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 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 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