Stories in California

Get Outside in the Golden State

Get the inside scoop from TNC staff on some of their favorite outdoor activities at our California preserves and project sites. From tide pooling on Santa Cruz Island to kayaking at Independence Lake, get energized for your next adventure!

Independence Lake
Independence Lake Visitors enjoying Independence Lake. © Dan Quinn

"I love sending people to Independence Lake Preserve—just one hour north of Tahoe, but infinitely more secluded. You can enjoy fishing from shore and free use of TNC’s kayaks and small motorboats on this beautiful alpine lake."

- Chris Fichtel, Independence Lake Project Director

 

AMARGOSA RIVER
AMARGOSA RIVER The Amargosa River displays its many colors in the heart of the Mojave Desert. © JoJo Marshall/TNC

"The Amargosa River is right outside Shoshone, CA and is a beautiful desert oasis. TNC is working to protect the river’s wide variety of rare and unique species; it’s actually home to the highest concentration of endemic species in the continental US! Seeing the colors change across the desert landscape as the sun rises and sets can’t be beat. And don’t forget to try a date shake from one of the desert’s date farms!"

- Janine Knapp, Cities Program Associate

 

SANDHILL CRANES In the Cosumnes River Preserve wetlands at sunset. 
SANDHILL CRANES The Cosumnes River Preserve wetlands at sunset.  © Alan W. Eckert, Alan Eckert Photography

"My family loves to go to the Cosumnes River Preserve at dusk and watch the birds and the bats. The preserve is home to more than 250 bird species, including Greater and Lesser Sandhill Cranes, Northern Pintail, Swainson’s Hawks, and Black-necked Stilts. As the sunsets, the birds land in droves to rest for the night and then the bats come out to feed. Bring hot chocolate if it’s a chilly evening!"

- Brian Stranko, Water Program Director

 

Santa Cruz Island tide pools
Santa Cruz Island Scoping the tide pools at Valley Anchorage on Santa Cruz Island. © Frank Hurd

"I love a good trail run on TNC's Santa Cruz Island Preserve, topped off by tide pooling at Valley Anchorage."

- Frank Hurd, Coastal Fisheries Project Director

 

SANTA YSABEL EAST PRESERVE
SANTA YSABEL EAST PRESERVE Laura Benedict enjoying the wildflowers at the preserve. © TNC

"Santa Ysabel East Preserve in San Diego County is my favorite of all the TNC properties in Southern California because of its incredible diversity. I like to take the 7-mile hike from east to west, which passes through oak woodland, conifer forests, chaparral and grassland—and provides a wonderful spot for lunch at a picnic table under a giant oak tree."

- Laura Benedict, Associate Director of Development

 

Jen Carah and Larry Serpa on the bluffs overlooking the Garcia River estuary.
Point Arena-Stornetta Jen Carah and Larry Serpa on the bluffs overlooking the Garcia River estuary. © TNC

"If you’re looking for a great place to go hiking, I recommend Point Arena-Stornetta. It boasts amazing coastal views, a historic lighthouse and excellent coastal birdwatching. TNC protected what became the Stornetta Public Lands in 2004, working with the Bureau of Land Management, Wildlife Conservation Board and State Coastal Conservancy; and President Obama added those lands to the California Coastal National Monument in 2014. TNC is still involved in the area, kicking off a coastal wetland and salmon habitat restoration project in the Garcia River estuary."

- Jen Carah, Senior Water Scientist

 

Hikers in Dye Creek Canyon.
Dye Creek Preserve Hikers in Dye Creek Canyon. © TNC

"At TNC's Dye Creek Preserve, I love to take people down a trail that winds its way through the canyon, so I can describe the origins of the surrounding geologic formations, the plants and animals that have adapted to thrive here, and the culture of Native Americans who once called this place their home."

- Scott Hardage, Dye Creek Preserve Project Coordinator

 

More Great Places to Visit!

Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe My wife and I enjoy backcountry skiing. There are lots of good places to go near Tahoe, but this photo was taken near Grouse Rock on the west shore. © Dick Cameron – Science Team
Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe Tahoe is one of my favorite places to Paddle Board. You can launch from basically anywhere along the shore, but I usually go to Kiva Beach. © Rachel Wadsworth (photo), Alexandra Leumer – Climate Team
Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park My family and I love any opportunity to let our kids go feral! Here we are at Baker Dam Loop. © CJ Hudlow – Marketing Team
Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park I’m always looking for balance in my life, especially during a rock climb. Lloyd’s Rock off Lost Horse Road is one of my favorite climbing areas in Joshua Tree National Park. © Stephanie Dashiell – Energy Team
Los Angeles River
Los Angeles River There’s nothing like kayaking the LA River! I put in at Rattlesnake Park where the season is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. © Jill Sourial – Urban Conservation Team
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park Yosemite’s Glacier Point Road is one of my favorite places to skate, ski and hear only my breath and the rhythmic swish of my skis. © Liwen Mah – Legal Team
Los Angeles River There’s nothing like kayaking the LA River! I put in at Rattlesnake Park where the season is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. © Jill Sourial – Urban Conservation Team
Yosemite National Park Yosemite’s Glacier Point Road is one of my favorite places to skate, ski and hear only my breath and the rhythmic swish of my skis. © Liwen Mah – Legal Team
Mount Whitney
Mount Whitney My favorite outdoor activity is walking! Getting to the top of Mount Whitney was the hardest “walk” my partner and I have ever done but without a doubt the most special. © Liz Post – Marketing Team
North Coast
North Coast It’s always a rush climbing down the cliffs to a dive site. Fort Ross is a National Historic Landmark with a protected cove that makes it perfect for divers and non-divers. © David Hills (photo), Frank Hurd – Oceans Team
Point Reyes National Seashore
Point Reyes National Seashore There’s a great hike at Chimney Rock in Point Reyes National Seashore. The sounds of wheeling gulls and barking elephant seals are the backdrop to amazing views. © Joshua Dieterich – Development Team
Salt Point State Park
Salt Point State Park My daughters, Maya and Sierra, love exploring tidepools at Salt Point State Park. The park is one of our favorite summer camping spots in Northern California. © Julie Zimmerman – Science Team
Oakoasis County Preserve
Oakoasis County Preserve My girls love a good Eclipse. Oakoasis County Preserve, near San Diego, has great views and it's a perfect place to watch the moon pass in front of the sun. © Sylvia Busby – Development Team
BIG SUR
BIG SUR My friends and I love watching the sunset. You can catch amazing views on the Bluffs Trail at Andrew Molera State Park. © Ana Nadal – Development Team
Oakoasis County Preserve My girls love a good Eclipse. Oakoasis County Preserve, near San Diego, has great views and it's a perfect place to watch the moon pass in front of the sun. © Sylvia Busby – Development Team
BIG SUR My friends and I love watching the sunset. You can catch amazing views on the Bluffs Trail at Andrew Molera State Park. © Ana Nadal – Development Team
South Yuba River State Park
South Yuba River State Park The South Yuba River has some beautiful swimming holes to soak and sun with friends. You can even bring a picnic and your pup! © Christa Cassidy (photo), JoJo Marshall – Development Team
Mount Shasta
Mount Shasta My dog and I love hiking around Mount Shasta. The Lake Siskiyou Trail is a 6.7-mile loop that’s perfect for spring, summer, or fall. © George Stroud – Stewardship Team