Few places will inspire natural wonder in the kids like Yosemite National Park—after all, this California spot sparked America’s entire national park idea. When Teddy Roosevelt first came here, he summed his visit up like this: “It was like lying in a great solemn cathedral, far vaster and more beautiful than any built by the hand of man.”
Though I might be biased—Yosemite was my first national park, and it inspired a decades’ long obsession—I fervently believe it’s nearly impossible not to agree with Roosevelt’s sentiment, no matter who you are (or what your age). With three days to explore, you’ll soon see why. Here’s what’s in store for you and your family.
Know your elevation (it may change!) and dress appropriately.
If you only have time for one thing, make it hiking one of the trails in Yosemite Valley.
On day two, rise and shine early to see the valley before the crowds arrive. If you’ve got older kids, now’s a good time to hike to Vernal and Nevada Falls or hit the short-but-difficult trail to Artists Point. You might even catch a black bear, bighorn sheep, or mule deer getting their breakfast on.
Afterward, head to the Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center to see the Sierra Nevada Range’s largest high-elevation meadows. You can picnic on the Tuolumne River, hike Lyell Canyon via the John Muir Trail (it’s mostly flat), see Soda Springs, climb up Lembert Dome, or catch a ranger talk at the visitor center.