National Parks to visit in Southern California

The historical light house at the Cabrillo National Park. (Nelvin C. Cepeda/Union-Tribune)
(Nelvin C. Cepeda / San Diego Union-Tribune)

Some say there shouldn’t be a price on beauty, and between April 15-16 and 22-23 there won’t be.

In honor of turning 100 years old and in celebration of National Park Week, the National Park Service is offering free admission to all National Parks. And while there are more than 400 parks throughout the country (118 of which have entrance fees), there a few close to home. So, grab your hiking shoes and sense of adventure because some of America’s beauty is only a short car ride away.

Cabrillo National Monument

Named after explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, this national park is known for being the first West Coast location that any European stepped foot on. Today, the park is popular for its two-mile hiking trail, lively tide pools and Old Point Loma Lighthouse. During the winter months, the park is also a great location to spot Grey Whales. With warm weekends in the forecast and free admission, it’s a great excuse to get outdoors and visit this natural wonder.

1800 Cabrillo Memorial Drive, Point Loma, 619.557.5450,

Joshua Tree National Park

With more than 800,000 acres of beauty, there are endless possibilities for relaxation and exploration. Whether visitors are looking to take in the park’s beauty by stargazing or birding, or would like to get their hands dirty with rock climbing or backpacking, there are options for all types of adventurers.

74485 National Park Drive, Twentynine Palms, 760.367.5500,

Channel Islands National Park

This secluded getaway offers an escape from congested freeways and bustling city life. Throughout its five islands, visitors are offered clear water, sea caves and rich marine life to explore by snorkeling, diving and kayaking. On land, there are several areas to camp overnight, fish, hike or picnic. However, guests should be warned that there are no food stores or rental shops on the islands, so planning ahead is key for a visit.

1901 Spinnaker Drive, Ventura, 805.658.5730,

Mojave National Preserve

A desert playground lies within the 1.6 million acre park. For those who enjoy the rugged terrain, Mojave offers a collection of backpacking trails, horseback riding and 4-wheel driving routes to take in the picturesque views of the park. Only a few hours away, your view can transform from sandy beaches to a desert oasis.

2701 Barstow Road, Barstow, 760.252.6100,

Editor’s note: Free entrance during select days of National Parks Week does not cover camping, concessions or tours at the National Parks.