Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, CA
Sure it gets crowded at times, but the eight-mile hike to the top of Yosemite’s Half Dome is a sampling of everything that’s great about California’s most famous national park. After gaping up at daredevil cliffhangers on El Capitan, climb out of Yosemite Valley until you top treeline and are surrounded by Ansel Adams views of Vernal Falls and that iconic glacially sculpted skyline. And while you will almost certainly be sharing the trail with school kids and tourists in questionable footwear, you’ll only be sharing the summit with those who can handle the 16-mile 10-hour round trip, and 4,800 feet of elevation gain — not to mention the final 400-foot cable ladder affixed to the super-steep granite slab that delivers you to the Dome’s 8,800-foot summit.
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