Did you know that California is 800 miles long? You would need to drive ALL DAY to get from the redwood forests in the north to the beaches in the south. California is full of amazing local, state and National Parks. It is known as a “biodiversity hotspot” because so many different species live there: 6,500 plant species, 650 bird species, 220 mammal species, 100 kinds of reptiles, 75 amphibian species, 70 kinds of freshwater fish, and 100 marine fish and mammal species! Wow!
One reason California is home to so many species is that it has so many different ecosystems. It’s the only state where you can ski on a mountain and hike along the coast through a forest in the same day. If you really tried, you could probably swim in the ocean on that day, too!
In California, there are rainforests and deserts, hot climates and cold climates. Because California’s landscapes are so diverse, there are also many microclimates—small bits of land like valleys or mountaintops that are colder, hotter, wetter, drier, sunnier, or shadier than the lands around them. Sometimes a species only lives in its little microclimate and nowhere else. That’s why it’s important to preserve all the wild areas we can.
The parks in California aren’t only about nature. This state has so much important history, too. At some California parks, you can explore the culture and history of the indigenous people who lived in deserts and on mountains, seashores and forests. You can explore old railroads, ghost towns, grist mills, or even a Pony Express trail. Where will you go this first day of spring?
If you are able, check out Humboldt Redwoods State Park. They are celebrating their 100th anniversary this year! Be sure to say Happy Birthday to the park rangers and ask for a Junior Park Ranger Badge at the visitor center. If you can’t make it in person, check out California State Park’s PORTS program to experience the park from your home. It’s free too.
See you on the trail!