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National Parks Are Free This Weekend And Here Are The Best Ones Near L.A.

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California has an abundance of beautiful national parks, from Yosemite to Joshua Tree to Death Valley.

If you're hoping to indulge in this offering soon, you're just in luck; National Park Week runs from April 15 to April 23, and all National Parks will be offering free admission during this weekend and next. According to the National Park Service, this week is "America's largest celebration of national heritage." It's a great opportunity to experience nature in an accessible way (especially urgent, as the fate of the Department of the Interior is in flux). While not all national parks require entrance fees to begin with, it's still a great opportunity to check out the outdoors.

Here are some of our favorite places to visit that are located within a couple hours of Los Angeles (you can also find a full listing of parks here):

Juan Bautista de Anza Trail
This national park has had a lot of traffic lately because part of it runs through the Anza-Borrego Desert National Park, one of the most colorful spots for the superbloom this year. Anza-Borrego is only one section of this 1400-mile trail, though, so National Park Week is a great opportunity to explore everything else the trail offers. The L.A. County portion of the trail includes the San Gabriel Mission, which served as the base for the pueblo that went on to found Los Angeles. Juan Bautista de Anza was the leader of a colonial trek from what is now the Arizona/Mexico border all the way to the San Francisco bay area, so the trail follows their expedition and traverses some of the most beautiful and historic parts of California.

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Mission San Gabriel is located at 428 S Mission Dr, San Gabriel. The Juan Bautista de Anza Trail crosses all of California.

Channel Islands
Off the California coast sits a beautiful set of islands with incredible biodiversity and views. Five of those islands make up the Channel Islands National Park. They remain mostly undeveloped and are highly accessible from the mainland, providing a great opportunity to interact with nature without committing to a seven hour drive into the desert (the boat trips to get to the islands range from one to four hours off the Ventura harbor). The islands offer opportunities for kayaking, hiking, scuba diving, and cave exploring. It's a true escape from the dense population of Southern California. It's also a miracle the islands are still in good shape: in 1969, one of the biggest national oil spills occurred off the Santa Barbara coast and endangered many of the native species and brought oil onto the shores of most of the islands.

Boats to the islands dock at Island Packer Cruises, located at 1691 Spinnaker Dr #105B, Ventura.

César E. Chávez National Monument

The César E. Chávez National Monument is a monument rather than a full-fledged park, but it offers an incredible look into the history of civil rights and migrant rights in California. César Chávez Day is March 31, so visiting the monument would be a perfect (slightly belated) way of honoring the work Chávez did for farmworkers in the state with the largest agricultural output in the nation. The site includes the former headquarters of the United Farm Workers, the labor organization that formed after the farm workers' strikes in 1965. The monument is also a very recent addition to the National Park Service; President Obama gave the site its designation in 2012.

The César E. Chávez National Monument is located at 29700 Woodford-Tehachapi Road, Keene.

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