Yosemite National Park, created in 1890, is one of the oldest nature preserves in the United States. A wonderland of geological formations and biological diversity, the park spans nearly 1,200 square miles on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada range in central eastern California. More than 3 million visitors each year flock to see Yosemite’s grandeur. It was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.
“A noble sheet of blue water,” Mark Twain wrote of Lake Tahoe in 1871, “As it lay there with the shadows of the mountains brilliantly photographed upon its still surface, I thought it must surely be the fairest picture the whole earth affords.”
Shimmering in myriad shades of blue and green, Lake Tahoe is the USA’s second-deepest lake and, at 6255ft high, it is also one of the highest-elevation lakes in the country.
Located next to Sequoia National Park, Kings Canyon Park is composed of two distinct areas – Grant Grove (home to the General Grant tree, also known as "the Nation's Christmas Tree") and Cedar Grove. Grant Grove visitors snap photos and marvel at the sheer size of the sequoia grove. Kings Canyon is also home to Redwood Canyon, the largest remaining grove of sequoia trees in the world.
In addition to Kings Canyon National Park's celebrated sequoias, this glaciated valley also features miles of hiking trails, horseback riding, and camping – a perfect place for outdoor enthusiasts of every age.
The Tahoe National Forest straddles the crest of the Sierra Nevada mountains in northern California, and encompasses a vast territory, from the golden foothills on the western slope to the high peaks of the Sierra crest.
Tahoe National Forest lands range from an elevation of 1,500 feet in the American River canyon on the western edge of the forest to over 9,400 feet on top of Mt. Lola, along the Sierra Crest.
The Tahoe National Forest is renowned for its rugged beauty, outstanding downhill and cross country ski opportunities, historic sites, and exceptionally productive timber lands. The Granite Chief Wilderness Area offers solitude, beauty and wonderful trails.
The Tahoe NF has an incredibly rich historic and prehistoric setting, due to thousands of years of trans-Sierra migration and travel across Donner Pass. Over 200,000 people came through Big Bend on their way to California prior to and during the Gold Rush in the 1840s and 1850s. Rust marks from covered wagon wheels remain visible near the center, and during summer, Visitor Center staff lead walks on the emigrant trail.
Eldorado national forest
One of the most popular spots in the Eldorado National Forest is Desolation Wilderness. Because of its beauty and accessibility, Desolation Wilderness is one of the most heavily-used wilderness areas in the United States. There are no buildings or roads in Desolation Wilderness and the 63,960 acre forest is restricted to hikers, horses and llamas. Bicycles and motorized vehicles are not permitted. Today, Desolation Wilderness is jointly administered by both the Eldorado National Forest and the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit.
In the most Southern part of the Eldorado National forest, another fine hiking area is the 105,165 acre Mokelumne Wilderness which straddles the crest of the central Sierra Nevada. The Mokelumne Wilderness is a rugged landscape of great scenic beauty with volcanic ridges and peaks. The most prominent feature is the rugged Mokelumne River Canyon. Elevations in the Wilderness range from about 3,900 feet to 10,380 feet. Summers here are generally dry and mild, but afternoon thundershowers can occur periodically and nighttime temperatures may dip below freezing any time. Travel is restricted to horseback or foot only .. so this could be quite an adventure!
Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest
The Humboldt-Toiyabe's spectacular 6.3 million acres makes it the largest Forest in the lower 48 states. The Forest spreads from the eastern Sierra Nevada’s in California to the borders of Idaho, and Utah.
The Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest manages 18 designated Wilderness Areas. These Wilderness Areas are as diverse as the Forest itself.
The name “Humboldt” comes from the explorer John C. Freemont. He named the East Humboldt Mountain Range and the Humboldt River after German naturalist Baron Alexander von Humboldt. “Toiyabe” is an ancient Shoshone word meaning “mountain.”
Within its 6.3 million acres, the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest contains an estimated 80,000 to 100,000 prehistoric and historic archaeological sites. The various types of heritage resources range from the enigmatic squiggles and curlicues of prehistoric rock art, to the phenomenal mining towns of the 19th century, to Euro-American emigrant trails and roads.
Stanislaus national forest
Stanislaus National Forest is a United States national forest which manages 898,099 acres (1,403.3 sq mi; 3,634.5 km2) of land in four counties in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Northern California. It was established on February 22, 1897, making it one of the oldest national forests. It was named after the Stanislaus River.
The forest is located primarily in eastern Tuolumne County, adjacent to the northwestern part of Yosemite National Park, but parts of it extend (in descending order of forestland area) into southern Alpine, northern Mariposa, and eastern Calaveras counties. Forest headquarters are located in Sonora, California. There are local ranger district offices in Groveland, Hathaway Pines, Mi-Wuk Village, and Pinecrest.
The Emigrant Wilderness is located entirely within its boundaries. Portions of the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness, including the Dardanelles Cone, and the Mokelumne Wilderness are also within the Stanislaus National Forest.
Sierra national Forest
The Sierra National Forest encompasses 1.3 million acres of terrain which ranges from gently rolling, oak-covered foothills along the edge of the San Joaquin Valley, to the majestic snowcapped peaks of the Sierra Nevada crest. One of the many attractions of the Sierra National Forest is the abundance of recreation opportunities. The Sierra has 11 reservoirs, 528,000 acres of designated wilderness, over 60 campgrounds, two wild and scenic rivers and 1,100 miles of trails. The forest's five designated Wilderness Areas are: Ansel Adams, Dinkey Lake, John Muir, Kaiser and Monarch.