5 Guides To Iconic California Destinations For Nature Photography

Planning a photography adventure in California? These five guides to popular destinations provide detailed travel and photo advice.

There’s a reason that California is one of the most popular destinations for nature photographers. It’s home to several iconic national and state parks, and the sheer size of the state spans multiple geographies, climates and ecosystems, with something for every landscape and wildlife enthusiast. 

To help you plan your next California photo adventure, here are travel guides to five unique areas that offer extensive photographic possibilities.

Winding, Wondrous Big Sur

Big Sur Bixby Bridge

The Big Sur coastline is a magnificent 98-mile stretch of central California land and sea, from Carmel in the north to Cambria at the southern end. I prefer to concentrate my photography and workshops on the first 27 miles beginning at the Carmel River in the north and heading south. This is by far the most visually appealing stretch and offers an incredible amount of locations, both iconic and hard-to-find. Continue reading, “Winding, Wondrous Big Sur.”

Point Reyes National Seashore

Point Reyes National Seashore: Kehoe Beach

Jutting 10 miles out into the Pacific Ocean, Point Reyes National Seashore sits just 30 miles north of the bustling activity of San Francisco yet boasts one of the greatest animal diversities of any national park in the country. Over 50 percent of North America’s bird species and over 80 species of mammals have been documented here. That’s a tremendous amount of wildlife assembled in 72,000 acres of land. Continue reading, “Point Reyes National Seashore.”

California’s Eastern Sierra

California's Eastern Sierra - Sunrise Moonset, Mt. Whitney, Alabama Hills.

Skirting California’s Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains, U.S. Route 395 enchants travelers with ever-changing views of California’s granite backbone. More than just beautiful, these massive mountains form a natural barrier against incursion from the Golden State’s major metropolitan areas, keeping the eastern Sierra region cleaner and quieter than its scenery might suggest. Continue reading, “California’s Eastern Sierra.”

Pinnacles National Park

View of volcanic rock formations at Pinnacles National Park

Encompassing about 26,000 acres in the southern portion of the Gabilan Mountains, Pinnacles is a popular national park for hikers, climbers, bird watchers (especially those seeking the endangered California condors), geology buffs and artists. Pinnacles’ natural wonders—which includes the mammoth rock formation, crags, spires, wildlife, flowers, caves and even a tunnel arch—make it an ideal destination for nature photography. Continue reading, “Pinnacles National Park.”

Beautiful Oddities Of Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree silhouette
Desert habitats are ecological peculiarities, but even among them, Joshua Tree is a place unique unto itself, complete with its own characteristics and eccentricities. At its heart is the odd tree that gave the park its name and massive monzogranite boulders formed by ancient geologic processes involving two tectonic plates (the Farrallon and Continental plates) well over 100 million years ago. Continue reading, “Beautiful Oddities Of Joshua Tree.”