The public image of Southern California fixates on Hollywood, beaches with palm trees, and endless freeways. In reaility these stereotypes are concentrated in a fairly narrow band along the coast, dominated by the vast metropolis of Los Angeles. But across the mountains and free of the congestion and pollution there is another reality, amazing landscapes of mountains and deserts, and off the coast is a chain of islands that few people ever see. In all there are four national parks in the Southland.
I tend to avoid the urban areas of Southern California but love to travel through the transmontane deserts and ranges, especially in the winter and spring. Nonetheless I find Los Angeles fascinating (and horrifying at the same time) and plan further panoramic excursions there, as well as additional coverage in the pleasant environs of Santa Barbara and San Diego. I have visited three of the Channel Islands and hope to add one more.