California, the Most BEAUTIFUL State in the Union

Since I just pitted California for its stupid politics, I decided that I need to balance this with another post praising the state’s wonderful scenic beauty. Let’s focus on the good, here.

One of the most spectacular places in CA is of course Mt. Shasta. The serenity, the stupendous grandeur, the mysterious volcanic threat lurking somewhere beneath it all…I feel that mountain is indeed sacred, somehow.

So, Dopers, favorite scenic places in California: list and describe.

Share the love.

It’s not all bad there. :wink:

The first time driving over the Golden Gate Bridge. I stopped at the north end, there is place to park and look-out there. Lots of gapping jaws stopping there to look back at that monster.

And now they have a beautiful governor, too!

I don’t like California. Born and raised here, and I’m sick of it. But…

The Antelope Valley and the Mojave Desert. Think of all of the history that has taken place at Edwards Air Force Base! Think of the quietude of the wasteland! Now, I like things cool and damp. But there’s something about walking out on event he hottest day and just listening to the wind. It gives you time to think. As Peter O’Toole said in Lawrence of Arabia, “It’s clean.” I like to see the insects and other animals surviving in that environment. And the colours! Tan sand, red rocks, grey rocks, green plants, yellow or red or blue flowers… the variations seem to be endless, if only you look close enough.

The Redwoods. I love those majestic trees and the fog they live in.

Mt. Shasta. Very impressive. I like seeing it from the left seat of a Cessna, but it’s great from any angle.

This weekend, I rode (horseback) into the Emigrant Wilderness. It’s a designated wilderness area, which means no motorized vehicles, or even bicycles, north of and adjacent to Yosemite. Picture Yosemite without the crowds. Once we were five miles or so in, we only ran into two groups of hikers.

We rode through two forest fires, up a granite stair-stepped canyon, around an alpine meadow, in little forested areas in saddles at the top of ridges. It was absolutely incredible.

And the weekend before, we were roping in Carmel Valley. Nice little place just inland from Carmel, with what appears to be some actual ranches around, not just bazillion dollar homes.

What always strikes us about this state is that we can get to almost any terrain in about two hours. We live in the Central Valley. I actually commute through a wetlands wildlife preserve. We can go to the ocean, the foothills, the High Sierras, the desert.

I have lived in San Luis Obispo, where I spent a lot of time at Montana de Oro State Beach, with its sheer bluffs. I lived in Redding, surrounded by mountains on three sides. From where I live now, I can see the Coast Range and the Sierras, but only on a clear day. :frowning:

Aw, Johnny posted my namesake first.

My beautiful Mojave is magnificent. Wild canyons, still active volcanoes, mountains full of caverns, dunes, washes where the rare water runs and you can dig out bits of opal, agate and jasper.

During the late summer, in the early evening when there are thunderheads around you, that’s the time to go to my homeland. If you’re lucky you’ll feel the temperature drop precipitously, and the cool breeze will bring the sharp fresh smell of creosote and desert sage with it. That’s when the rains come, with the lighting striking the nearby hills. All this is indelibly marked on me. The desert never really leaves me.

In my new home in the SF Bay Area, the one thing that takes my breath away is cresting a hill and getting a glimpse of the dark blue bay behind it full of boats and ships. It never fails to make me happy.

Pacific Coast Highway. 'nuff said.

The Lake Tahoe basin and Desolation Wilderness Area.

The rocky northern coastline.

Another vote for the Mojave desert.

Mono Lake.

[ul][li] Point Reyes[/li]
[li] Avenue of the Giants[/li]
[li] Mount Lassen[/li]
[li] Big Sur[/li]
[li] Monterey Bay[/li]
[li] Joshua Tree National Monument[/li]
[li] Donner Lake[/li]
[li] The Buttes[/li]
[li] Mendocino[/li]
[li] Big Basin Park[/li]
[li] Kings Canyon[/li]
[li] Calaveras Big Trees[/li]
[li] Sequoia National Park[/ul][/li]The list is endless.

