Central California stories & travel reviews

California's Active Volcanoes

A tour from the Mojave to Mono Lake

There are more than 550 active volcanoes in the world, five of which are in California. It's to be expected from a state sitting on the eastern edge of the Ring of Fire. Between Barstow ...

At the World’s End: Ballarat Ghost Town, Death Valley

Death Valley must be seen to be believed. From the turquoise flats rolling out beneath lofty Dante’s View to the salty vertigo of Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America, it is a place ...

King's River Rafting: Not Your Average Family Vacation

Originating high in the mountains of central California near Sequoia National Park, the Kings River boasts the largest watershed of any river in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Last year I took the family on ...

Three Days in Santa Cruz

A hidden gem along the Californian coast, Santa Cruz offers lush natural parks, eateries with local charm and the traditional boardwalk. It has a relaxed feel like most beach towns, and the locals prize natural ...

A Long Weekend in Sequoia and Yosemite

On a whim, I decided to drive up to explore a spectacular stretch of California natural beauty for a four-day vacation: Sequoia National Park and Yosemite. I hadn’t been to Yosemite for years, and I ...

Finding It in Shoshone, California

For the record: I’m not a fancy, gotta-have-posh type of woman; I’m OK with “rough around the edges.” I’m instinctively drawn to character, whether quaint and endearing or quirky and eclectic. I like spice, color ...

Nothing Like the PCH

Undeniably one of the most picturesque roads you’ll ever traverse, California’s Route 1 north of Santa Barbara is a largely contiguous strip of undeveloped coastline with endless, arresting views. (“Undeveloped,” as in not much there ...

Trona Pinnacles, Mojave Desert, California

The Trona Pinnacles (not to be confused with Pinnacles National Monument near Steinbeck’s Soledad) is one of those natural geological wonders that awes. Set back five miles off SR 178, twenty miles east of Ridgecrest, ...

Hiking the Lower 48's Highest: Mt. Whitney, California

On a lonely stretch of Highway 395 in Central Cali, the Sierras rise from the earth and reach for the heavens. It is here, and more specifically Mt. Whitney, where the modern-day hiker goes for ...

Montaña de Oro State Park, California

"Come forth into the light of things, Let Nature be your teacher." ~ John Muir I don’t know if John Muir ever visited what is now Montaña de Oro State Park, but the bard of ...

Surf Trip to Jalama Beach, CA

We left at 12:00 a.m., Tuesday, October 25, 2011, en route to Jalama Beach County Park from San Diego for a surf trip. Research told us that campers have to arrive at the park's flag ...

Kayaking Elkhorn Slough, California

Elkhorn Slough is one of the last coastal wetlands in California and one of 27 estuaries in the National Estuarine Research Reserve System, set up to study and protect estuaries and coastal watersheds across the ...

Camping in Big Sur, California

Last New Year’s Eve we patiently waited online at www.parks.ca.gov, ready to book a campsite for the summer of 2011. We didn’t want to miss our opportunity to reserve a spot in one of Big ...

Badwater Salt Flats in Death Valley, California

Death Valley is just that – a low-lying valley cradled between three monstrous mountain ranges. And frankly, there isn’t another way to describe it other than to assure you that it is bloody majestic! The ...

Ojai, California: Searching for the Pink Moment in Shangri-La

In 1937 Frank Capra used a long shot of Ojai Valley to represent the mythical paradise of Shangri-La in the classic film Lost Horizon. Ojai (pronounced O-hi) is a small, artsy community nestled serenely near ...

Danish Days in Solvang, California

The rolling green hills in Santa Barbara County wine country provide little clue as to what awaits the visitor approaching the little town of Solvang. Also known as the "Copenhagen of the Pacific," Solvang is ...

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