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Discover San Diego's 7 Natural Wonders

Photo-Worthy Natural Wonders Abound in San Diego

Gorgeous sites in San Diego that are accessible with hiking boots, tennis shoes or swimsuits. Get exploring!

Explore These 7 Photo-Worthy Natural Wonders

Home to a variety of habitats ranging from intertidal wetland and chaparral-covered canyons to alpine mountains and pristine desert wilderness, San Diego teems with stunning scenery. The following are seven of San Diego's top natural wonders—a bucket list of sensational sights sure to impress!

Torrey Pines

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

Enjoy wind-swept sandstone formations and spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean along the six hiking trails ranging from easy, family friendly paths to more advance trails. Nestled atop the scenic cliffs of La Jolla, Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is one of only two places on earth where nature lovers can find the nation's rarest pine tree, the Torrey Pine (Pinus torreyana).

> Explore the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

LaJolla Underwater Park

La Jolla Underwater Park

Dive into the West Coast's first underwater preserve, spanning 6,000 acres of ocean floor and tideland, teeming with marine life above and below the surface of the water. Expect to encounter seals, sea lions, bright orange Garibaldi fish, leopard sharks in the summer, pelicans and more.

Bonus: Nearby the La Jolla Underwater Park are the seven sea caves of La Jolla Cove. Sunny Jim Cave is the only known land access sea cave on the California coast and can be accessed by the Cave Store in the heart of La Jolla Village.

> Learn more about Scuba Diving in San Diego

 

Sunset Cliffs San Diego CA Ocean Level

Sunset Cliffs' Hidden Sea Cave

This needs to be seen to be believed! Tucked beneath sandstone bluffs on the southern end of Luscomb's Point (adjacent to Sunset Cliffs Blvd, just north of Monaco St), is this curious chasm. Peer through the chain link fence to view the illuminated boulder-strewn cavern below. It's best to enjoy the cave from above and avoid the dangerous waves and currents below.

Rumor has it that the cave was used to smuggle rum from Mexico to the houses above during the Prohibition era.

> Discover the Beaches of Point Loma

Potato Chip Rock

Potato Chip Rock

Discover why this popular narrow strip of stone jutting out of the mountain along the Mt. Woodson Trail attracts shutterbugs and rock climbers alike. This fun photo opportunity is well worth the hike, which averages three hours uphill and one hour down through a labyrinth of giant granite boulders, and can be accessed from either side of the mountain (up the west side of the mountain from Lake Poway or up a service road from Route 67 in Ramona). Whichever way to choose, bring plenty of water and go early morning or late afternoon during the summer months. Also, expect a bit of a wait to get your chance for a photo. 

> The Seven Best Inland Hikes

Aerial View Coastal San Diego County

Annie's Canyon Trial

Journey along this newly restored trail in San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve. The moderate-to-strenuous 1/4 mile 200 feet climb to a vista point offers panoramic views of the reserve and the Pacific Ocean. The joy is in the journey as steep switchbacks pass through the naturally sculpted sandstone walls and narrow slot corridors that "create a sense of mystery and wonder."

> Explore to San Diego's North Coastal Region

Cedar Creek San Diego Ca Hiking Trail

Cedar Creek Falls

Trek the challenging 6 mile roundtrip hike over chaparral-covered hills to this spectacular waterfall plunging 80 feet into a pool of water. This strenuous hike requires a visitors permit and a minimum of one gallon of water. Please be advised the cliffs surrounding the falls are closed and there is no climbing, jumping or diving. Also, the waterfall can be a little dry during warmer months.

Trailhead: Cleveland National Forest, 15519 Thornbush Rd, Ramona, CA 92065. Take Wildcat Canyon Road and San Vicente Road to Ramona Oaks Road and then to Thornbush Road in Ramona.

> 8 of San Diego County's Best Waterfalls

Anza Borrego Cactus

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

This seemingly boundless preserve, "one of the most pristine desert parks in the world" (according to National Geographic) and the largest state park in California, features rugged badlands, slot canyons, mud caves, hidden palm oases, colorful wildflowers in the spring and jaw-dropping overlooks such as Fonts Point — sometimes called "California's Grand Canyon" — and Vista del Malpais.

> Explore Anza-Borrego Desert State Park


Looking for more fun things to do? From where to shop, eat and play to what's happening around town, the Visitor Planning Guide is your roadmap to San Diego fun. 

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