing Train Travel to Southern California   by J. Michael Key

    It's easy to get to and around California when you choose train travel, no matter where you start your journey. You can get here via Amtrak from any part of the country; there are schedules available at every station as well as on their website, which makes it easy to find out exactly how to get where you're going. With the cost of gasoline continually on the rise, taking a train can be a more economical and definitely more relaxing alternative to making long-distance drives.
     
    If you're coming from far away, there are Amtrak sleeper cars which make overnight trips comfortable. Once you've arrived in California, it's easy and inexpensive to travel from city to city by train. Again, you can find information on schedules and routes at a couple of different sources.

    Amtrak serves all the major cities along the California coast as well as providing routes which reach farther inland and to the rest of the nation. If you're headed into Los Angeles, you'll probably transfer to the LA regional rail network MetroLink, which provides service to areas where Amtrak does not. 

    You can find MetroLink schedules at many train stations in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.

    Napa Valley Wine Train, Napa Valley, California
    Napa Valley Wine Train, Napa Valley, California
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    Amtrak can get you into southern California and in greater Los Angeles (including Orange County and areas of Riverside and San Bernadino counties) you'll probably do your train travel on MetroLink. If you happen to be headed to San Diego, you can ride the San Diego Coaster, which is a major part of San Diego county's extensive Metropolitan Transit System. The Coaster connects San Diego proper to the northern suburbs; it's used by many area commuters and is a convenient way to get around the area - it also connects with the Los Angeles MetroLink system.

    One thing which southern California is somewhat infamous for is traffic - and you can avoid the hassle by choosing train travel instead of renting a car while you visit. It's also more convenient than flying; and Amtrak and regional rail systems like the San Diego Coaster and MetroLink let you relax and see some sights you'd miss if you were taking the freeways.

    You can find schedule information for the San Diego Coaster on the web - and if you'll be traveling by rail, you can even print this information for reference while you visit. The schedule features a route map, timetable and everything else you need to know to ride this increasingly popular regional railway. The system has been growing in popularity to the point where cars have been added by trains to accommodate increased ridership.

    There are vending machines at Coaster stations where you can purchase your tickets using cash or a credit card - you can purchase round trip or one way tickets, with a one-way being the best choice if you don't intend on returning on the same day as you depart. You can simply buy a ticket for your return trip when you're ready to leave.

    If you're coming all the way from the East Coast, you may want to fly into southern California and then use train travel to make your way from place to place. If you don't have time to take a train all the way across the country, this may be preferable to making your entire trip via Amtrak.

    When you're planning your next trip to California, consider taking Amtrak - and once you're in the area, remember that MetroLink and the San Diego coaster are a convenient and comfortable way to get around. If you'd rather avoid the traffic and enjoy your trip, train travel is often a faster way to get to the places you want to see on your California vacation.

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