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Explore the Great Outdoors

The great outdoors beckons and we’re ready to commune with nature. Los Angeles is surrounded by some of the most spectacular scenery west of the Rockies, and many state, city and regional parks are less than two hours away from DTLA. From the rugged beauty of Vasquez Rocks, to majestic waterfalls, and awe-inspiring ocean views, our parks offer everything from hiking and running to mountain biking, bird watching and equestrian use. If you’re looking for a peaceful afternoon, Descanso Gardens and LA Arboretum are open by reservation, so you can plan your visit and take your time enjoying the flora and wildlife. Watch for signs with visitor guidelines at all locations.

Malibu Creek State Park 1925 Las Virgenes Road, Calabasas, CA 91302

Malibu Creek State Park, just 25 miles from downtown Los Angeles, features hiking, running, mountain biking, bird watching, and equestrian use. Fourteen-mile Malibu Creek is the principal watercourse of the Santa Monica Mountains that ends at Malibu Lagoon. There are 15 miles of streamside trail through oak and sycamore woodlands on chaparral-covered slopes. Following the trail along Malibu Creek, the visitor will be treated to spectacular vistas, including volcanic rock gorges, scenic pools, and breathtaking views of the Las Virgenes Valley and Malibu Canyon.

Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park 10700 Escondido Canyon Rd, Agua Dulce, CA 91350

Vasquez Rocks, located in the high desert near Agua Dulce Springs, features 932 acres of spectacular rock formations, and a seasonal stream. The rocks’ history began in prehistoric times when the sandstone rocks were uplifted at a picturesque angle, showing their jagged red features. In 1874 Tiburcio Vasquez, one of California’s most notorious bandits, used these rocks to elude capture by law enforcement. His name has since been associated with this geologic feature. The park is a popular hiking, picnicking, and equestrian area, and has been seen in many hit movies, commercials and television shows, including Star Trek and Star Trek: Picard.

Eaton Canyon Natural Area 1750 N. Altadena Dr. Pasadena, CA 91107

Eaton Canyon Natural Area is a natural preserve located at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains. This scenic 198 acre natural area was originally called “El Precipicio” by Spanish settlers because of its steep gorges, and was later named after Judge Benjamin Eaton, a progressive pioneer who was the first to use irrigation from Eaton creek to grow grapes on the slopes. Visitors can explore Eaton Canyon’s expansive hiking and equestrian trails, along with a staging area, seasonal streams, and abundant native plants.

LA Aboretum 301 N Baldwin Ave Arcadia, CA 91007

The Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden is a unique 127-acre botanical garden and historical site located in what was the heart of the historic Rancho Santa Anita in the city of Arcadia. Did you know The Arboretum is also an official wildlife sanctuary. In addition to the famous peafowl, visitors will see species of resident and migratory birds, aquatic creatures, and numerous species of small reptiles and mammals. Tickets are now limited to preserve safe distancing and all indoor spaces are closed. Members are required to reserve free tickets. Non-members must buy advance tickets online to ensure entry.

Descanso Gardens 1418 Descanso Drive, La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011

Descanso Gardens is an urban retreat of year-round natural beauty, internationally renowned botanical collections, and spectacular seasonal horticultural displays, located just 20 minutes from downtown Los Angeles, The principal collections include California native plants and oak woodlands; one of the largest collections of camellias in the Western Hemisphere; a rose garden with specimens from all corners of the globe; and significant presentations of lilacs, maple trees, cherry trees and iris. Members can enter without an advance ticket, but visitors who are not members and guests not covered under a membership will need advance tickets with timed entry.

Escondido Canyon Park 27200 Winding Way, Malibu, CA 90265

Accessed from Pacific Coast Highway, about a mile south of Kanan Road in Malibu, the Edward Albert Trail through Escondido Canyon Natural Area leads hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians 4.2 miles through oak woodland, riparian woodland, and Coastal sage scrub to the spectacular, multi-tiered 150-foot Escondido Falls—the highest in the Santa Monica Mountains. The waterfall is dependent on rainfall, and is minimal or non-existent during dry weather.

Will Rogers State Historic Park 1501 Will Rogers State Park Rd, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272

Will Rogers was one of the most popular and highest paid actors in Hollywood and “America’s most beloved citizen.” During the 1920s, he bought land in Santa Monica, where he developed a ranch. Eventually, Will Rogers owned about 359 acres overlooking the Pacific Ocean, in what is now known as the Pacific Palisades. After Rogers passed away, his widow Betty donated the ranch to California State Parks in 1944 and it became a state historic park. Hikers can enjoy a moderate 2-mile loop to and from Inspiration Point. The Rivas Canyon Trail also provides a moderate 2.1 mile hike to Temescal Gateway Park.  Adventurous hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians can tackle the Backbone Trail National Trail into the Santa Monica Mountains, which can take you 70 miles all the way to Point Mugu.

Point Mugu State Park 9000 West Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA 90265

Point Mugu State Park, located in the Santa Monica Mountains, features five miles of ocean shoreline with rocky bluffs, sandy beaches, sand dunes, rugged hills and uplands, two major river canyons and wide grassy valleys dotted with sycamores, oaks and a few native walnuts. There are more than 70 miles of hiking trails. The beach also features swimming, body surfing and surf fishing. The park includes the jagged pinnacles of the Boney Mountains State Wilderness Area.

Topanga State Park 20828 Entrada Rd, Topanga, CA 90290

Located in the cliffs and canyons of the Santa Monica Mountains, Topanga State Park features 36 miles of trails through open grassland, live oaks and spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. The park is located entirely within the Los Angeles city limits and is considered the world’s largest wildland within the boundaries of a major city. The park is bound on the south by Pacific Palisades and Brentwood, on the west by Topanga Canyon, and on the east by Rustic Canyon. Numerous geologic formations can be found in the park, including earthquake faults, marine fossils, volcanic intrusions, and a wide variety of sedimentary formations.

Photo credits:

Photo #1: Visit Santa Clarita

Photo #2: California Dept. of Parks & Recreation

Photo #3: Visit Santa Clarita

Photo #4: Eaton Canyon Nature Associates

Photo #5: Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanical Garden

Photo #6: Descanso Gardens

Photo #7: Santa Monica Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority

Photo #8: Will Rogers State Historic Park

Photo #9: California Dept. of Parks & Recreation

Photo #10: California Dept. of Parks & Recreation