Yosemite National Park
If you've booked a holiday to California and you're a fan of the great outdoors, the chances are that you're already Googling ”where is Yosemite National Park?' You'll find it in the Sierra Nevada mountains, covering around 1,200 square miles. The scenery is simply stunning, offering deep valleys, quaint meadows, wild wilderness, age-old giant sequoias and the world-famous waterfalls.
The park is a paradise for photographers, and there are plenty of things to see and do, whether you like your adventure time to be packed with thrills and spills, or on the quieter side. Don't forget your camera and a good pair of binoculars,
What to see
It's almost impossible to pick a list of top spots, as the whole park is stunning. However, there are some panoramas and attractions that are among the most popular.
First on your list of things to see at the Yosemite National Park should be Glacier Point. Formed thousands of years ago as the park's glaciers were worn away, it offers outstanding views of the surrounding valley and the Half Dome.
For a real treat, visit at sunrise or sunset. Half Dome is another must-see. While it's possible to drive there, hardier visitors tackle the 15-mile hike to the top. No matter how you choose to get there, you'll be rewarded with a unique view of the rugged mountain range below.
If you're a climber, get your carabiners in order and head for the aptly-named El Capitan. Looming over 3,000 feet in height, it attracts rope-rats from across the world.
What to do
If you're travelling with the family, there's little to beat a visit to the Tuolumne Meadows. Road access means it's easy to get to by hire car, and the scenery is stunning. Expect lush grasslands, forests, rivers, bubbling creeks and a backdrop of snow-capped mountains.
However, if you'd rather get there under your own steam, there are plenty of hiking trails available, passing small lakes and picture-perfect grasslands along the way. There's a shuttle service operated by Yosemite National Park for those without their own transport.
To really put things in perspective, make for the Mariposa Grove. This is the largest of three groves that act as home to the famous giant sequoias or California Redwood trees. Until you've seen them, it's hard to comprehend just how huge these trees are.
Each is over 500 years old and, if you want to feel insignificant for a moment, stand next to the Fallen Monarch. An ancient giant sequoia that fell, centuries ago, its trunk measures a staggering 90 feet in circumference.
You'll also have the opportunity to walk through the California Tunnel Tree, which has been hollowed out for visitors to explore.
Tips for first timers
Many visitors aren't aware that Yosemite National Park is open 24 hours a day. To leave the crowds behind and feel like you've got the whole park to yourself, plan your visit at dawn or dusk. These also happen to be the times when you'll see the most wildlife.
Yosemite National Park houses a huge variety of wildlife, including deer, bears, bobcats and coyotes. Don't be tempted to approach any animals you see; they are wild and, as far as they're concerned, you're in their home. Stick to the paths and if you are planning night hikes, make sure you have a can of bear repellent in your pack.
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