Yosemite is one of America's favourite national parks for good reason. It's vast, it's varied and it has more ways to satisfy a family that loves the great outdoors than you can shake a pine branch at.

Yosemite Valley is where you'll fnd many of the park's most beloved sights. Bring a picnic blanket and binoculars to the base of El Capitan to spot rock climbers scaling the massive granite face. At night, their tiny headlamps fash across the rock as they bed down on cots suspended in the air. At the opposite end of the valley is Half Dome. The 8.5mi/14km trek to the top is best attempted only by the ultra-ft, but a blessedly fat alternative is the hike to Mirror lake for a vantage point directly underneath the dome.

At the bike stand at Yosemite lodge near Yosemite Falls, rent bikes for a relaxing ride through the meadows, or, in the summer months, rent a raft at the Curry Village recreation Center to foat down the Merced river. Two other valley must-dos: view photos at the Ansel Adams Gallery and have breakfast at the landmark 1927 Ahwah-nee Hotel. In fact, the Ahwahnee provides the best reason to get dressed up in Yosemite Valley. The Ahwahnee Bar in the famed hotel has live music performances on most Friday and Saturday nights.

Beyond the Valley
On the hour-long drive to Wawona and the southern section of the park, you'll pass the turnoff for Badger Pass, a small ski area with a 1950s-era atmosphere.

The Wawona Hotel hosts Saturday evening outdoor barbecues on the lawn in summer, a great stopover after taking the tram ride through the Mariposa Grove of giant sequoias.

Large, grassy Tuolumne Meadows, at an elevation of 8,775ft/2,675m, is about an hour north of the valley. In summer or autumn, climb one of the two nearby granite domes for the best view: Pothole Dome on the meadow's western edge is a summer shuttle-bus ride away; lem-bert Dome on the eastern edge involves a three-hour journey. On your way back to the valley, Tioga lake is a prime spot for sunning and wading.

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