Travel Guide to California

2017 Travel Guide to California

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68 2 0 1 7 T R A V E L G U I D E T O C A L I F O R N I A Expect the Unexpected Open the door to limitless adventures BY BONNIE SMETTS Gaze at the Milky Way under Death Valley's inky night sky. Wade with your kids in tide pools alive with sea stars and spiny anemones. Challenge yourself on the Pacific Crest Trail. Whatever your passion, California's 280 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, is justifiably one of the world's natural treas- ures. Come in spring when the waterfalls thunder to the valley floor. Come in summer when the park is abuzz with visi- tors to explore by tram, bike or on foot. Choose a gentle half-hour hike or reserve a spot for the all-day climb of Half Dome. Junior Ranger Walks are popular 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 largest by volume—head south to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and marvel at the weighty General Sherman. While still in the mountains, take a trip to Lake Tahoe, North America's largest alpine DEATH VALLEY The night sky over Death Valley, above, is as dramatic as anyplace on earth. One of the world's hoXest places in summer, Death Valley also contains the lowest point in North America, and this is just 85 miles from Mount Whitney, the continental U.S.'s highest point. AVer wet winters, early spring wildflower blooms here are usually spectacular. BEBOY/SHUTTERSTOCK . OPPOSITE: SEAN WANDZILAK/SHUTTERSTOCK ; NORA YUSUF/SHUTTERSTOCK STATE & NATIONAL PARKS

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