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Looking for things to do on your next vacation in the Sierra Nevada? From the largest gold leaf nugget in the world to the iconic falls that Ansel Adams made famous, here’s seven weird & wonderful things you won’t want to not miss in the High Sierra.

The Classic “Fall” In All Those Pictures Of Yosemite

Learn more about the falls in Yosemite

Bridalveil Fall Yosemite things to not miss in the high sierra
Image appears courtesy: Yosemite Mariposa County Tourism Bureau

The glaciated Yosemite Valley at approximately 3,500 feet deep is home to one of the biggest collections of dramatic waterfalls in the United States. Within that assortment there might be bigger ones, but there isn’t one that stands out more than the Bridalveil Fall. And yes… there’s no “s” in its name. This is THE waterfall you see in all those classic photos made famous by world renowned photographer Ansel Adams.

Drive Through A Giant Sequoia

Learn more about Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park Tunnel Log Driving
Image appears courtesy: Visalia Convention & Visitors Bureau

There are roadside attractions and then there are attractions that are physically ON the road… like the Tunnel Log. After a Sequoia tree fell over the Crescent Meadow road in 1937, it was cut so visitors could actually drive through it, starting in the summer of ’38. Don’t miss your chance to drive through a Giant Sequoia.

Grandfather Time Has Nothing On These Trees

Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest Natural Attractions in the High Sierra
Photo by Instagrammer: richmoorephoto – Appears Courtesy: Visit Bishop

Nearly a century ago, Teddy Roosevelt established the Inyo National Forest. You may think that’s a long time, but it’s only a drop in the bucket for its residents. The Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest atop the White Mountains contains conifers with a particular one named Methuselah. This hardy denizen ages in at a whopping 4,800 years old making it the OLDEST tree on the planet.

See The World Split Apart

Learn more about the Earthquake Fault

Earthquake Fault
Image appears courtesy: Mammoth Lakes Tourism

The Sierra Nevada mountain range was created by the mighty uplift of two tectonic plates smashing into each other. And there’s no better way to see the geological evidence than by checking out the Earthquake fault. About 1 mile west of the Mammoth Scenic Loop, the fissure cuts through hard volcanic rock for several hundred feet, reaching a depth up to 60 feet. While called a fault, it’s more accurately described as a fracture since it’s believed to have formed during one of the recent Inyo/Mono Craters eruptions.

Soar Above The Largest Alpine Lake

parasailing on Lake Tahoe
Photo by: Rachid Dahnoun – Image appears courtesy: Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority

Have you ever wondered what it would feel like to be a bird soaring above Lake Tahoe? To be HUNDREDS of feet above the waters. The wind in your wings and the world below you. Well, you can in Lake Tahoe by going on a parasailing adventure. While the boat zips around at full speed on the waters, you’ll be enjoying a true birds-eye view. For more unique ideas such as this, be sure to check out Tahoe South’s article: 21 Bucket List Must Do’s At Lake Tahoe.

Saddle Up To The Oldest Saloon In California

Image appears courtesy: Visit Tuolumne

There’s something about getting a frothy brew at an old watering hole. Maybe that it feels more homey or that there are just so many stories about the place. Regardless, when it comes to the OLDEST drinking establishment in California, you’ll find it in the amazing town of Groveland at the Iron Door Saloon. Everything about this place oozes history and one-of-a kind charm. For starters, let’s talk about its architecture. The front and back walls are made of solid granite blocks (the only one in town built from granite). The roof consists of THREE-FOOT sod, covered by tin. Last but not least, the saloon was renamed from Granite Store to Iron Door due to the hefty iron doors which were manufactured in England and hauled in on mules.

Visit the Largest Crystalline Gold Leaf Specimen Ever Found

Learn more about the “Crown Jewel” & Ironstone Vineyards

Ironstone Heritage Museum gold nugget crown jewel
Photo by: Menka Belgal – Image appears courtesy: Calaveras County Visitors Bureau

Have you heard of the Crown Jewels in London? Those puny stones pale in comparison to the crown jewel at Ironstone Vineyards. This wonder was unearthed just a few miles from the family owned vineyard. Weighing in at 44 troy pounds (and 98 percent pure), it makes the Ironstone specimen the largest gold leaf specimen ever found. In fact, for comparison, Ironstone’s specimen is double the size of the next two largest specimens combined with the Fricot specimen weighing in at 13.8 troy pounds & the Whopper specimen weighing in at 11.7 troy pounds.

Want even more ideas while in Calaveras county? Learn more at www.gocalaveras.com.

From the highest peaks to the lowest valleys, each nook & cranny of the High Sierra is filled with unique things to see. Hopefully these “gems” will inspire you to plan a trip today!

Author: Alex Silgalis

Alex Silgalis is an outdoors travel writer who enjoys snowboarding, mountain biking, or having a cold one from a local mountain brewery. See more of Alex’s work at https://localfreshies.com



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