Best Road Trip Destinations: Yosemite
Yosemite National Park spans 747,956 square miles in central eastern California. Covering a diverse terrain – from the Sierra Nevada Mountains to Yosemite Valley, elevations range from 2,127 to 13,114 feet above sea level – the park is home to a wide variety of plants and animals. Over 3.7 million people visit Yosemite every year and most people stay in the seven square miles of Yosemite Valley. If beautiful landscapes, hiking, camping, and animal-watching are your thing, Yosemite might be one of the best road trip destinations for you.
What You’ll See
Yosemite is internationally recognized for its granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams, Giant Sequoia trees, and incredible biological diversity. You’ll see mountain ranges, canyons, wetlands, meadows, and an extensive network of lakes. If there is a terrain you’re looking for, you can likely find it.
Where to Stop
Tunnel View is the first view of Yosemite Valley for many visitors and is a must-see. If you’re a rock-climber, you’ll want to make sure stopping at El Capitan, a granite cliff that looms over the valley, is on your to-do list. The cliff is one of the most popular rock climbing destinations in the world due to its diverse climbing routes and year-round accessibility.
The Sierra Crest and Pacific Crest Trails run through the valley, for those interested in a hike. Mount Lyell is the highest point in the park, and the Lyell Glacier is one of the only remaining and the largest glacier in the park.
Mariposa Grove, the largest grove in the park, has 200 Giant Sequoia trees. These trees are truly a sight to behold, as they are one of the longest-lived, tallest, and widest trees in the world. Prepare to feel tiny!
Yosemite was integral to the development of the U.S. national park system. Galen Clark among others lobbied to protect Yosemite Valley from development, which eventually led to President Abraham Lincoln signing the Yosemite Grant in 1864. Later, John Muir led a movement to establish a larger national park to include not only the valley, but the surrounding mountains and forests as well. This became the very beginning of the national park system as we know it today.
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