For breathtaking mountain views and terrific hiking trails, the Rocky Mountain National Park can’t be beat and with so many entrances, you’ll be sure to find a nice quiet spot all to yourself.
Trail Ridge Road – Starts at the Deer Ridge Junction (US 36 and US 34) on the east side of the park and the Colorado River Trailhead on the western slope. Closed from mid-October to June.
Horseshoe Park – Access is either from the Fall River Entrance or Deer Ridge Junction.
Moraine Park – Moraine Park is located on Beaver Lake Road approximately 1 mile from the US 36 turn off.
Old Fall River Road – Not open until July 4th. One way traffic only. 9 miles to the top at Fall River Pass and the Alpine Visitor Center.
Lily Lake – Lily Lake is located 6 miles south of Estes Park on Colorado Highway 7 (also known as the Peak to Peak Highway).
Longs Peak – Lily Lake is located 9 miles south of Estes Park on Colorado Highway 7.
Wild Basin – Located between the Towns of Meeker Park and Allenspark on Colorado Highway 7.
El Capitan is a 3,000-foot (910 m) vertical rock formation in Yosemite National Park, California, located on the north side of Yosemite Valley, near its western end. The granite monolith is one of the world’s favorite challenges for rock climbers.
The formation was named ‘El Capitan’ by the Mariposa Battalion who explored the valley in 1851. (Mariposa Battalion was a California State Militia unit formed in 1851 to fight the Yosemites and Chowchillas in the Mariposa War.)
El Capitan (‘the captain’, ‘the chief’) was taken to be a loose Spanish translation of the local Native American name for the cliff, variously transcribed as ‘To-to-kon oo-lah’ or ‘To-tock-ah-noo-lah’. It is unclear if the Native American name referred to a specific Tribal chief, or simply meant ‘the chief’ or ‘rock chief’.
In modern times, the formation’s name is often contracted to “El Cap”, especially among rock climbers. The top of El Capitan can be reached by hiking out of Yosemite Valley on the trail next to Yosemite Falls, then proceeding west.
For climbers, the challenge is to climb up the sheer granite face; there are dozens of named climbing routes, all of them long and difficult.
Emerald Bay State Park is a state park located around Emerald Bay, a National Natural Landmark, at Lake Tahoe, California.
The park is home to Eagle Falls and Vikingsholm, a 38-room mansion that is one of the finest examples of Scandinavian architecture in the western hemisphere. The park contains the only island in Lake Tahoe, Fannette Island and is accessible by State Route 89 near the southwest shore of the lake. Emerald Bay is one of Lake Tahoe’s most photographed and popular locations.
In 1969, Emerald Bay was recognized as a National Natural Landmark by the federal Department of the Interior. In 1994, California State Parks included the surrounding water of the bay as a part of the park, making Emerald Bay one of the first underwater parks of its type in the state, protecting the various wrecks and other items on the bay’s bottom.
Summer temperatures at the park range from the low 40 °F (4 °C) at night to mid-70 °F (25 °C) during the day, and during the winter visitors will usually experience temperatures between 20 and 40 °F (-7 and 4 °C). During harsh winters, the bay freezes over. The bay is about 1.7 miles (2.7 km) in length, and about two-thirds of a mile (1 km) wide at its widest point.
Sea World San Diego is a theme park located in San Diego, California. The park was founded in 1964 by four graduates of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). They had originally considered the idea of building an underwater restaurant, but the concept grew into the idea of a marine zoological park on 22 acres (89,000 m2) along the shore of Mission Bay in San Diego.
With an initial investment of $1.5 million, 45 employees, several dolphins, sea lions, and two seawater aquariums, Sea World drew more than 400,000 visitors its first year.
To date, the park has now surpassed 130 million visitors since opening.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is located on the site of a former sardine cannery on Cannery Row in Monterey, California, is one of the largest aquariums in the world. It has an annual attendance of 1.8 million and holds 35,000 plants and animals representing 623 species. Among the aquarium’s numerous exhibits, two are of particular note.
