In Yosemite, nature rules – we’re just along for the ride. In fact, 95 per cent of this national park is wilderness waiting to be explored. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it sprawls more than 3,000 square kilometres across the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Tourists flock here to see the cascading waterfalls, jutting granite cliffs and groves of ancient sequoias. Be sure to stop by Tunnel View, a jaw-dropping vista showcasing Apple screensaver-favourite El Capitan and drive up to Glacier Point for more spectacular views.
Yosemite’s park rangers are famously friendly and remarkably knowledgeable. Surrounded by California’s wildest of wilds, enjoy evening lectures covering everything from astronomy to wildlife, arranged by the National Park Service. A roaring campfire, a star-mottled sky and your own expert guide – is there a cooler classroom anywhere in the world?
Visit in February and you may be lucky enough to catch the natural ‘Firefall’, when the waters of Horsetail Fall burn golden as the sun sets. Head here in April for gushing waterfalls, fewer tourists, pleasant weather and waived fees during National Parks Week.
Situated just outside Yosemite, Tenaya Lodge is a 302-room property decorated with Native American flourishes throughout. It’s an ideal base for the family to relax before and after heading out to explore the great outdoors on a California holiday.
Famously sunny for 360 days of the year, Palm Springs is a popular vacation resort situated in the arid Coachella Valley. During your California adventure holiday, drag yourself away from the indulgent spa treatments, pool-side cocktails and world-class golf courses here for a spot of outdoor adventure.
This luxury oasis in the desert offers easy access to the San Andreas Fault. This spine of dramatic mountains and valleys works its way 1,200 kilometres through California. Take a guided jeep tour around the slot canyons. Photograph this rugged natural wonder (be sure to keep your camera covered as it can get a little dusty). Your expert guide will explain the geology of the landscape, as well as the native flora and fauna that manages to thrive despite the inhospitable conditions.
Drive out from Palm Springs to Joshua Tree National Park to experience more of California’s great outdoors. Less of a tourist trap than some of the state’s other national parks, much of Joshua Tree’s sprawling, yucca-spotted landscape is designated wilderness. It’s begging to be discovered, clambered over and even climbed up. Thrill-seekers can experience a guided rock climb with experts who know the lay of the land like the back of their hand.
In the heart of Palm Springs’ downtown, rest up after a busy day of adventuring at the Avalon Hotel. The deluxe rooms and private villas of this property epitomise Hollywood Regency style. The pools, manicured gardens and full-service spa ensure you’re well recuperated ahead of your next adventure out.