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DeaTh val­ley Na­TiONal park

1Don’t let the omi­nous name scare you. Most of the year, this vast and rugged ex­panse of east Cal­i­for­nian desert is bru­tally hot. But visit in win­ter or early spring and you’ll find a sur­pris­ingly beau­ti­ful and vi­brant place.

JOshua Tree Na­TiONal park

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The park was named af­ter the oth­er­worldly trees that dot the land­scape, but the real stars here are the rock for­ma­tions – jum­bled piles of out­sized boul­ders that glit­ter with crys­tals in the south­ern Cal­i­for­nian sun.

piNNa­cles Na­TiONal park

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The mas­sive spires and sheer canyons are the re­mains of an an­cient vol­cano that was split in two by the San An­dreas Fault and hauled 150 miles from its orig­i­nal lo­ca­tion. The spec­tac­u­lar walls at­tract climbers, as well as bats, fal­cons and one of the rarest birds in the world, the Cal­i­for­nia con­dor.

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