The centerpiece of the Ocean’s Edge wing is a 33-foot (10-m) high tank for viewing California coastal marine life. In this tank, the aquarium was the first in the world to grow live California Giant Kelp using a wave machine at the top of the tank allowing sunlight in through the open tank top, and pumping in raw seawater.
The second exhibit of note is a one million gallon tank in the Outer Bay Wing which features one of the world’s largest single-paned windows (crafted by a Japanese company, the window is actually four panes seamlessly glued together through a proprietary process). The Monterey Bay Aquarium maintains a close relationship with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI).
General Sherman is the name of a Giant Sequoia, which is the largest tree in the world with a height of 275 feet (83.8 metres).
As of 2002, the volume of its trunk measured about 1487 cubic meters, making it the largest non-clonal organism by volume. The tree is located in the Giant Forest of Sequoia National Park in the United States, east of Visalia, California. The tree is believed to be between 2,300 and 2,700 years old.
The tree was named after the American Civil War leader General William Tecumseh Sherman, by naturalist James Wolverton in 1879. Wolverton had served as a Lieutenant in the 9th Indiana Cavalry under Sherman.
In January 2006 the largest branch on the tree, seen most commonly in older photos as an “L” or “golf club” shape protruding from about 1/4th down the trunk, broke off. No one was present for the incident, but the branch, which had a diameter of over 2 m (6 feet) and a length of over 30 m (100 feet), was itself bigger than most trees on the planet.
The Sundial Bridge is a cantilever spar cable-stayed bridge that spans the Sacramento River in Redding, California. It was designed by Santiago Calatrava and completed in 2004 at a cost of US$23,000,000. Similar to his earlier (1992) design (the Puente del Alamillo in Seville, Spain), the bridge does not balance the forces by using a symmetrical arrangement of cable forces on each side of the tower; instead it uses an angled cantilever tower loaded by cable stays on only one side. This requires that the spar resist bending and torsional forces and that its foundation resists overturning.
While this leads to a less structurally efficient structure, the architectural statement is dramatic. This ‘greenbridge’ features a single 217 foot (66 metre) mast that serves as the gnomon of the world’s largest sundial. Sundial Bridge’s shadow is cast upon a large dial to the north of the bridge, though the shadow cast by the bridge is exactly accurate on only one day in a year – the summer solstice, June 21. The tip of the shadow moves at approximately one foot per minute so that the Earth’s rotation about its axis can be seen with the naked eye.
Sundial Bridge provides pedestrian access to the north and south areas of Turtle Bay Exploration Park, a complex containing environmental, art and history museums and the McConnell Arboretum and Gardens, and to the Sacramento River Trail.
Death Valley is a desert located in California. It is the lowest, driest and hottest valley in the United States and the location of the lowest elevation in North America at 85.5 m (282 ft) below sea level.
Death Valley holds the record for the highest reliably reported temperature in the Western hemisphere (134 °F (56.7 °C) at Furnace Creek in 1913) – just short of the world’s highest, which was 136 F (58 C) in El Aziza, Libya on Sept. 13, 1922.
Located southeast of the Sierra Nevada range in the Great Basin and the Mojave Desert, it constitutes much of Death Valley National Park. It is mostly located in Inyo County, California. It has an area of about 3,000 square miles (7,800 square km).
Grants Pass, Oregon is the home to the Oregon Caveman, a stunning 17-foot replica of early man constructed by the “Caveman Club” back in 1971.
He proudly stands on his rock pedestal and guards the entrance to the town. After more than 30 years on guard, the Caveman finally got a much-needed fiberglass makeover in 2004 and resumed his post overlooking the town in 2005.
Mammy’s Cupboard is a restaurant shaped like a 28-foot tall black woman in a gigantic skirt. At least, she appears to be a woman, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a more frightening face on this roadside attraction. The restaurant itself is open for lunch Tuesdays – Saturdays and really is an interesting stop. The building is severely decayed, but rumors say the statue has been repaired. I guess, you’ll just have to find out for yourself.
The Beverly Hills City Hall has gracefully presided over the city’s civic life since 1932 and has become famous the world over after being used in several blockbuster films such as Beverley Hills Cop.
