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Archive for california

California’s Largest Lake

By Linda Tancs

The Salton Sea is an inland saline lake in southeastern California, bordered on the south by the Imperial Valley and on the west by Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. The state’s largest lake (at 34 miles long), both the Salton Sea State Recreation Area and the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge are located on its shores. The lake region boasts the most diverse species of birds anywhere in the West, recording more than 375 species. The wildlife refuge is especially important for migrating and wintering waterfowl (like geese, avocets, black-necked stilts, pintails, teal and grebes)
as well as endangered species including the year-round presence of the Yuma clapper rail.

 

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California’s Newest National Park

By Linda Tancs

Pinnacles National Park, California’s newest national park as of this writing (designated in 2013), is an old soul at heart. Its cliffs, crags and cave formations arise from volcanic eruptions that took place millions of years ago, sending volcanic matter 200 miles away to the park’s current location in the Salinas Valley. The towering, domed rock structures giving the park its name beckon rock climbers. Divided into an east and west side, climbing routes predominate on the west side of the park. Of course, there are plenty of other activities to enjoy, like bird watching for the park’s signature citizen, the California condor. Or maybe you’d like a hike that includes cave exploration. Camping is also available on the east side year round. You can’t drive through both sides of the park. The west side is accessible from Highway 101; the east entrance is off Highway 25.

A Revitalized River in California

By Linda Tancs

The Los Angeles River is a 51-mile waterway, meandering from the San Fernando Valley to the Pacific Ocean in Long Beach. For more than 20 years various groups have been working to transform this California treasure into a continuous 51-mile recreational zone. Two recreation zones, Elysian Valley River Recreation Zone and Sepulveda Basin River Recreation Zone, benefit nature lovers with flourishing wildlife and natural habitats. Any member of the public is welcome to walk, fish, canoe and kayak in the recreation zones free of charge. You do not need a permit unless you are part of an organized group. Private vendors also offer guided trips at each of the locations as well as kayaks for rental.

The Galápagos of North America

By Linda Tancs

Channel Islands National Park is just off the southern California mainland, but in many ways it’s worlds apart. Lightly tread by tourists, the isolation of this chain of five major island groups has resulted in a globally significant biodiverse environment that some refer to as “the Galápagos of North America.” Its paleontological record shows evidence of extinct species such as pygmy mammoth, flightless sea duck, vampire bat and giant deer mouse. Among the living are rare birds, over two dozen species of whales and the largest colonies of seabirds in southern California. Santa Cruz Island, the largest, sports sea caves like Painted Cave, one of the world’s largest and deepest caves. Although the mainland visitor center in Ventura is readily accessible by car or public transportation, the islands are only accessible by park concessionaire boats and planes or private boat. Advance planning is highly recommended.

Fish in the Desert

By Linda Tancs

The Mojave and Colorado Desert regions within California were included in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves by UNESCO in 1984, one of only 46 ecosystems in the United States with this special designation. One of the core areas comprising this reserve is Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. The park’s name comprises a pairing of famed Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza (who crossed this desert in 1774) and the Spanish word for sheep (“borrego”), referring to the region’s native bighorn sheep. The state’s largest park, its attractions include a desert garden just outside the Visitor Center that identifies vegetation typical of the 600,000-acre park. The desert garden also includes a pupfish pond, a unique species of fish that flourishes in extreme and isolated environments.

Celebrating Failure in Los Angeles

By Linda Tancs

Do you remember Colgate’s foray into frozen dinners? Maybe not, considering the venture was an epic flop. You can reminisce about that and other failed initiatives at the Museum of Failure in Los Angeles. The aim of the venue is to teach that failure is a part of life or, to put it more optimistically, success stories are often borne out of failures along the way. Like Thomas Edison so famously put it, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Trees of Mystery

By Linda Tancs

In the coastal town of Klamath, California, you can walk among giants. California redwoods, that is. In the heart of redwood country is the state’s original redwood nature attraction, Trees of Mystery. The family run preserve has over a mile of interpretative trail to take in the size and scope of these forest wonders, which average eight feet to as much as 20 feet in diameter and some as tall as 375 feet. For a bird’s-eye view, take the sky gondola. Have a green thumb? You can buy a seedling and try to grow your own giant.

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