California’s Most Popular Natural Landmarks, Ranked

California has nine national parks – more than any other state. With more than 270 state parks, recreation areas, and monuments, there are plenty of places to visit in the Golden State.

But a new survey by a luxury shipping company found that America’s most popular landmark isn’t in California.

The survey of more than 3,100 people was conducted by Aqua Expeditions. It found that the No. 1 American landmark people want to visit is in the South: Great Smoky Mountains National Park on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee.

The Great Smokys is America’s most visited national park, attracting more than 14 million visitors last year.

While it didn’t make the cut, a handful of California’s natural wonders made the list.

These are the most popular natural attractions and parks in California.

Redwood National and State Parks

(Photo: Nik Shuliahin Unsplash)
(Photo: Nik Shuliahin Unsplash)

Home to California’s iconic redwoods, it was California’s most popular landmark. It came in at number 5 on the list. The world’s tallest trees can be found along the coast of Northern California.

According to the National Park Service, California Redwood parks “protect vast prairies, oak forests, wild rivers and 40 miles of rugged coastline.”

Yosemite Valley

Visitors look at Yosemite National Park from Glacier Point on July 21, 2014 in Yosemite National Park, California. (Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

The Sierra Nevada National Park is famous for its waterfalls, giant redwoods and the famous Tunnel View.

Yosemite is the third oldest national park behind Yellowstone and its California neighbor, Sequoia National Park.

Yosemite finished 12th in the poll.

Lake Tahoe

Emerald Bay lies under a blue sky at Lake Tahoe on July 23, 2014 near South Lake Tahoe, California. (Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

It is not a national park, but it is within a national forest and has as many visitors as other monuments on the list.

Lake Tahoe took 43rd place on the list.

The freshwater lake was formed more than 2 million years ago by “crustal faulting, volcanism and glaciation,” according to

Big Sur

Cyclists ride over the Bixby Bridge on their way from Morro Bay to Monterey County during Stage 4 of the Amgen Tour of California on May 18, 2016 in Big Sur, California. (Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

A stretch of the California coast runs along the path of one of the most beautiful roads in the world, Highway 1.

The region has numerous sea cliffs, hiking trails to explore, quiet camping spots, and plenty of places to dip your toes in the Pacific Ocean or the Big Sur River.

Located on the western slope of the Santa Lucia Mountains, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park features waterfalls and several Redwood trees.

Big Sur was No. 65 on the list.

Runyon Canyon

Tourists walk in the Hollywood Hills on May 24, 2018 at Runyon Canyon Park in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images)

The latest California landmark to make the list of America’s 250 Best Landmarks is Runyon Canyon, which is owned by LA.

Located within the city limits of Los Angeles, it is nestled on the eastern side of the Santa Monica Mountains.

The 160-acre park offers endless hiking trails, most of which are dog-friendly, and unparalleled views of downtown Los Angeles from the Inspiration Point trailhead.

Runyon Canyon Park is managed by the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks. You can enter the park from Hollywood or from Mulholland Drive.

Runyon Canyon was ranked 151st in the poll.

Overall, California had the most landmarks in the top 250, followed only by Hawaii and Tennessee.

The top 10 natural landmarks that Americans say they would most like to visit are:

  1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee
  2. Niagara Falls in New York
  3. Missouri’s Elephant Rocks
  4. Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming
  5. Redwood National and State Parks in California
  6. Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii
  7. Hanauma Bay in Hawaii
  8. Pikes Peak State Park in Iowa
  9. The Grand Canyon in Arizona
  10. Waikīkī Beach, Hawaii

For more information on the poll, as well as the international destinations people wanted to visit, click here.


Leave a Comment