Architect William Gage created the Spanish Renaissance building in typical government style of that era. The low classical base, which symbolizes government, is dominated by an eight-story tower, which represents commerce. But the beauty of the building, with its tiled dome and gilded cupola, soon transcended the typical government building and has become a beloved local landmark.
Renovated to meet new safety and earthquake codes in 1982 the rich architectural details were carefully maintained. Inside, the terrazzo floors, marble walls and intricate ceilings were cleaned and restored. Outdoors, grime was meticulously removed from the blue, green and gold tile on the dome and gilded cupola.
Today, the definitive symbol of the world of entertainment, the 45 feet high white letters of the Hollywood Sign were originally created merely as an advertisement in 1923, but garnered increasing recognition after its initial purpose had been fulfilled.
The sign originally read HOLLYWOODLAND, and its purpose was to advertise a new housing development in the hills above the Hollywood district of Los Angeles.
After falling into disrepair, in 1978, the sign was brought back to life following a massive public campaign headed by shock rocker Alice Cooper. Nine donors paid to replace the letters (which were originally made of wood) with Australian steel, guaranteed to last for many years.
Bodie, California is a ghost town east of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Mono County, California, about 75 miles (120 km) southeast of Lake Tahoe.
As Bodie Historic District, the U.S. Department of the Interior recognizes it as a National Historic Landmark. The ghost town has been administered by California State Parks since becoming a state historic park in 1962.
Bodie began as a mining camp of little note following the discovery of gold in 1859 by prospector W. S. Bodey. In 1876, the Standard Company discovered a profitable deposit of gold-bearing ore, which transformed Bodie from an isolated mining camp to a Wild West boomtown.
As a bustling gold mining center, Bodie had the amenities of larger towns, including two banks, a brass band, railroad, miner’s and mechanic’s unions, several newspapers, and a jail. At its peak 65 saloons lined Main Street, which was a mile long. Murders, shootouts, barroom brawls, and stagecoach holdups were regular occurrences.
Though greatly reduced in prominence, Bodie held a permanent residency through most of the 20th century, even after a fire ravaged much of the downtown business district in 1932.
Today, Bodie is preserved in a state of arrested decay. Visitors can walk the deserted streets of a town that once had a population of nearly 10,000 people. Interiors remain as they were left and stocked with goods.
The Hearst Castle is the palatial estate built by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. It is located near San Simeon, California, on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean, halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Donated by the Hearst Corporation to the state of California in 1957, it is now a State Historical Monument and a National Historic Landmark, open for public tours. Hearst formally named the estate “La Cuesta Encantada” (“The Enchanted Hill”), but he usually just called it “the ranch”. The estate is a pastiche of historic architectural styles that Hearst admired in his travels around Europe.
The main house is modeled after a 16th century Spanish cathedral, while the outdoor swimming pool features an ancient Roman temple front transported wholesale from Europe and reconstructed at the site. Hearst furnished the estate with truckloads of art, antiques, and even whole ceilings that he acquired in their entirety from Europe and Egypt.
Hearst Castle featured 56 bedrooms, 61 bathrooms, 19 sitting rooms, 127 acres (0.51 km2) of gardens, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts, a movie theater, an airfield, and the world’s largest private zoo.
The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway opened in September 1963 as a way of getting from the floor of the Coachella Valley to near the top of San Jacinto Peak. Prior to its construction, the only way to the top of the mountain was to hike for several hours from Idyllwild.
Today, the tram is one of the biggest attractions in Southern California. The eight-and-a-half-minute ride beginning at the Valley Station up North America’s sheerest mountain face passes through several life zones on its way to the mountain station at 8516 feet (2600 m) above mean sea level.
The trip has been likened in terms of geologic and climatic change to a motor trip from Sonora to the Canadian tundra. Passengers disembark at the Mountain Station in the alpine wilderness of Long Valley and Mount San Jacinto State Park.
The air can be as much as 40 °F (25 °C) cooler at the top than in the desert. Visitors can walk along nature trails, take a burro ride or even play in the snow during the winter months. The view at the top can stretch northward for more than 200 miles (300 km) on a clear day, all the way to Mount Charleston north of Las Vegas. Views to the east and west can stretch as far as 75 miles (120 km); the Salton Sea is plainly visible to the southeast.
