There are seven National Parks in Baja California which have been so designated because of their important ecosystems, their beautiful natural landscapes, and the diversity and endemism of the flora and fauna. Ranging from pine-covered mountains to remote Sea of Cortez islands and waters full of endangered species of marine life, they perfectly capture the diversity and natural beauty of the region.
Parque Nacional Constitución de 1857
Located in the Sierra de Juárez mountain range and with an average elevation of about a mile above sea level, this park is covered in a variety of coniferous trees and receives snow in the winter. There’s lots of great hiking and the weather is mild from the spring to fall. There are 10 camping areas or there are rustic cabins available to rent throughout the park.
Location: Northeast of Ensenada, BC
How to Visit: There are two main points of access. From the north, there’s a dirt road turn off on Mexico 2 between Tecate and Mexicali at Km. 71. For southern access, there’s a dirt road turn off on Mexico 3 (from Ensenada to San Felipe) at Km. 53.
Must-See Sights: Laguna Hanson (also called Laguna Juárez), a seasonal high-meadow lake nestled into the pine trees.
Size: 12,380 acres
Year Established as a Park: 1962
Flora/Fauna: Trees and plant species include Jeffrey and Stone Pines, and lots of Manzanita. Animals such as bighorn sheep, cougars, bobcats, deer, eagles and flacons call the park home.
More information on the Parque Nacional Constitución Facebook page.
Parque Nacional Sierra de San Pedro Mártir
With mountains covered in pine trees and snow in the winter, San Pedro Mártir also boasts the highest peak on the peninsula, Mt. Picacho del Diablo at 10,157 feet high. The two-day hike to the top of Mt. Picacho del Diablo should be made with a local guide. There are also plenty of day hiking opportunities throughout the park as well as multiple campsites. The park is also home to the National Astronomical Observatory, which is open to tours. From the observatory, you can see views of both the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez. Read our full guide to the Sierra de San Pedro Mártir.
Location: Northeast of San Quintín, BC
How to Visit: There’s a turn off from Mexico 1 at Km. 170 in San Telmo (between Ensenada and San Quintín). From here it’s about 50 miles to the park.
Must-See Sights: The park is home to a successful California condor reintroduction program. There are currently 43 condors living in the park.
Size: 180,160 acres
Year Established as a Park: 1947
Flora/Fauna: Trees include pine, fir, and other conifers. Mammals include bighorn sheep, puma, mountain cats, and deer. Birds such as eagles, quail, road runners, and, of course, the famous California condors.
More information on the Parque Nacional San Pedro Mártir Facebook page.
Parque Nacional Zona Marina del Archipiélago de San Lorenzo
The park is comprised of an archipelago of islands (San Lorenzo, Las Animas, Salsipuedes, Rasa, and Partida) and is an important habitat for a number of threatened, vulnerable, and endangered species. This is considered one of the most important ecological areas of the Sea of Cortez. Most of the park is ocean, with the few rugged, uninhabited islands creating a rich ecosystem.
Location: South of Bahía de los Ángeles, BC
How to Visit: You’ll have to visit by boat and the islands are very remote with no services or inhabitants. Bahía de los Ángeles is the nearest town.
Must-See Sights: The park is home to a number of endangered species of marine life and avian birds
Size: 124,640 acres
Year Established as a Park: 2005
Flora/Fauna: The park is home to a number of endangered species such as blue whales, humpback whales, orca, sperm whales, green turtles, hawksbill turtles, olive ridley turtles and totoaba. Rasa island is an important nesting site for Heermann’s gull, elegant tern, American oystercatcher, Craveri’s mullet and brown pelican. 95% of the world’s Heermann’s gull and elegant tern live there.
More information on the Parque Nacional San Lorenzo Facebook page.
Parque Nacional Bahía de Loreto
There are five main uninhabited islands and many smaller islets within this relatively pristine marine ecosystem in the Sea of Cortez, but 90 percent of this park is water. There are fantastic dive and snorkeling sites throughout the park, and much of the allure of the park is the fantastic marine life. In addition to being a National Park, it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Location: Bay of Loreto, BCS
How to Visit: The best way to explore the park is to take a boat ride from Loreto out to explore the waters teeming with marine life, the deserted islands, and white sand beaches.
