Travel Guide to California

2015 Travel Guide to California

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40 2 0 1 5 T R A V E L G U I D E T O C A L I F O R N I A CA.STATE & NATIONAL PARKS Design Your Escape Rev it up or slow it way down at a California park BY BONNIE SMETTS Hike under the veil of a thundering waterfall. Visit a lighthouse as gray whales frolic off shore. Spend a day snapping close-ups when the desert floor explodes in wildflowers. Whatever your passion, Cali- fornia's 279 state parks and 32 national parks, seashores and monuments—whose mission is to protect the state's natural and cultural treasures—are the gateway to expe- riences as varied as the state's geography. Yosemite & the Sierra Nevada Yosemite National Park, with its glacier- sculpted valley and granite peaks, has something for everyone. Come in spring when the waterfalls thunder to the valley floor. Come in summer when the park is abuzz with visitors to explore by tram, bike or on foot. Choose a gentle half-hour hike or reserve a spot for the all-day climb to Half Dome. Junior Ranger Walks are pop- ular with kids. Backpackers can enjoy the solitude of the park's high country and expert rock climbers have dozens of granite walls to scale. Don't leave the park without stopping at Glacier Point with its views of Half Dome and Yosemite Valley or at the Mariposa Grove of giant sequoias to marvel at its 2,700-year-old Grizzly Giant. To see a really big tree—the world's JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK This renowned park in the Southern California deserts region is famous for its Joshua Trees, above. They got their name from a 19 th -century group of Mormon seXlers who, upon seeing these trees with spiky, upturned branches, were reminded of the Biblical story of Joshua raising his hands in prayer. Joshua Tree National Park has surreal geologic formations and is a popular place for rock climbing. HOLBOX/SHUTTERSTOCK . OPPOSITE: SILKY/SHUTTERSTOCK ; WELCOMIA/SHUTTERSTOCK ; TOM REICHNER/SHUTTERSTOCK

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