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5 California Road Trip Ideas

        Adventure | Road Trips

2
Yosemite National Park
The Merced River meets Yosemite National Park in Mariposa County, Calif.
The Merced River meets Yosemite National Park in Mariposa County, Calif.
Medioimages/Photodisc/Getty Images

Yosemite National Park, only a four-hour drive from San Francisco, is arguably the most beautiful park in America. Carved over millennia by expanding and receding glaciers, its towering granite cliffs and gushing waterfalls are not only ridiculously gorgeous, but easily accessible by car or on foot. You can reach some of the park's most stunning attractions by a 20-minute walk from your car, including the mist-spewing Bridalveil Fall and the majestic sequoias of Mariposa Grove.

More serious hikers and climbers can choose from a staggering array of trail options. One of the most popular hikes is the Mist Trail past Vernal Falls that ascends to the roaring cascade of Nevada Falls. One of the more strenuous but famous climbs is to the top of Half Dome, the smooth, colossal rock that stands guard over Yosemite Valley below.

To get the most out of Yosemite, reserve a room at one of the park's lodges or campsites well in advance of your trip (the summer months are wildly popular), and get an early jump on the day. There is so much to see and do here, and you'll want to make the most of it.

We finish our road trip tour in the shadows of giants.


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