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The best national parks for extreme sports

By: Starre Vartan on July 8, 2012, 5:51 p.m.
Yosemite National Park

Photo: mariachily/flickr

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Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is where extreme rock climbing first got national attention when Warren Harding took more than a year to get to the top of El Capitan in 1958. These days, experienced climbers can make the trip in less than five hours. Rock climbing’s conservationist ethic also began in Yosemite, and Harding and other early climbers worked with the park to encourage respect toward these natural areas.


Today, Yosemite is one of the world’s top places to rock climb, and with a variety of walls and challenges for less-experienced climbers, as well as tough ascents like El Capitan and Half Dome, there’s something for everyone. If you’re looking for instruction, check out the Yosemite Climbing School, which is a good place to get started.