California State Parks Map: The California Explorer Pass

May 22, 2017
A Weekend Guide to Newport Beach, California | Things to do in Newport Beach

We recently relocated back to southern California, about an hour south of where we used to live in Los Angeles. Even though it’s a relatively short drive away from our old home, it feels like a whole new place to explore. Just within these past few months we’ve discovered some of our new favorite beaches and hiking spots, and realized we can do a much better job of being a hometown tourist.

The Golden State is home to 9 national parks and 118 state parks. We’ve already visited most of the national parks, like Yosemite, Joshua Tree and Sequoia. Now we’re trying to visit as many state parks as we can. We’re lucky to be within a fifteen-minute drive of a few of the most beautiful state parks, like Crystal Cove and Huntington Beach. We decided to purchase a California State Park pass (the California Explorer Annual Pass) to make it a bit more convenient and cost-effective; most of the state parks cost about $15/day, so the annual pass has already paid for itself as we typically use it several times a week.

We created a California State Parks Map to make it easy to plot our adventures over this next year. On the map below, you can see which California state parks are included in the California Explorer Annual Pass. We also included all of the parks, preserves and monuments in The America the Beautiful-The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass (what a mouthful!). This map makes it easy to find a few parks close together to visit on the same trip. Have fun exploring!

The Slot in Anza Borrego Desert State Park

The Slot in Anza Borrego State Park

California State Parks

Cost: Typically $15/vehicle (one day)

California Explorer Annual Pass: $195

National Parks

Cost: Typically $30/vehicle (includes 7 days)

America the Beautiful-The National Parks Annual Pass: $80/year (not discounted)

California State Parks Map Legend

Green: National Parks, Preserves and Monuments (included in the national park annual pass)

Blue: California State Parks (included in California Explorer annual pass)

Red: California State Parks (not included in California Explorer pass)

Each pin within the map includes a link to the official park website with more information to plan your trip.

California State Parks Map | A Map to State Parks included in the California Explorer Annual Pass

Crystal Cove State Park

Like this post? Pin it here!

California State Parks Map | A Map to State Parks included in the California Explorer Annual Pass
California State Parks Map | A Map to State Parks included in the California Explorer Annual Pass

You Might Also Like


  • Reply Agness of aTukTuk May 22, 2017 at 3:52 pm

    These parks are so breathtaking, Kelly and Aaron! I would love to visit California!

    • Reply nomanbefore May 22, 2017 at 4:12 pm

      Hey Agness! Hope you get to visit soon. 🙂 California has some real stunners. But even living here again, I’m not sure how we’re going to get to all of these parks. We’d love to though!

  • Reply Katie June 2, 2017 at 6:44 am

    Great info and absolutely stunning photos! I must get to Cali more often.

    • Reply nomanbefore June 2, 2017 at 1:24 pm

      Thanks Katie! There are so many beautiful spots in California, we hope we can make it to a lot of them this year!

  • Reply Robert June 2, 2017 at 8:00 am

    Always enjoy camping the State Parks up and down the Coast from Canada. Thanks for taking the time to do the easy pin map. Will definitely bookmark this page for travels. 🙂

    • Reply nomanbefore June 2, 2017 at 1:25 pm

      Hi Robert, trip down the entire coast sounds incredible. I hope this helps on your next road trip!

  • Reply Jessica | Magnets from Everywhere July 13, 2017 at 8:28 am

    We are pretty new to California and also taking advantage of all the wonderful state and national parks! We bought the Explorer Pass partially because it was a great deal, but mostly because we were always showing up places without cash! The pass makes it much easier! We’re in the Bay Area and haven’t made it further south than Santa Barbara yet, but we can’t wait to really explore southern California.

    • Reply nomanbefore July 13, 2017 at 8:54 am

      Hey Jessica! The pass does really make it so convenient. That’s great you guys are exploring up north; there are some beautiful parks! I’m sure you’ll love it when you come down south too!

  • Reply A Weekend Guide to Newport Beach | Things To Do In Newport Beach, CA December 7, 2017 at 5:17 pm

    […] Visit Crystal Cove State Park. Before we moved, we were debating which city in Orange County to soon call home. What drew me to Newport Beach was the 3 miles of natural protected coastline called Crystal Cove, and it’s still my favorite place to go. It’s one of the few places where multi-million, 4-story mansions aren’t cut down into the cliffs, and the incredible views get to be enjoyed by all. It costs $15 to park for the full day, or $5 for the sunset rate, which is usually about an hour before sunset. If you go as often as we do, it’s well worth it to buy the California State Park Pass. […]

  • Reply Herbert December 18, 2017 at 2:56 pm

    Love the info!! Small correction to your State Parks Map. At Kenneth Hahn State Park they DO NOT accept the state pass because it is actually run by the County of Los Angeles, BUT the scenic overlook (which has a different entrace), does accept the State Pass. Thanks again.

    • Reply nomanbefore December 20, 2017 at 9:08 pm

      Hi Herbert, thanks so much for the heads up. We’ll make a note in the map.

  • Reply Spring January 16, 2018 at 10:08 am

    Found your blog while looking up Portugal, then got sucked into checking out your other adventures – what a great website! On a non-travel related note (and such a “girl” question… Where is Kelly’s coral high-low skirt from? It’s adorable!

    • Reply nomanbefore January 16, 2018 at 11:56 pm

      Hopefully you found some helpful info (and you’re planning a trip to Portugal!) and it wasn’t just a time suck! I’m pretty sure my skirt is from Billabong, but it’s a few years old. 🙂

  • Reply A Complete Guide to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park May 26, 2018 at 12:17 am

    […] we purchased the California State Park pass last year, we’ve been trying to visit our state parks as often as possible. It wasn’t […]

  • Reply A Classic Summer SoCal Getaway in San Clemente, California June 28, 2019 at 12:17 pm

    […] San Onofre State Beach – San Onofre feels like the classic So Cal summer scene, with its long, slow rolling waves perfect for longboards, old VW buses, and Westfalias filling the dusty dirt parking lot, and the sand dotted with beach blankets and colorful umbrellas. Parking is $15, or included with a California Explorer Pass. […]

  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.