The Northern Coast of California offers a rich variety of forest, grassland, and coastal landforms. From protected sandy beach coves, to sharp bluffs and sheer cliffs that plunge down into the sea. Rocky beaches provide an opportunity to study tide-pools and the inter-tidal zone, while the hillsides shelter magnificent Redwood forests.
The deserts of Southern California are known for their stark landscapes of jagged mountains, rolling hills, and seasonal washes. A land of surprising variety and complexity, as well as of extreme fragility. Viewed from the roadside, deserts only hint at their hidden life- but to the close observer, a tiny flower, a lizard's frantic dash, or a bird’s chirp reveals the desert as a place of beauty and life.
The mild climate of the southern coast of California makes it ideal for year round environmental education. Coastal sage scrub, oak woodland hills, sycamore filled canyons, and fine sandy beaches offer a variety of ecosystems to explore.
Want to stay close to home? California's Bay Area offers an array of state and regional parks that can be accessed within an hour or so drive from most campuses. Redwood trees, seashores, and beautiful mountains are just the beginning of what this region has to offer.
Santa Cruz Mountains
The Santa Cruz Mountains are the San Francisco Bay Area's urban wilderness. Naturalists at Large offers programs at several sites surrounding Santa Cruz and Monterey. Day options near Santa Cruz also include sea kayaking at Elkhorn Slough or Monterrey Bay and visits to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Santa Monica Mountains
The chaparral community of the Santa Monica Mountains is a wonderful backyard for the greater LA basin. Students may spend a few days trailing Malibu creek from it's headwaters in Malibu Creek State Park to the estuary at Malibu Lagoon. There are also opportunities for a 100' rappel and exciting challenge courses.
San Bernardino Mountains
A mountain experience only a few hours from metropolitan LA! Rising over 7000ft from the surrounding desert communities, the San Bernardino Mountains are an ideal place for students to explore a mixed conifer ecosystem and study fire ecology, or try their hand at exciting challenge courses and rock climbing.
Sierra Nevada Mountains
The Sierra Nevada Mountains stretch 400 miles along CA’s eastern border. Spanish for “snowy mountain range”, this immense chain of bright granite peaks once inspired John Muir to name it “The Range of Light”. Numerous site options line this pristine wilderness with modest travel times from LA, the Bay Area, and Reno area schools.
Central Coast & Mountains
California's central coast and coastal range exhibit a beautiful array of biomes. Here students may explore verdant tide pools along the windswept beach, or rock climb on the ancient remnants of a volcanic caldera. These sites are great for an introductory camping experience.