11-08-22 | Feature

National Parks Northern California

A unique and diverse geography that includes five national parks
by Staff

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks Landscape Architect, Merel S. Sager designed the Giant Forest Village Camp in Sequoia.
Yosemite National Park Currently, R. Brad Lewis is the Landscape Architect/Project Manager for Yosemite National Park.
Pinnacles National Park NPS hired RRM Design Group in 2013 to create new facilities at the west entrance.
Lassen Volcanic National Park Hoggson, Noble Landscape Architects worked on the park from 1933-1936.
Redwood National Park

Northern California is best known for their breezy coastlines, tourist attractions such as the Golden Gate Bridge, and a unique and diverse geography that includes five national parks. These parks feature the tallest trees in the world, amazing mountain ranges and valleys, volcanic formations, and lively forests.

Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks
Sequoia National Park is America's second-oldest national park and was established on September 25, 1890. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks has been jointly administered since 1943. The 865,964 acres of the park are defined by huge mountains, rugged foothills, deep canyons, vast caverns, and the world's largest trees.
The wilderness of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks protects an extraordinary continuum of ecosystems arrayed along the greatest vertical relief (1,370 to 14,505 feet in elevation) of any protected area in the lower 48 states. Glacial canyons, broad lake basins, lush meadows, and sheer granite peaks hallmark of the most rugged portion of the High Sierra, form the core of the largest expanse of contiguous wilderness in California.
This topographic diversity in turn supports over 1,200 species (and more than 1,550 taxa, including subspecies and varieties) of vascular plants, which make up dozens of unique plant communities. These include not only the renowned groves of massive giant sequoia, but also vast tracts of montane forests, alpine habitats, and oak woodlands and chaparral.
The richness of the Sierran flora mirrors that of the state as a whole, as there are nearly 6,000 species of vascular plants known to occur in California, and over 20% of them can be found within Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

Yosemite National Park
First protected in 1864, Yosemite National Park is best known for its waterfalls, but its 759,620 acres contain deep valleys, grand meadows, ancient giant sequoias, a vast wilderness area, and much more.
Yosemite is a glaciated landscape, where glaciers have carved the smooth domes of Tuolumne Meadows, the jagged high-country peaks, and the dramatic walls of Yosemite Valley. This scenery was the basis for Yosemite's preservation as a national park. Granite, because of its durability and strength, preserves these bold forms. While glaciers have retreated from all but the highest peaks, Yosemite's iconic cliffs continue to be shaped today by rockfall and other erosive processes.
Vegetation areas within Yosemite features oak woodlands, chaparral scrublands, lower montane and upper montane, and subalpine forests and alpine meadows. Found within the alpine zone are krummholz whitebark pines along with western juniper and mountain hemlock. The combination of climate, topography, moisture, and soils influence the distribution of plant communities across an elevation gradient from 1,800 feet
(549 m) to over 13,000 feet (3,900 m).

Pinnacles National Park
Pinnacles National Park is said to have been created about 23 million years ago when multiple volcanoes erupted, flowed, and slid to form 26,606 acres of the national park. What remains is a unique landscape consisting of chaparral, oak woodlands, and canyon bottoms.
Geologic forces have created the landscape of Pinnacles, but a climate of hot dry summers and winter rains has also shaped the terrain. The vegetation of the park transforms each year as the rain stops and temperatures climb; hillsides go from vibrant green to golden brown within days. Many of the chaparral plants thrive when fires burn through to make room for new growth. Streams that are dry throughout the summer can flood during the winter and spring rains.

Lassen Volcanic National Park
Although Lassen is primarily known for its volcanic geology, the park boasts a rich diversity of plant and animal life. Over 700 flowering plant species grace the 106,452-acre park, providing shelter and food for 250 vertebrates as well as a host of invertebrates including insects. This great diversity of life forms is due to two factors: the geographic location of the park and the abundance of habitats that occur there. Situated at the southern end of the Cascade Range geologic province, Lassen Volcanic National Park lies at the crossroads of three great biological provinces: the Cascades range to the north, the Sierra Nevada mountains to the south and the Great Basin Desert to the east.
At elevations below 6,500 feet, the conifer forest features Ponderosa and Jeffrey pines, sugar pine, and white fir and species of manzanita, gooseberry and ceanothus. Common wildflowers include iris, spotted coralroot, pyrola, violets, and lupine.
Above the mixed conifer forest is the major community of the red fir forest. Between elevations of 6,500 and 8,000 feet, red fir, western white pine, mountain hemlock, and lodgepole pine dominate a community less diverse than the mixed-conifer forest. Common plants include satin lupine, woolly mule's-ears and pinemat manzanita.

Redwood National Park
Redwood National and State Park is found along the northern coast of the country, which is the most seismically active region in the United States. As a result of frequent earthquakes, rapid uplift rates have led to landslides, actively braiding and shifting rivers, and rapid coastal erosion which helped form the 138,999-acre park.
In redwood forests, trees shed their leaves allowing decomposers to create a rich dark layer of soil on the surface. Nutrients from their leaves and other plant litter are recycled back into the soil. This topsoil also acts as a shield, protecting Redwood's shallow roots from being trampled. Soil organic matter is the accumulation of dead plant material, partially decayed plant and animal residues, and is approximately 50 percent carbon.
The old-growth redwoods are the world's tallest trees, but they are also just one species in an
incredibly varied ecosystem. From the wind-pruned, salt-tolerant Sitka spruce by the seaside, to the cool, moist redwood groves, and sunny, open grasslands of the prairies, visitors can find an interconnected community of greenery.


Sign up for
LAWeekly newsletter. Get exclusive content today.