sierra nevada mountains

Sierra Nevada Mountains Featured Destination:

Yosemite National Park
Yosemite, California

Most trips are to places with superlatives. These are places with "the oldest," "the biggest" or "the longest," in front of them. You visit them to be impressed. In Yosemite National Park, you'll find the tallest waterfall in North America and you are guaranteed to be impressed.

Yosemite Falls is a 2,435-foot gushing wonder and a symbol of how water, whether frozen or melted, has shaped this valley in the shadow of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. You can feel the sheer power of water just by standing at the base of the falls, where the earth literally rumbles under your feet.

The park's stunning water features decorate a beautifully diverse habitat filled with 400 species of animals and birds, including an acorn-hoarding woodpecker and its nemesis the gray squirrel. These North America stars are among the park's most common critters, so spotting them shouldn't be hard. Just look to the oak trees in the park's foothill-woodland zone or the lower montane forest, also home to Yosemite's giant sequoias.

Best Time to Visit:

You'll find fewer crowds mid-April through Memorial Day and the spring happens to be the perfect season for water falls. Smaller falls cascade along the Valley rim and larger falls are at their peak.

What to Do:

Experience Yosemite through the words of one of America's first naturalists, John Muir, and its best nature photographer Ansel Adams. Muir worked as a shepherd in Yosemite, lived in a cabin in the High Sierra and lobbied President Theodore Roosevelt to create Yosemite National Park. You can see a one-man show about Muir at the Yosemite Valley auditorium near the park visitor center and go on tours with a guide and Muir actor. Ansel Adams was just as inspired by Yosemite, making the park's landscape the star of many of his black and white photos. The Ansel Adams Gallery leads multi-day photography workshops in the park and half-day classes following in Adams' footsteps. Get Directions

Other Sierra Nevada Mountains Destinations:

  • Lake Tahoe. The largest alpine lake in North America and second-deepest in the United States (tenth deepest in the world), Lake Tahoe serves as a popular area for watersports, downhill skiing, hiking and bicycling. Get Directions
  • Kings Canyon National Park . Kings Canyon is one of several canyons in the park, with features including spectacular meadows, waterfalls, and cliffs. One of the most popular attractions in the park is the General Grant tree, an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 year old sequoia ranked as the third largest tree in the world. Get Directions
  • Sequoia National Park. Amongst the giant sequoias in the park, the General Sherman Tree is the largest tree in the world at slightly over 52,500 cubic feet. Beyond traversing its forest of giant trees, Sequoia National Park offers nature lovers the chance to explore caves, view a wide array of wildlife, and discover the majesty of its mountains. Get Directions
  • Mt. Whitney. The tallest mountain in the "lower 48" states, Mt. Whitney is the most frequently climbed peak in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. In order to climb it, all hikers must obtain a permit from the Forest Service. Get Directions
  • Donner Memorial State Park. The park takes its name from the ill-fated Donner Party, whose infamous tragedy on the trail west in April 1846 occurred here, in the High Sierra. The park offers several hikes, including the Nature Trail, highlighting the park's flora and fauna, as well as the Lakeshore Interpretive Trail, offering a history of the Emigrant Trail as well as the area's cultural and geological history. Get Directions

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