If you are looking at North America holidays this year, then you really should consider going on a tour of California, taking in as many national parks as possible during your stay.
Why not start off at the Yosemite National Park, one of the first of its kind to spring up in the US? While it is perhaps best known for its waterfalls, there are many other attractions here, such as majestic meadows, deep valleys and ancient giant sequoias, all within around 1,200 square miles.
Once there, you will find that you can see the park on foot or by bike, take a bus tour or travel along with a park ranger for a while, learning all about the reserve.
It could also be fun to book a guided mule ride, or a pack and saddle trip, while on California tours. There are several bridle paths in the Yosemite that you could enjoy travelling down.
You can additionally go rock climbing here, as the park is acknowledged to be one of the greatest areas for climbing in the world. There are many challenges facing both novice and proficient climbers, such as the crack climbs in the Merced River Canyon and the aid climbs on the valley’s big walls, as well as the domes in the Tuolumne Meadows.
And don’t forget to try out a few water activities while enjoying USA national park holidays.
You can go rafting down the Merced River, as well as swimming and fishing, although you will need a valid California fishing licence to engage in this latter pastime. If you have one, you’ll find that you can catch brown trout in the rivers, although rainbow trout is for catch and release only.
Once you’ve included Yosemite in your plans for small group travel around California, you should then consider heading to the Zion National Park, home to some unique sandstone cliffs that range in colour from red to pink and cream.
Keep your eyes peeled for some of the amazing freestanding arches in the area, most notably the Kolob and Crawford arches. The latter is the most visible and clings to the bottom of Bridge Mountain, 1,000 feet from the floor of the canyon. It was named after the Crawford family, some of the first Mormon settlers in the canyon.
The Kolob Arch is also worth a look, although you will find it a bit of a challenge to reach as it is very remote and relatively inaccessible. Heading in the direction of the arch, however, will be particularly rewarding and you will come across some of the most beautiful scenery in the park, taking in La Verkin Creek and Kolob Terrace.
If you’re a nature lover, then you won’t be disappointed by a trip to the Zion National Park. You will be able to spot the California condor, the Peregrine falcon and the bald eagle here, as well as any other of the 288 species of bird found in the park.
For a somewhat different experience, head to some of the Redwood National and State Parks in California – including Del Norte Coast, the Jedediah Smith and the Prairie Creek State Parks. They are all home to some of the most majestic forests in the world, where sea anemones, black bears, Douglas-firs, grey whales and banana slugs can all be found among the redwoods.
While here, you can explore Crescent Beach Overlook and Enderts Beach, with amazing views of the Pacific Ocean, or drive on down to Klamath River Overlook, which is one of the best spots to see the grey whale migration.
You might also enjoy a day trip to Fern Canyon, home to 30-foot walls covered with ferns and other flora. Some of the ferns that can be found here are in fact ancient species, the ancestry of which can be dated back 325 million years.
Furthermore, you can try a spot of camping while in the Redwood parks, with three sites in the forest and one found on the coast. Jedediah Smith could be a good choice – it can be found in an old-growth redwood grove near the Smith River, with hot showers, fire pits, barbeques and accessible toilets. From here, you will be able to go hiking, swimming and fishing.