Before planning this trip, I thought the Golden State was mainly about coastal scenery, from beachy towns to wild stretches of sand to seaside metropolises. But the areas of California we actually enjoyed the most were far from the Pacific.
This was just added to the itinerary as a stopover but the lake itself was huge, blue and gorgeous….
…and then there was the amazing snowy alpine scenery on the way to and from it which ranked with some of best views we saw in the Canadian Rockies.
Yosemite National Park
A stunning area with sheer granite walls, gushing waterfalls and hilly passes.
This was also our first taste of wilderness camping as we stayed alone in a beautiful sequoia forest. We enjoyed the beautiful scenery and solitude and of course, eating and drinking around the campfire as we gazed at the amazing stars above us.
Another night we set up camp amongst sand dunes…
Death Valley National Park
Our final stop in California, and a complete contrast to everything that had come before it. As the name suggests, this is not a hospitable place as it boasts the highest temperature, driest climate and lowest altitude in North America.
All of this makes for some incredible otherworldly scenery (as well as a high sunburn potential).
Before it was designated a national park, the area was mined and this has left some eerie ghost towns like Rhyolite:
After being a little disappointed by the coast, our week in this area was outstanding and one of our best in the USA. It was an incredible experience to wake up every morning somewhere new in our campervan with beautiful scenery and having the freedom to go wherever we wanted.
Jack even managed to go five days without a shower with no whingeing. Just the odd solar shower hanging from the trees, which wasnt too bad although I dont know what our neighbours thought:
Next stops: a brief stopover in Las Vegas and then back to the campervan to discover Utah and Arizona