USA: California

California is hard to beat in terms of scenic diversity and exploration opportunities – here you can explore vibrant megacities just like prsitine natural areas. Learn more about the USA's "Golden State"

Ann-Kathrin
Ann-Kathrin
Travel Guide
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A place full of diversity, facets and contrasts: California is a US state on the west coast of the United States and is hard to beat in terms of scenic diversity and exploration opportunities. Endlessly long sandy beaches, mountain panoramas, sequoia forests, the dry Death Valley and metropolises like Los Angeles or San Francisco – surfing, skiing or snowboarding, horseback riding, hiking, city trips or just relaxing on the beach: everything is possible in California!

As a participant in our project, you will have the opportunity to explore the many national parks, deserts and beaches of the Golden State.

Profile

Name
California

Location
In the far southwest of the USA

Size
approx. 411,000 km²

Capital
Sacramento

Best travel time
End of April until beginning of October

Highlights
National parks such as Yosemite National Park, Death Valley National Park or Redwood National Park, the breathtakingly beautiful Big Sur Coast as well as the megacities San Francisco, Los Angeles or San Diego

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Visiting California

Location, geography and climate

The coast of California is around 1,300 km long and runs from the state of Oregon to the Mexican border. In the east California shares borders with Nevada and Arizona. The largest cities are San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. They are located at the seaside. The capital Sacramento is located in the backcountry. In the northwest you can find the famous Redwood forest. The north is characterized by volcanic mountain chains and forests. The east is well-known for the Sierra Nevada with its impressive waterfalls and steep cliffs made of granite. Sand dunes, dry planes and sandstones form the south of the state.

The 411,000 km² large state of California is located between two tectonic plates. Their clash leads to the famous San-Andreas-fault. Due to the convergent plate edges California is an area of high earthquake occurrence. Besides that it is characterized my mountainous areas and volcanos. Geomorphologically California can be divided into 12 different regions which all cause different kinds of climate conditions.

In California the climate is rather temperate. On the coast temperatures are generally lower than in the central areas. In the desert it can be extremely hot by day and very cold at night. During the summer months it rains less than during winter. Generally, the rainfall rates vary a lot depending on the region. In summer temperatures rise above 20 °C, in winter they are around 10 °C.

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Flora and fauna

California's flora is characterized by a high degree of diversity, not least due to its different climate zones and diverse geography. The most iconic plants of the US state are the redwoods and sequoias, palms, cacti and yucca plants. Colourful wildflowers bloom from spring to autumn. Mountain regions are home to begonias, onions, asters and yarrows, while the desert is home to resistant shrubs such as the creosote bush.

And the fauna is also rich in species: black bears, wolves, ibexes and squirrels are some of the numerous animal species in California. However, there is also still the shy mountain-lion, the big brown bat or the desert iguana that occurs mainly in the south of California. The Pacific just outside California is home to seals, sea lions and whales. If you are interested in California's wildlife, you can find a lot of information on the government's website: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/biogeodata/cwhr/cawildlife.aspx

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Highlights

California's beautiful nature can be enjoyed especially during a visit to a national park. One of the most famous is Yosemite National Park: Breathtaking nature and countless hiking and climbing opportunities await you in this part of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. And also Death Valley National Park enjoys a high degree of popularity not for nothing. An impressive desert landscape with extraordinary landscape forms make it something very special. The valley is considered to be the hottest and driest place in the USA – in summer temperatures can reach 50 °C! The Redwood National Park also shines with superlatives, as the redwood or sequoia trees can grow to over a hundred metres high. If you would like to take a look at the giant trees, a visit to this fascinating area is definitely worthwhile.

Pure nature and breathtaking views can also be found on the Big Sur Coast, located between San Simeon at the southern end and Carmel-by-the-Sea at the northern end. This is undoubtedly the most beautiful, exciting and romantic section of Highway No. 1.

Last but not least, a visit to the metropolises of San Francisco, Los Angeles or San Diego is a must. Flower Power, Hollywood and California Dreaming can be enjoyed here.

Adventures to get you dreaming

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