See Some Of California's Most Beautiful Natural Wonders On This Iconic Road Trip

Given that California's long shape reaches a range of latitudes, this westernmost state in the continent manages to have everything from mountains and beaches to deserts and massive forests. Its various landscapes make it a dream destination for road trippers who will not be short of options when planning a route. There is definitely something for everyone in the Golden State.

Specifically, California is a must-see for nature enthusiasts. A road trip which highlights some of what the state has to offer is Ebbetts Pass Scenic Byway on Highway 4 and 89, one of seven nationally designated byways in California. It begins east of San Francisco in the middle of the state and ends near the border shared with Nevada. Between two national forests — Eldorado and Stanislaus — this road reaches high elevations and features the state's iconic giant sequoia trees. Additionally, the byway's towns and campsites offer refuge after long days of trekking through the beautiful scenery, as well as opportunities to ski or even swim, depending on whether you're visiting during the colder or warmer months.

See giant sequoia trees at Calaveras Big Trees State Park

The first stop on Ebbetts Pass National Scenic Byway is just under a three hour drive east of San Francisco in Arnold, California. This small town has hiking trails to spare and among them is the Top of the World trail. Though getting to its trailhead means traversing through winding roads, the views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains are hard to beat. You can also reach this "Top of the World" point from the Arnold Rim Trail, which begins near the Sierra Nevada Logging Museum, or from Oak Court, a street which juts off from Highway 4.

While many head to California's Sequoia National Park to walk among the largest trees on the world, Calaveras Big Trees State Park right on Highway 4 also boasts plenty of giant sequoia trees. Yet, exploring this park means more than just trees as Calaveras features ancient volcanic formations and the Stanislaus River. From May through November both tents and RVs are welcome at the park. Throughout your stay, be considerate regarding the local wildlife and do not attract any animals by leaving food unattended in your campsite. As the unwritten rules of camping go, "pack it in, pack it out," and "leave no trace" — meaning, whatever you bring with you during your stay, should leave with you when you depart. 

Ski and stay at Bear Valley Mountain Resort

The region near Lake Alpine on Ebbetts Pass Scenic Byway provides multiple winter activities. At Lake Alpine SNO-Park, you can cross-country ski, use snowmobiles, or even dog sled. Bear Valley Mountain Resort has over 75 trails with rankings from easy to the infamous double black diamond, making it a great place to hit the slopes regardless of your level of expertise. The resort offers lessons for all ages and equipment rentals as well. They also have an onsite lodge with hotel rooms perfect for warming up after a long day on the mountain.

Heading toward Markleeville, Ebbetts Pass Scenic Byway curves onto Highway 89. Markleeville is not only a quaint town dating back to the mid-1800s, but also the gateway to more outdoor adventures. Just west of the town is Grover Hot Springs State Park with both hot and cold pools with water from mineral hot springs. Campsites are available year round, but prices and amenities change with the seasons. You do not have to camp overnight to enjoy the park, however. Swimming, hiking, and general exploring can be done all in a day's work.