California's High Sierra Mountains were the legendary destinations for countless gold miners, settlers, and wilderness outfitters during the early part of the century. At that point, they represented the true rugged beauty of America's untamed frontier. Now many wilderness areas in and around these mountains have been preserved as state and national parks, including Yosemite National Park. They no longer draw gold miners, but thousands of visitors come here every year to follow in the footsteps of those early settlers and explore the area's unforgettable mountain trails, scenic vistas, and breathtaking waterfalls.
If you're planning a visit to the Yosemite area, consider staying in a vacation rental. A winter condo or summer lakeside cabin is often less expensive than a hotel and can allow you to truly escape from the bustle of everyday life. In the morning, wake up in your cabin and watch the sun rise over the lake. Then enjoy coffee and breakfast in your own kitchen as you plan the day's adventures. While you are here, go hiking, rock climbing, or mountain biking, spot elusive species of wildlife and birds, and explore the mountains on a snowmobile or cross country skis.
Here are a few additional suggestions for your trip:
-Take dog sledding lesson: Take a lesson or watch an exciting race.
-Go wildlife spotting and bird watching: Some rare mountain species along these trails include black bear, mountain lions, bald eagles, and river otters.
-See the geysers and hot springs: In addition to the legendary Old Faithful, this area is known for mineral springs and bubbling paint pots.
-Take a balloon ride: You haven't really seen the High Sierra Mountains until you've seen them from hundreds of feet above on a quiet majestic balloon ride.
- Horseback riding: There are many well-maintained stables throughout the Yosemite area that offer lessons and guided trail rides through the wilderness.
-Go skiing: In the wintertime, the back country trails are covered in a blanket of pristine snow, perfect for snowshoeing and cross country skiing.
In the wintertime, the mountains of Yosemite are covered in snow and when spring returns, the hills and meadows bloom with wildflowers. During the fall, the leaves burst into red and gold, while the summer is a perfect time for lakeside fishing and spending a night under the stars. You'll have a great time in the Yosemite area no matter what time of year you visit. While you're here, consider exploring the Rocky Mountains and Colorado ski country.
As featured in USA TODAY and recommended by Travel + Leisure in its annual Villa Guide:
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