Sierra Nevada State Parks

State Parks in the Sierra Nevada

California State Parks in the Sierra Nevada include parks, giant sequoia trees, plant and wildlife reserves, recreation areas, wilderness areas, reservoirs, historic parks & homes and ghost towns. Below you'll find a list of popular CA State Parks and ones we personally recommend from Sugar Pine Point along the shores of Lake Tahoe to the Giant Sequoias of Calaveras Big Trees. Camping in California is a popular activity with most Sierra Nevada campgrounds offering conveniences like RV parks, flush toilets, running water and firewood.

An entry fee is required at almost all California State Parks. It may be beneficial to purchase a yearly California State Park Pass if planning to make multiple visits to CA State Parks. Several discounts are available including passes for Day Use, Veterans, Handicapped, Surfing, Seniors and more.

Sierra Nevada

Donner Memorial State Park is located off Interstate 80 from Donner Pass Road. Donner Memorial includes a large recreational lake, campground, museum, nature trails, cross-country ski park and more. The Emigrant Trail Museum and Pioneer Monument commemorate the struggle of early pioneers heading west with an emphasis on the Donner Party. Donner Lake offers a launch ramp and boat rentals from ski boats to canoes.

Donner Memorial State Park
12593 Donner Pass Road
Truckee, CA 96161
(530) 582-7892

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Sugar Pine Point State Park is located on the west shore of Lake Tahoe, ten miles south of Tahoe City on Highway 89. Sugar Pine Point offers a pristine forest at the edge of the lake. A featured attraction is a mansion built in 1903 known as Pine Lodge. Activities at Sugar Pine Point include camping, fishing, swimming, hiking and cross-country skiing on groomed trails.

Sugar Pine Point State Park
7360 West Lake Boulevard
Tahoma , California 96142
(530) 525-7982

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D.L.Bliss State Park is located 17 miles south of Tahoe City off Highway 89, a couple of miles north of Emerald Bay. D.L.Bliss hugs the shore of Lake Tahoe and features hiking trails and vistas of the lake. From some of these trails you can see a hundred feet or more into the depths of crystal clear Lake Tahoe. A favorite hiking trail is Balancing Rock Nature Trail for its precariously perched, 130 ton granite boulder. Activities at D.L.Bliss include camping, fishing, hiking and swimming.

NOTE: Visit our Lake Tahoe page for more to see and do in Tahoe.

D. L. Bliss State Park
South Lake Tahoe, California 96150
(530) 525-7277

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Emerald Bay State Park

Emerald Bay State Park is located 22 miles south of Tahoe City off Highway 89. This cove was once a separate lake from Tahoe and contains some of the clearest water on the lake. The only island on Lake Tahoe is in Emerald Bay and is just large enough to support a tiny stone tea house. A featured attraction is the Vikingsholm, which is a small stone castle-like home of Scandinavian architecture and is now manage by the park. A campground is situated on the edge of the lake. Activities at Emerald Bay include swimming boating, camping and hiking.

Emerald Bay State Park
South Lake Tahoe, California 96150
(530) 541-3030

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Sand Harbor State Park is located 3 miles south of Incline Village off Highway 28. This Nevada State Park is one of the most popular beaches on Lake Tahoe offering swimming, picnicking and unparalleled beauty. Enjoy sunbathing or swimming from the sandy beach or photographing the boulder-laden turquoise shoreline that the lake is known for worldwide. Sand Harbor is undoubtedly the most photographed location on all of Tahoe's 71-miles of shoreline. The Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival is held at Sand Harbor every year from July through August. Bring your picnic basket, wine and revelry for a lakeside evening with Shakespeare.

Sand Harbor State Park
Incline Village, Nevada 89452
(775) 831-0494

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Sierra Nevada

Grover Hot Springs State Park is located south of Tahoe on Highway 89, just outside the town of Markleeville. No matter which direction you come from, it is one of the most beautiful and remote drives in the entire state. Grover features several heated mineral pools that are enjoyed by visitors as well as locals from the area. A large campground is within walking distance of the pools. The nearby town of Markleeville offers a restaurant, bar, groceries and fuel.

Grover Hot Springs State Park
Markleeville, CA 96120
(530) 694-2248

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Bodie Ghost Town

Bodie State Historic Park is located off Highway 395 between Lee Vining and Bridgeport. Bodie is definitely California's best ghost town. Tucked in the High Sierra foothills, this town of 20 grew to a thriving city when gold was discovered in 1877. Within a few short years the gold ran out and the town became Bodie Ghost Town. The goldmine employed thousands and stories of rampant gun fights followed. Buildings from the original town and mine still exist in a state of decay. Original furniture and stocked shelves were left as they were found. A cemetery remains up on a hill outside of town and tells a tale of the harsh winters miners experienced. If your travels take you anywhere near Bodie Ghost Town, this is a must see.

TIP: It's about a 12 mile drive from the 395 on Highway 270 to Bodie Ghost Town. The last 3 miles of which are dirt and gravel. Although the park is open year round, winter and early spring are not recommended due to snow and mud hazards.

Bodie State Historic Park
Bridgeport, California 93517
(760) 647-6445

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Mono Lake tufas

Mono Lake State Park is located north of Lee Vining off Highway 395. Mono Lake features a large but shallow lake that is one of the oldest lakes in North America. Mono tufas are mineral deposits that protrude above the lake's surface. The water at Mono Lake is 2.5 times saltier than the ocean, which results in additional buoyancy when swimming. You don't want to get it in your eyes or cuts. Alkali flies sometimes cover the shoreline of the lake but stay near the surface and are not really a nuisance. Activities at Mono Lake include hiking, canoeing, kayaking, swimming and cross-country skiing.

Mono Lake State Park
Lee Vining, California 93541
(760) 647-6331

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Calaveras Giant Redwood

Calaveras Big Trees State Park is located east of Stockton and four miles northeast of Arnold on Highway 4. Calaveras Big Trees is a Giant Sequoia grove with a self-guided trail and campgrounds. Activities at Calaveras Big Trees include hiking and camping. Camping is located adjacent to the redwood forest but other, more secluded campsites, are farther into the park. The self-guided Sequoia trees tour is the most interactive we've seen in a Giant Sequoia park with multiple walk-through trees and a bench that tilts back perfectly to relax and view the entire span of a giant redwood. The hard-packed trails and boardwalks through the forest are wheelchair accessible when dry.

UPDATE: Unfortunately, The Tunnel Tree at Calaveras Big Trees, also known as the "Pioneer Cabin Tree", fell on January 8th, 2017.

Calaveras Big Trees State Park
Arnold, California 95223
(209) 795-2334

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State Parks by Region

California by Region

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