Origin of Name: Derived from a popular Spanish novel published in 1510 which described a fictional island paradise named California — Las Sergas de Esplandián,by Garcia Ordóñez de Montalvo.
- State Abbreviation – CA
- State Capital – Sacramento
- Statehood – September 9, 1850
- Number of Counties – 58
- State Motto – Eureka (I have found it)
- State Flower – Golden Poppy
- State Tree – California Redwood
- State Bird – California Valley Quail
- State Animal – Grizzly Bear
- State Marine Animal – California Gray Whale
- State Marine Fish – The Garibaldi
- State Fish – Golden Trout
- State Insect – The California dogface butterfly
- State Nickname – Golden State
- State Gem – Benitoite
- State Rock – Serpentine
- State Fossil – The Sabre-Tooth Cat
- State Area Codes – 209, 213, 310, 323, 369, 408, 415, 424, 442, 510, 530, 559, 562, 619, 626, 627, 628, 650, 657, 661, 669, 707, 714, 747, 752, 760, 805, 818, 831, 858, 871, 909, 916, 925, 935, 949, 951
- National Parks – 10
- National Forests – 18
- State Parks & Beaches – 278
The Hollywood Walk of Fame is Hollywood’s tribute to the Hollywood Stars of yesterday and today. This is where the Stars are immortalized with a star on the sidewalk in their honor. The Hollywood Walk of Fame lines both sides of Hollywood Boulevard from Gower to La Brea, and both sides of Vine Street, from Yucca to Sunset.
The Hollywood Walk of Fame was created in 1958 by southern Californian artist Oliver Weissmuller, who was hired by the city to give Hollywood a “face lift”. Many honorees received multiple stars during the initial phase of installation for contributions to separate categories; however, the practice in recent decades has been to honor individuals not yet represented, with only a handful of previous honorees being awarded additional stars. In 1978, the City of Los Angeles designated the Walk of Fame as a Cultural/Historic Landmark.
The Walk of Fame began with 2,500 blank stars. A total of 1,558 stars were awarded during its first sixteen months. Since then, about two stars have been added per month. By 2005, more than 2,400 of the original stars were filled, and additional stars extended the Walk west past Sycamore to La Brea Avenue, where it now starts/ends at the Silver Four Ladies of Hollywood Gazebo, (with stars honoring The Beatles and Elvis Presley). The Walk of Fame is maintained by the self-financing Hollywood Historic Trust.
In order for a person to get a star on the Walk of Fame, he or she must agree to attend a presentation ceremony within five years of selection, and a $25,000 fee must be paid to the Trust for costs such as security at the star ceremony. There have been four stars stolen from the Walk of Fame.
The stars of Jimmy Stewart and Kirk Douglas, which had been removed during a construction project, were stolen from the site on Vine Street. The culprit was a contractor who was later caught with the two damaged and unusable stars, but not until after they had been replaced. One of Gene Autry’s stars was also taken from another construction project. That star was found in Iowa. On November 27, 2005, thieves sawed Gregory Peck’s star out of the sidewalk near Gower. Cameras are now being placed on the walk district to catch thieves.
Origin of Name – French interpretation of the Algonquin Indian word “Ookansa” (referring to the Quapaw Tribe who lived in Arkansas) meaning “South Wind.”
- State Abbreviation – AR
- State Capital – Little Rock
- State Nickname – The Natural State
- Statehood – June 15, 1836
- Number of Counties – 75
- State Bird – Mockingbird
- State Insect – Honeybee
- State Mammal – White-tailed Deer
- State Tree – Loblolly Pine
- State Flower – Apple blossom
- State Beverage – Milk
- State Book – The Holy Bible
- State Instrument – Fiddle
- State Area Codes – 479,501,870
- State Motto – Regnat populus (The people rule)
- State Gem – Diamond
- State Mineral – Quartz Crystal
- State Fruit – Vine Ripe Pink Tomato
- State Parks – 51
- National Parks – 1
- National Forests – 2