Must-See Sights: Isla Coronado boasts a sea lion colony in addition to beautiful deserted white sand beaches with turquoise bays.
Size: 510,472 acres
Year Established as a Park: 1996
Flora/Fauna: There are over 260 species of fish found within the park in addition to other marine life such as sea turtles, blue whales, humpback whales, pilot whales, orcas, dolphins, and sea lions.
More information on the Parque Nacional Bahía de Loreto Facebook page.
Parque Nacional Zona Marina del Archipiélago de Espíritu Santo
There are more than 900 islands and islets in this protected area of the Sea of Cortez in La Paz. The islands were formed by volcanic activity and provide a stark but beautiful contrast between the rugged desert islands and the bountiful marine life. White sand beaches with shallow jewel-toned water can be found along the bays of the islands. The park is incredibly rich with wildlife and natural resources, and is a popular tourist destination.
Location: Bay of La Paz, BCS
How to Visit: Take a boat from La Paz. Depending on your interests you can spend the day snorkeling, diving, or kayaking. There are also a few outfitters that offer multi-day tours, camping on the islands.
Must-See Sights: Isla Espíritu Santo is the largest and most famous island in the park. On the north side of the island is Los Islotes, a sea lion colony where tourists can swim and snorkel with the sea lions.
Size: 120,226 acres
Year Established as a Park: 2007
Flora/Fauna: There are more than 200 plant species with 53 of them being endemic. There’s a huge variety of fish as well as birds. Sharks, rays, sea turtles, dolphins, sea lions, whale sharks, and a variety of whales can be seen in the park as well.
More information on the Parque Nacional Espíritu Santo Facebook page.
Parque Nacional Cabo Pulmo
As one of only three coral reefs on the west coast of North America, the reef is estimated to be 20,000 years old and is the only living reef in the Sea of Cortez. There are eight separate fingers of the reef, four close to shore and the other four out in the bay. In 2005 the park also became a UNESCO World Heritage site. Parque Nacional Cabo Pulmo is one of the most popular destinations for scuba diving and snorkeling on the peninsula.
Location: East Cape, BCS
How to Visit: The small town of Cabo Pulmo has a handful of small hotels as well as a number of dive operators. It’s also possible explore the reef by snorkeling from the shore.
Must-See Sights: El Bajo is one of the most popular reefs in the park, that must be reached by boat. There are 12 species of coral (of 14 species found worldwide) that can be seen here and abundant marine life to accompany it.
Size: 17,575 acres
Year Established as a Park: 1995
Flora/Fauna: It’s all about the marine life here. The waters are teeming with sharks, moray eels, sea turtles, mobula rays, octopus, lobsters, sea lions, and huge schools of tropical fish.
More information on the Parque Nacional Cabo Pulmo Facebook page.
Parque Nacional Revillagigedo
While many people haven’t heard of it, this is the largest fully protected marine reserve in North America. It was a UNESCO Heritage Site before being designated as a National Park and the protected area comprises an archipelago that is part of an underground mountain range with volcanic peaks emerging as four islands (the largest being Isla Socorro). The area attracts divers who make the journey to see the rays and variety of sharks. While Baja California considers this to be one of their parks, the islands are actually part of the state of Colima. In 1861, Mexican President Juarez placed the islands under control of the state of Colima with plans for a federal penitentiary to be built on Socorro. For a number of reasons, the plans never came to fruition.
Location: In the Pacific Ocean 330 miles southwest of Cabo
How to Visit: Take a liveaboard from Cabo. The 240-mile journey takes about 24 hours.
Must-See Sights: Diving with the sharks and giant Manta Rays (with wingspans of over 20 feet)
Size: 37,120,000 acres
Year Established as a Park: 2017
Flora/Fauna: The park is home to a number of endemic plant and animal species and is known for having the greatest concentration of megafauna in North America such as silky sharks, hammerhead sharks, whale sharks, giant manta rays, tuna, and humpback whales.
More information on the Parque Nacional Revillagigedo Facebook page.