Map Features and How to Use
Explore your public lands in California.
Our map features recreation sites on public lands throughout the state across public land management agencies. Find your next hike or camping destination, decide where to fish, climb, hunt, make the most of the snow, enjoy the water, or plan a roadside picnic along a scenic drive out west.
Even after Don Cabrillo explored the California coast, in the middle of the 16th century, it took a while for the word to get out that there was a very special land at the western end of the New World. For the next 300 years, the Spanish settlements and missions expanded slowly through southern California, co-existing more or less peacefully with the indigenous peoples.
Then the Americans blazed a trail overland, and discovering the richness of the mines, the agricultural land, and the forests, eventually annexed the land from Mexico. Since then, California has been synonymous with clement weather, sublime natural beauty, and richly varied ecosystems. From sandy beaches on the Pacific Coast to the glaciers of the Sierra Nevadas, California's public lands encompass forests of giant redwoods, sequoias, and Joshua trees, vast expanses of exotic desert, fertile valley wetlands, and all sorts of fascinating transition zones.
The long coast, with its bays, beaches, harbors, and cliffs, was just waiting to be enjoyed, and the Pacific Ocean, supporting rich and diverse marine life, was open for trade, fishing, and sports. At first the inland mountains were viewed as a barrier, but as soon as explorers really plunged into the Sierra Nevadas and the northern forests, they were enchanted with the majestic peaks, the giant trees, the pristine lakes, the tumbling rivers and the glacial valleys. Even the harsh Mojave desert, the hottest and lowest place in the nation, is loved for its spare beauty, its rejuvenating solitude, its carefully balanced ecosystem, and its awesome climbing routes.
Take some time to explore the wonders of California here. You will discover a wealth of detailed information about where to go and what to do while touring the public lands of this state.
In our Shop & Maps sections, you can purchase books, maps, and other educational items to make your virtual or real visit truly rewarding. To begin your journey, click on recreation site, use the filters above, or start searching.
For information on lodging, museums, tribal lands, and commercial attractions or services, contact the California Office of Tourism. For information about hunting and fishing regulations and licensing information for California, please contact the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.