Get Outdoors: Between the seasons

Get Outdoors

Pedro is hanging out with executive director Dyana Kelley from Camp California getting the details on the best places to visit between winter and spring.

Bird watching (Sacramento) — Sacramento is a major part of the Pacific Flyway, the major north-south flyway for migratory birds extending from Alaska all the way to Patagonia. Every year, migratory birds travel for some or all of this distance in both spring and fall. Some places to see these migrations yourself are the American River Parkway, Cosumnes River Preserve, Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, and the Effie Yeaw Nature Center. Some places even offer guided Bird Walks for novice bird watchers – Soil Born Farms has a bird walk coming up on February 22nd at American River Ranch.


Presidio of San Francisco — A trip to San Francisco doesn’t have to include shopping, crowds, and skyscrapers. Presidio National Park is a small national park in the northern tip of the city, right next to the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco Bay. It’s just two square miles, but is filled with acres of planted forests, 11 miles of hiking trails, and over 450 historic buildings to explore. Starting in April, they even have Presidio Picnics on Sundays when the park is filled with food vendors, free yoga, and free bike lessons.


Firefall (Yosemite) — During late February, visitors of Yosemite National Park can witness the famous Horsetail Falls over El Capitan Canyon seemingly transform from water to lava, right before their eyes. Although it appears as if an elemental anomaly is taking place, it is really an optical illusion from Mother Nature. When the sunset hits Horsetail Falls during late February, the waterfall reflects bright orange from the sun and Horsetail Falls then takes on the appearance of lava, thus giving Firefall its name. The sky must be clear to the west for Firefall to occur, so day trips might not be the best just in case the sky ends up not cooperating. Yosemite Lakes RV Resort is nearby for overnight camping with easy access to Yosemite.

Elephant Seal Guided Walks (Año Nuevo State Park) — Año Nuevo State Park is one of the largest mainland breeding colonies in the world for the northern elephant seal. A natural preserve has been established to protect the elephant seals, along with other marine animals like otters, California sea lions, and more. Guided hikes to the breeding grounds are available from mid-December to the end of March and are really the best way to see the seals up close before most of the seals are gone by early March. Reservations for the 3-mile guided hike can be made on the Año Nuevo State Park website.

Whale Watching (Santa Cruz) — California is one of the best places in the world for whale watching; each year, around 20,000 gray whales make a 6,000-mile journey from Alaska to Mexico, and then back again. Grey whales are most common, although whale watchers can witness orcas, humpbacks, porpoises, dolphins, and more during this mass migration. Whale watching is very popular around the Bay Area.  Santa Cruz specifically, is a great place to see a large percentage of the migrating whales, along with year-round dolphins, sea otters, and seals in case the whales are out of season or being shy.

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