We have Abraham Lincoln, our 16th president, and John Muir, an early conservationist and founder of the Sierra Club, to thank for setting aside, in 1864, 1,200 stunning square miles of wild grandeur, Yosemite National Park, right in the middle of California! The park offers Half Dome, a towering granite peak that sits 8,800 feet above sea level; the Mariposa Grove of giant sequoias (the Grizzly Giant is 2,700 years old); and the stunning Yosemite Valley, the most popular area in the park. To learn more about Yosemite, click here.
While you're there
Sign up children 7 to 13 for the Junior Ranger Program, which allows kids to earn the official Junior Ranger badge by completing an activity book ($3.50 plus tax), attending a one-hour Junior Ranger Walk, and picking up a bagful of litter to help keep the park clean. Junior Ranger walks are held daily during the summer. There's also a two-hour guided adventure walk, where family members join together to figure out riddles and puzzles while exploring the history of the park. There's a fun Little Cub program for 3- to 6-year-olds, too.
Where to stay
Check into the laid-back Wawona (rooms start at around $150 a night), a Victorian-era National Historic Landmark nestled under the pines and aspens four miles from the park's south entrance. The family-friendly lodge (warning: there are no TVs) also has a golf course, horse stables, and a swimming pool and offers a complimentary continental breakfast.
* All hotel prices are approximate.
Check out Experience Your Yosemite, the National Park Service's free, 15-minute-long orientation video, available online, before your trip. You'll know the ins and outs of this High Sierra destination when you're done—and the gorgeous footage will have everyone raring to go.
If you like this destination, and are interested in a variety of other travel spots, feel free to visit the following websites:
You will find travel information for a number of agencies including Bureau of Land Management, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Army Corps, U.S. Fish & Wildlife, National Park Service, and Bureau of Reclamation.