Read an Excerpt
CALIFORNIA'S MOTTO, Eureka, translated in English as "I have found it," refers to the discovery of gold in the Sierra Nevada in 1848, but it also echoes the feelings of those who experience this remarkable state.
California is a state of great contrasts. Its highest point, Mount Whitney, is nearly 15,000 feet above sea level, and its lowest, Death Valley, is 282 feet below sea level. Its population of more than 36 million is greater than Canada's, and nearly 10 million people live in Los Angeles County alone. Yet there are enormous stretches of desert and forest that are barely populated.
This book can provide only a sampling of the state's scenic wonders and great cities. Your tour starts in the north, with the majestic beauty of Mount Shasta and Redwood National Park, and ends in the southern desert area,
where oases, ancient animals and odd-looking trees seem oblivious to the passage of time. Along the way are detours to some of the state's most important Spanish missions, where much of California's history began.
Moving south, you visit world-famous wineries and lush vineyards. Next is a trip to gold country, with its pioneer history. From there, the journey moves to San Francisco -- one of the most beautiful and cosmopolitan cities in the world. A visit to the High Sierras is next, with renowned national parks, crystal clear lakes and snow-capped mountains. A trip down the Pacific coast offers breathtaking vistas. Moving inland, you find the golden sand dunes of Death Valley and the Mojave Desert. The next stop is Los Angeles County -- the glamour of Hollywood alongside some unexpected locations -- followed by a visit to Orange County and the magic of Disneyland. Next on the tour is San Diego County, with scenic coves and a remarkable zoo.
From the grandeur of its parks to the stark beauty of its deserts, from spectacular coastal scenery to fertile vineyards, and from cosmopolitan cities to lively coastal towns, the state offers an abundance of treasures. We hope you'll enjoy them as you travel the pages of America the Beautiful -- California.