If you enjoy the great outdoors, then a trip to Central California has to be on your list.
On my recent excursion to the area, I enjoyed stops at Yosemite National Park, Lake Tahoe and Mammoth Lakes. The scenery is absolutely stunning, and there are activities for people of all ages that allow you to experience nature at its finest.
Lake Tahoe and Mammoth Lakes: Awesome in Summer and Winter
Lake Tahoe, a world-class ski town during winter, transforms into summer holiday paradise. I went bike riding on one of the many tracks along the shore; it was a great way to get a feel for the place. Boating, hiking, fishing or just soaking up the sun are some of the many activities you can try. There are plenty of restaurants and bars, all with a great holiday atmosphere. Head up to Emerald Bay Lookout for a postcard-perfect photo opportunity.
Like Lake Tahoe, Mammoth Lakes is a world-class ski resort in winter; during summer, it offers all types of great outdoor activities. From Yosemite, get there via the Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System service offered mid-May through mid-September.
Yosemite National Park: Nature at its Best
With 2,000km2 of wilderness, Yosemite gives you a chance to become immersed in nature at its best. If you want to go camping, reservations are needed. The extra planning is worth it to fully surround yourself in this incredible landscape. If camping isn’t an option for you, it is possible to make a day trip of the park with some amazing lookouts along the way; "The Tunnel View" is one of them.
One of the highlights for me was Mariposa Grove, which is home to the giant sequoia trees, some growing up to 70 meters tall; the oldest "Grizzly Giant" is believed to be over 2,000 years old. Arriving at the car park, it was about a 3km round-trip to see them all. It’s difficult to describe how big the trees are; it’s definitely other-worldly and something you’ll want to experience.
The Hauntingly Beautiful Mono Lake
To the east of Yosemite is Mono Lake. At over 1 million years old, it is known for its migratory bird life and tufa porous rock formations. The calcium carbonate spires formed due to the alkalinity of the water and fresh water springs. On my kayaking tour, the tufas, the stillness of the lake and the snow-capped surrounding mountains made it a serene experience.
Serene to Extreme Gold Country Whitewater Rafting
If you’re a fan of whitewater rafting, or want to give it a go, then head to Gold Country. I did a half-day trip. Apart from being an exhilarating experience – albeit a very wet one – it really does give you the sense of getting away from it all. There are plenty of companies offering trips ranging from a half-day to four days or more, catering for all skill levels and ages.
If you are travelling to California and you need to get an outdoor fix, head to Central California. You will not be disappointed.