When you live in a state as beautiful as California – especially Northern California – sometimes you forget that the beauty we are surrounded by daily is somebody else’s “view of a lifetime.” This is especially true when it comes to Yosemite. We carry on our everyday lives, aware, but not really fully conscious of the fact that one of the most breathtaking natural wonders in the entire world is right in our backyard. This national park to visit in Northern California is a dream come true for so many, but here we are, taking it for granted.

If you grew up in California, you probably spent time in school learning about the history and the geology of Yosemite National Park. We’ve all seen the iconic Ansel Adams photos of El Capitan. Maybe you were lucky enough to take a field trip here.

Maybe you took a family vacation here. If your family is anything like mine, this meant you piled into the back seat with your siblings and complained loudly about the heat, the lack of acceptable snacks, or the fact that your brother poked you when Mom wasn’t looking. When you tumbled out of the car, you moaned about all of the tourists blocking your view, or that your thighs were burning as you marched up the steep switchbacks to the top of Yosemite Falls. At the top, Mom made you pose for pictures with Dad. You cracked a joke that his bald head was the “Whole Dome” to complement Half Dome in the distance. He scooped you up and threatened to toss you over the edge. You flailed and squealed for Mom as he laughed and swung you back to solid ground. You gave him the silent treatment for about 20 minutes until you needed the lifesaving water bottle stashed in his backpack. What, too specific? Just us?

Fine, but don’t take this place for granted. People travel from around the world to experience a place that we all too often shrug off as “oh yeah, I’ve been there.” This place is magical. If you are standing at the edge of these ancient cliffs, thousands of feet above the valley floor, and you aren’t pondering your very existence within the universe, you aren’t looking hard enough. Maybe this incredible video of the harrowing hike up Half Dome, shared on YouTube by Amazing Places on Our Planet, will inspire you:

I went back to Yosemite National Park recently. I must have hit the sweet spot for travelling, right before the summer hoards unloaded from the tour busses and swarmed the trails. We rented bikes and took off down the path to Mirror Lake. At one point, I tore my eyes away from the great granite cliffs towering around me long enough to realize a coyote was running through the fields beside me, playfully keeping pace with me as a peddled along. Her pups joined in a few minutes later, keeping a safe distance, but obviously enjoying the adventure as well. I live here, I thought. This is real life.

What a wonderful world we have. Never forget this. This incredible national park to visit in Northern California is all ours, and it’s among the most amazing places in the world.

To see more breathtaking footage like this, check out the Amazing Places on Our Planet YouTube channel. You will find hundreds of other incredible videos showing off the best our beautiful planet has to offer!

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National Park To Visit In Northern California

What are some of the best things to do outside in Northern California?  

Northern California is a paradise for just about everyone. It’s filled with surreal beauty that’s so captivating that sometimes the whole area just doesn’t feel real. Towering Redwood and Sequoia trees flourish up here, and there aren’t a lot of places on the planet that are like the forests of them we have in NorCal. The state and national parks up here are also to die for; NorCal is home to some of the nation’s most beloved parks, like Yosemite National Park and Golden Gate Park. Fall in love with the ocean by visiting Carmel By The Sea, or take a scenic drive up Highway 1 to Oregon, making sure to stop and soak in some of these amazing places along the way. Head to a zoo, or enjoy a hike. Northern California is also wonderful for biking, mountain climbing, and world-class camping. How lucky are we to have such a beautiful place so close to our own backyards?  

What are the most popular hiking trails in Northern California?  

We are so glad you asked; we here at Only In Your State just so happen to be totally obsessed with Northern California’s hundreds of miles of amazing hiking trails. Some of our favorites include the 2.5-mile, strenuous hike to the summit of Lassen Peak, in Shasta County. The views up there are absolutely incredible; you cannot afford to miss that one. Other amazing, must-see hikes include the Bumpass Hell Trail at Lassen Volcanic National Park, the Stout Grove Trail (an incredible hike through the world’s most scenic stand of Redwoods, and so many more. Northern California is the perfect destination (or place to live) for every lover of the outdoors. Its unrivaled beauty makes it one of the most popular destinations in the United States for tourism, too, and we’re not at all surprised. For more information about some of the above-mentioned hikes, check this article full of the best hikes in NorCal out.  

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