The Big Trees Tour of Yosemite's Mariposa Grove

Put on the headphones and prepare to marvel at mega sequoias.

NATIONAL PARK GEMS: It's National Park Week, that time of year when fees to enter dozens of our glorious parks are waived. Yosemite is one such park, but it doesn't have to worry that visitors will trickle away after the free days go. On the contrary, summertime and the waterfall-laden destination go way back on the family vacation front. Meaning that while the park gets an uptick of visits during National Park Week, the soon-to-come summer will really hum. This means that a lot of activities start up around late April, including the Valley Floor Tour, the opening of the stables, and other outdoorsy pursuits. One we're feeling rather sweet on, though, is the Big Trees Tram Tour at Mariposa Grove. The outside-the-valley tour, which is near the south entrance (and not too far from Wawona Lodge), just opened for the 2013 season on Saturday, April 18.

THE STORY OF SEQUOIAS: The tram tour is not hosted by a ranger but rather features an audio component. Meaning? You'll strap on some headphones and sit back for the hour and fifteen minutes drive. An adult ticket is $26.50, and they're not reservable, so get to the Mariposa Grove Gift Shop early on the day you want to see the trees. The tours run through October.

MEET MARIPOSA GROVE: Around 500 mature sequoias populate this Yosemite tree-laden favorite. Yep, sequoias are often called the largest living things on earth, so you'll be doing a lot of looking/marveling/ahhing/oohing. There's a lot of age-talk with these trees, too, so if you're on the tour prepare to hear about how some of the specimens in the grove are over 3,000 years old. Yep, very ahh/ooh-worthy, indeed.

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