10 Beautiful Places in California You Didn't Know Existed

© robertharding / Alamy Stock Photo

For the city dweller, the true beauty of California may seem just as distant as a dream. Those who venture into the numerous state parks and wilderness areas, however, will find stunning waterfalls, rare natural phenomena and otherworldly landscapes. Here are 10 beautiful destinations in California beyond the popular resort towns.

Natural Feature
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Glory Hole
© Patrick Mcdonald / Alamy Stock Photo

Lake Berryessa in Napa County is a reservoir created by the Monticello Dam. A rather odd feature is its “glory hole,” which is a spillway that looks like some otherworldly pit leading to an underwater dimension. It’s essentially a big drain, which will only appear this magical when there is excess water in the reservoir.

Glass Beach

Natural Feature
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Glass Beach in Fort Bragg, Ca
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Glass Beach in Fort Bragg is perhaps one of the prettiest things made out of trash. The beaches were once dump sites, and the colorful glass pebbles that were left behind are pieces of bottles and car tail lights that have been smoothed by the waters. Guests are invited to photograph the beaches but are asked to please leave the glass behind.

Bumpass Hell

Natural Feature, Park
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Bumpass Hell, hydrothermic area, Lassen Volcanic National Park, Northern California, USA
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Lassen Volcanic National Park contains several hot springs, one of which is Bumpass Hell. It is named after Kendall Bumpass who, in the 1860s discovered the landmark when he stumbled into a scalding pool and burned his leg. Nowadays, visitors can use a trail to safely explore the area. Though visually pleasing, the same cannot be said for the smell. Due to the levels of sulphur in the pools, the area smells like rotten eggs.

San Miguel Island

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Hiker on Cuyler Harbor Beach on San Miguel Island, Channel Islands National Park, California, USA
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San Miguel Island was closed off to the public in 2014, but reopened in May of 2016. It is the westernmost island of the eight Channel Islands, and is owned by the U.S. Navy, but managed by the National Park Service. As it used to be an active bombing range in WWII and through the 1970s, the Navy was concerned that there might be unexploded ordnance on the island and issued the closure to ensure that it was safe. It is a remote and gorgeous island, far less popular than its sibling, Catalina. It boasts a huge sea lion and seal rookery, as well as a small campground accessible to only 30 people at a time.

Cabrillo National Monument

Natural Feature
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Scenic view at Cabrillo National Monument park, San Diego, California
© Julia Hiebaum / Alamy Stock Photo
Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego is named for Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo. Beautiful tide pools can be seen at low tide, while a hidden sea cave has been closed to the public, as the NPS has cited its “extremely dangerous conditions” and a need to comply with the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

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