Yosemite National Park, Yosemite, CA
Total Acres: 748,000
Number of Family-Friendly Trails: Three (all are stroller-accessible).
Best Time to Visit: June, when average high temperatures climb into the low 80s and monthly rainfall is minimal.
- Hosts storytelling programs about Native American culture and river ecology for families at the nearly century-old stone LeConte Memorial Building.
- Offers daily Junior Ranger programs for children 7 to 12; highlights include geology, animal tracking, and bird identification (to spot species such as the water ousel, whose legs bend backward).
- Schedules children's snowboarding, cross-country skiing, and downhill skiing classes from November through March.
- Operates the Nature Center at Happy Isles, which features puppet shows, movies, and wildlife exhibits appropriate for children.
- Provides a free hourlong hands-on workshop where children 7 to 12 can learn important pointers on taking wildlife pictures from a professional photographer.
You can sum up the landscape at Yosemite in one word: enchanting. The park boasts several glorious waterfalls, including the tallest in the U.S., Yosemite Falls, which drops more than 2,400 feet to a rocky crevasse. Towering overhead are groves of giant sequoias. They dwarf the low-lying meadows that overflow with 1,400 species of flowering plants."So that families can enjoy the sheer beauty and wildness of Yosemite, it was very important to us to create several short, paved nature trails," points out David Mihalic, park superintendent. "The trails start next to the camping areas and lodges and run past scenic points of interest such as waterfalls and lakes."
Besides taking in the amazing view, 3- to 6-year-olds can join the Little Cubs program, which teaches them to identify common plants and insects. And the whole family will appreciate the fantastic opportunities for canoeing, fishing, horseback-riding, and rafting.
Contact: 209-372-0200; www.nps.gov/yose.
Entrance fee: $20 per vehicle for a seven-day pass.