Yosemite National Park
By Elisa Hutsell
Among the rolling hills and rocky mountains of California is one of America’s best preserved natural gems. Designated in 1984 as a World Heritage Site—a landmark which has been officially recognized by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization—Yosemite has been considered one of the most beautiful places in the world.
Previously inhabited by the Ahwahneechee people, Yosemite has had visitors from across the globe, bringing in more than four million visitors each year, making it the third-most visited national park. With camping in Yosemite Valley, hundreds of miles of hiking trails, lakes, waterfalls and rock formations throughout the park, it’s no wonder this travel destination is one that you’ll have to visit over and over again. And you can’t miss two of the most iconic landmarks of Yosemite—being Half Dome and El Capitan, both popular spots for amatuer and pro rock climbers.
Ostrander Ski Hut
If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the new year, take a trip to the Ostrander Ski Hut when the snow is falling for a rustic and serene change in scenery. The hike is not for the faint of heart, and Ostrander isn’t considered isolated for just any reason: it’s a 10-mile jaunt from the Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area on the way up to Glacier Point. It’s a great spot for backcountry skiers and snowboarders seeking steep slopes and a good time with views that aren’t anything short of amazing and will take your winter-chilled breath away.
If high-slopes adventure isn’t quite your cup of tea, there are always guided events in Yosemite including bird-watching tours, photography workshops, day hikes, and guided tours with expert naturalists from the area. Being on one of these tours benefits the Outdoor Adventures program with all proceeds going to protect and preserve Yosemite Park. That’s right—all 1,200 square miles of it.
For more information, and to see when roads are closed in the winter, visit www.nps.gov/yosemite.