AS long as we’re mentioning gorgeous wilderness areas in CA, this most beautiful of states, might I put in a plug for the Mokelumne Wilderness Area? It doesn’t get the attention Desolation does, and that is all to the good. It’s south of the incomparable Lake Tahoe, and requires some fairly stout hiking to get inside. BUT oh man is it worth visiting. I hiked and scrambled to the summit of Round Top this summer; it was one of my best hiking experiences ever.

And about Lake Tahoe: it’s amazing that such a densely developed lake can remain so incredibly beautiful, and still convey a sense of the pristine despite everything.


You might not think someone from Mississippi would know much about California, but I’ve seen Mt. Shasta, Yosemite, the Golden Gate, Sequoia National Park, Big Sur and many other beautiful places there. The best though was a sunset over the ocean just north of Los Angeles.

The northern California coastline. I camped there once and stayed 2 extra days just because I loved the scene.

I’ll also throw in Death Valley. I spent the night there and the sky at night was breathtaking.

I just moved from Monterey Bay (Lighthouse Ave in Pacific Grove) to San Angelo TX.

I’d have to say that Big Sur wins easily.

Especially at sunset.

Close behind is the Mohave desert.

I’ll cast my vote for Sequoia National Park. It’s the most scenic place in California that I’ve been to…and that includes Yosemite, which I’ve come to regard as overrated.

cmkeller: :frowning: I am so shocked!!! How can you say that about (sputter sputter) Yosemite!?!?! Blasphemy!

I’ve been to Sequoia and Yosemite more times than I can count (well, I’ve lost count) and they are both beautiful–just in different ways. Yosemite is certainly not “overrated,” but it does get too many visitors. (Which is why I like to go on weekdays or offseason.)

I also love the ride up Highway One, Parts of Highway 101 (Ave. of the Giants), San Francisco, up north in Eureka and Arcata–I love it all. I also love the desert (Joshua trees!) but I tend to gravitate more towards the big trees and big rocks.

Bodega Bay
Sea Ranch

All north on Highway I from San Francisco. Magnificent.

My own list in California would include:

Big Sur

The Redwoods

The Sequoias (especially the General Sherman Tree, probably the only living thing I’ve seen that would truly qualify as “awesome”)

Yosemite is beautiful, but it’s become so crowded with people it seems like Disneyland with trees.

The drive along highway 156 ( I think that’s the right number) between the central valley and Highway 101. The rolling hills and California live oaks there are almost as soul-feeding a view as the great redwoods.

Mount Shasta

The Antelope Valley when the popppies are in bloom

The Nappa Valley

California certainly is beautiful, but I wouldn’t say it is the MOST beautiful state. I doubt that there is a most beautiful state, given the different tastes already shown in this thread for California landmarks alone.

Almost any part of Utah, especially the massive landforms of Zion National Park, provides incomparable vistas.

Oregon has spectacular scenes from the great Columbia River Gorge to Crater Lake.

I once drove from California to Washington D.C and back, taking Interstate 40 going and I-80 on the return. Friends told me I would be bored, but I was inspired by great beauty all the way. (I have to admit, though, that Rock Springs, Wyoming was pretty drab.)

Nope, no MOST beautiful state.

My husband and I will be travelling to the Mendocino Coast in just a few weeks! This will be my first time in Northern California, and I am really looking forward to seeing the redwoods. I haven’t seen an ocean in two and a half years.

We will fly into San Francisco and then drive up the coast and spend several nights in Gualala/Anchor Bay, and then a few nights in Mendocino. We will check out Muir Woods along the way. Any advice on other good points along Route 1? Just how twisty and winding is that road? Will I get carsick?! I’m used to mountain roads, so I guess I will be ok.

A few years back, we drove out to LA from NY during an El Niño spring and the Mojave and Sonoran deserts were breathtaking. Such colors, and there is nothing better than the smell of rain in the desert.

California really has it all. I can see why so many people regard it as the Promised Land.

The point is that whatever other states have, (and they have some knockout places), California has everything.

My wife and I are spending this next week in Caspar and Fortuna, (and in between. The Lost Coast is the place).

Foolonthehill–you live in Yosemite? Really? In the Park, or nearby, like in Fish Camp or Oakhurst?

I cannot tell you how I envy you! How are the winters for you?