From marine life to desert birds, here’s where to go to see wildlife in California this spring:
Springtime is here and the sunny skies are calling out to all of California’s wildlife, from the gracious mule deer in his prime to the tiny hawk who’s just learned how to fly. This exciting state is packed full of wonder and wildlife and we don’t want you to miss a thing!
This guide to all the best marine refuges, nature reserves, and bird watching paradises will give you everything you need to begin planning your adventure. So choose a campervan, pick a perfect weekend, and read on to discover where to go!
The Best Wildlife Reserves
Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks
These two adjacent national parks to the north of Los Angeles are famed for their towering sequoia and giant redwood trees alongside their immense biodiversity. Anyone hoping to spot some impressive mammal will definitely be satisfied along the nature trails of Kings Canyon and Sequoia. Their largest animals are the black bears who roam the woods during the day. If you’re trying to get a peak of these bears, please remember to stick to the official pathways and only look at them from a distance.
Other interesting four-legged creatures in the park include gray foxes, badgers, coyotes, weasels, and wolverines. Mountain lions occasionally prowl around the natural terrain but they prefer to prey on the park’s deer rather than stalking humans. Please do not attempt to approach one. The national parks are also home to an astounding variety of bat species. These spectacular flyers come out after dusk and you might be able to spot the cute western red bat up close or through the park’s night vision live cameras.
Yosemite National Park
This transcendent national park truly needs no introduction, but I will give it one anyway. Yosemite lies to the north of Los Angeles and is renowned for its picturesque Yosemite Valley where you can find the Half Dome and El Capitan mountains, alongside the impressive Yosemite Falls. The park is a welcome sanctuary to the hundreds of mammals, birds, reptiles, and many other fascinating species native to California.
Like Sequoia and Kings Canyon, Yosemite National Park hosts black bears, mountain lions, red and gray foxes, and wolverines. You may also spot a bobcat, porcupine, chipmunk, or a bighorn sheep around the valley. Lizards, garter snakes and Sierra king snakes might be seen slithering along the warm rocky paths. Bird watchers will enjoy the chance to see a Californian condor, red-tailed hawk, or even a spotted owl.
Where to Find Aquatic Animals
Point Lobos State Reserve
To the south of San Fransisco lies the beautiful Point Lobos State Reserve. Although the park is filled with numerous land animals during the day, such as the black-tailed mule deer and alligator lizards, Point Lobo’s main attractions are the illustrious whales that pass along the coast during their migrations. If you visit the reserve in spring you have the chance to spot one of the more common gray whales. Anyone hoping to witness the grand prize of whale watching, the blue whale, should come in the summer months. You might also see humpback whales and orcas passing by the reserve year-round. Other marine life to be found at Point Lobos includes sea lions, harbor and elephant seals, dolphins, and adorable sea otters.
South San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge
This wildlife preservation park in southern San Diego is a great place to walk along the winding paths and witness animals in their natural habitat. As the weather and the water temperature heats up, the wildlife refuge becomes a safe haven for migrating green sea turtles. These large, magnificent animals tend to relax along the protected beaches in their search for warmer waters. The much smaller Pacific pond turtle can also be found around the marshy reserve.
You can also spot mammals like the California ground squirrel or the desert cottontail rabbit in the refuge and bird watchers will love the incredible array of species to be found. All of the different animals you might see here are listed on the free iNaturalist app. Check out last week’s blog to discover which other phone apps can help you gain a better appreciation for the world around you.
The Best Bird Watching Stops
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
As well as being a stunning setting for an invigorating hike, the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is a great destination for any budding bird-watchers. The desert landscape is covered in birds if you know where to look and the rarest one you can find here is the elegant Californian condor. The dark predator has a wingspan of over nine-foot and mainly comes out to hunt at dawn or dusk. Other predators in the park include the greater roadrunner and a variety of hawks. The state park also has plenty of small birds, in fact, it is home to seven different species of energetic hummingbirds. You will probably spot one of the dozens of species of sparrows, warblers, and woodpeckers.
Morro Bay is a secluded state park to the southeast of Los Angeles. It is a haven for a variety of sea and land birds, who thrive in the safety of the park. Sea-faring species like pelicans, cormorants, and waterfowl can be spotted along the bay, alongside herons, ducks, and a type of goose known as brant. Inland, you have the chance to see a peregrine falcon, the fastest animal in the world. If you stay until dusk, you might catch a glimpse of the elusive short-eared owl. On top of all the incredible birds, you can also find other marine life around the bay, including seals, sea otters, and even whales.
Time To Get Going
Now you know where to go, all that’s left is to rent a campervan and start driving! TB Outdoor Rentals can also help you earn extra income by renting out your camping vehicle on our website. Drop by this Friday for our next Campervan Survival Guide on how to have hot showers during a campervan adventure.