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Hiking in National Parks

Written by: Megan Watts



Time to read 5 min

Welcome to the breathtaking beauty of Yosemite National Park, nestled in Northern California. Renowned for its majestic peaks, sprawling meadows, and iconic climbing spots, Yosemite stands as a testament to the awe-inspiring wonders of nature. As you embark on your journey through this remarkable park, prepare to be captivated by its unparalleled scenery and unforgettable hiking trails.

From the serene tranquility of Dog Lake to the panoramic vistas atop Lemberts Dome, Yosemite offers a wealth of outdoor adventures for every explorer. Whether you're seeking a leisurely stroll or a challenging climb, Yosemite's diverse landscapes promise to inspire and amaze. But Yosemite is just the beginning of our journey. Explore the wonders of Yellowstone National Park, with its geothermal wonders and majestic peaks spanning three states. Then venture into the ancient mountains of Great Smoky Mountain National Park, where the trails are as rich in history as they are in natural beauty.

Armed with a wealth of information, it's time to embark on your own adventure and discover the wonders of our planet. And if you ever need guidance or gear for your journey, don't hesitate to visit Mountain High Outfitters, where our experienced associates are ready to assist you every step of the way. So pack your bags, lace up your boots, and let the adventure begin!

Yosemite National Park

Located in Northern California, Yosemite National Park is hands down one of the most beautiful national parks I have ever visited in the United States. With its fantastic peaks, beautiful mixture of meadows and mountains, world renowned climbing spots, and so many amazing, famous hikes, it, like almost every other national park, is unmatched in its beauty. I thought I’d share some of my favorite hiking spots spots if you want to explore Yosemite.

#1 Dog Lake
Distance: 2.8 miles (round trip)
Elevation Gain: 750 feet
While there’s nothing about the lake that overtly screams “dog”, it’s a simple hike that leads to a beautiful hidden lake tucked away in the mountains. If you’re traveling with kids that “refuse” to be carried, this is a great hike for you. And here’s a tip from someone who learned the hard way, hike in boots or closed toed shoes. Teva’s Flatform Universal sandals are definitely the move when you wanna look cute, but not the move for this hike. Let’s just say there are quite a few feet washing stations located throughout Yosemite National Park for a reason.

#2 Lemberts Dome
Distance: 2.8 miles (round trip)
Elevation Gain: 900 feet
Why hike Lemberts Dome instead of hiking to the top of Half Dome? Well first of all, you don’t need a permit to get to the summit. Second, it boasts some of the most spectacular views IN THE PARK! With 360° views, it’s unmatched. There’s two ways to get to the top, 1. You can take the hiking trail, 2. You can climb. Trust me when I say, it’s worth whichever option you decide to do.

Yellowstone National Park

This expansive park spans over three states-Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho-and is our nation’s first national park! Yup! Established in 1872, Yellowstone marked the first of many historical acts to preserve some of our nation’s most treasured lands. With valleys, river, canyons, hot springs, colorful basins, and so much more, there’s not a single day you’ll spend in this park where you'll be bored.

#1 Dunraven Pass - Mount Washburn
Distance: 6.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 1400 feet
The trail of up to the start of the hike is closed right now due to road issues, but let me tell you, when they open back up and you get the chance to peak this incredible mountain, it’s one heck of a hike. This one may be something the kiddos should sit out if they get worn out easily, but if you take breaks and take your time, you can accomplish this hike in 3-6 hours. No matter how long it takes, it’s definitely an all day activity, but the view from the top is worth it.

#2 Upper Geyser Basin Trail (Loop)
Distance: 3 miles
Elevation Gain: 50 feet
Take this hike to check out the highest concentration of geysers in the WORLD! For most of the hydrothermal pool hikes, Yellowstone National Park has created these super cool boardwalks that weave you in and out of the diamond, ruby, sapphire, and many more colored pools that are located in the park. Remember to tell the kids that Yellowstone is located on top of one of the largest volcanoes in the world! Which is why you’ll see so many geysers and basins, cause all that heat has got to go somewhere…

Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Did you think we wouldn’t include this park? Of course we would! I mean it is a spectacular park and deserves a bit of attention. If you’ve visited a number of national parks across the country, you wouldn’t be surprised that most parks require an entrance fee. Not GSM, they’re free and, as of right now, they intend to stay strictly donation based. Known by the Cherokee as “Shaconage”, or “The Land of Blue smoke, it has some of the oldest mountains in the world, is the most visited park, and boasts more than 800 miles of hiking trails. My favorite fact about GSM is that it’s the Salamander Capital of the World! So keep an eye out when you’re traversing the almost 3,000 miles of streams, you might find a slimy friend hiding in the mud. FYI, don't move the stones! Salamanders lay their eggs under there!

#1 Cades Cove Loop
Distance: 10.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 734 feet
I have personally hiked, biked, and driven this loop MANY times. It’s worth it. It’s so much fun and can be worth the exhaustion it brings. Kid friendly, bike friendly, all kinds of friendly, take this loop and have a blast.

#2 Clingmans Dome
Distance: 1 mile (round trip)
Elevation Gain: 332 feet
Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the entire park. Breathtaking views are the reason you want to get to the top. The entire trail is paved which makes it stroller friendly! Take in the sunrise at this spot and be blown away. You won’t regret it. Trust me.

In conclusion, Yosemite National Park stands as a testament to the unparalleled beauty of nature. From its majestic peaks to its serene lakes and world-renowned hiking trails, Yosemite offers an unforgettable experience for adventurers of all kinds. Whether you're exploring the hidden gem of Dog Lake or taking in the breathtaking views from Lemberts Dome, Yosemite captivates with its natural wonders. As you embark on your journey through this incredible park and others like Yellowstone and Great Smoky Mountains, remember to tread lightly and leave no trace, preserving these treasures for future generations to enjoy. If you're in need of gear or advice for your outdoor adventures, don't hesitate to visit Mountain High Outfitters, where our experienced associates are ready to help you make the most of your trip. Let's continue to explore and cherish the wonders of our planet together! If you have any more questions or want to chat a little bit more about your adventures, stop by Mountain High Outfitters and talk to our experienced associates to find out their advice for you! Plus, you can snag all the important gear you need for your trip!