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California's Epic Natural Wonders

From prehistoric times to the modern day, the Golden State is an ecological wonderland

There are few places on earth than can claim the breadth of natural wonders and biodiversity that exist in California. You can find natural wonders in literally every corner of the state—from alpine forest to rugged desert to city sidewalk.

This episode of the California Now Podcast is dedicated to the ecological wonderland that is the Golden State, and some of the most compelling ways visitors can experience it. First, Johnson hops into a time machine of sorts to learn about the origins of the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles with paleoecologist Dr. Emily Lindsey. She shares all sorts of fascinating insights about this paleontological treasure trove—a spot in the center of Los Angeles where sabre-toothed cats and mastodons meet the 21st century.

Johnson's next guest, horticulturist Jason Dewees, lays out some magnificent ways to marvel at California's diverse assortment of trees, including redwoods that practically touch the heavens, cartoonishly appealing Joshua trees, and majestic desert palms. Johnson's final guest is Obi Kaufmann, author of the acclaimed The California Field Atlas, who shares his unbridled passion for his home state's biodiversity.

Sponsor: Visit Central Valley
Food and wine are abundant in this region filled with orchards, vineyards, and farms. Home to many of California's finest museums and galleries, the valley offers a wide variety of live entertainment, events, and attractions welcoming visitors year-round.


Dr. Emily Lindsey, assistant curator and excavation site director at the La Brea Tar Pits & Museum

Jason Dewees, horticulturist and author of Designing with Palms

Obi Kaufmann, author of The California Field Atlas


Paleoecologist Dr. Emily Lindsey says the La Brea Tar Pits are still an active (and world-class) paleontological site, with new fossils unearthed regularly.

La Brea Tar Pits & Museum

Los Angeles

The Fossil Lab

Horticulturist and Designing with Palms author Jason Dewees can point listeners toward some of the coolest trees in the state.

Flora Grubb Gardens

San Francisco

San Francisco Trees



Modoc County

Lava Beds National Monument

Mono Lake

Bristlecone Pines


Palm Springs

Joshua Tree National Park

Keys View

Thousand Palms Oasis

Indian Canyons

Obi Kaufmann, author of The California Field Atlas, says biodiversity is the real California gold.

The Forests of California

The State of Water

California Condors

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Mount Diablo

Mojave Wildlife National Preserve

Death Valley National Park

About the Host

Soterios Johnson, formerly the local host of National Public Radio’s Morning Edition on radio station WNYC, moved from New York City to Davis in 2016. By combining his journalistic instincts with his personal curiosity, Johnson uses the California Now Podcast platform to develop a deeper understanding of his adopted home.

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