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PHOTOS: Obamas take a long hike at Yosemite National Park

June 19, 2016 17:00 IST

The United States President Barack Obama and the First Family headed to Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico and Yosemite National Park in California over the weekend.

IMAGE: US President Barack Obama speaks about the National Park Service at Yosemite National Park, California. Photographs: Joshua Roberts/Reuters

The family vacation comes a week after the oldest daughter, Malia, graduated from the private Sidwell Friends School at an outdoor ceremony that the family attended. 

“I want to make sure that the American people are able to enjoy the incredible national parks, the incredible beauty, the mountains, the oceans that have been one of the greatest gifts that we have ever received,” Obama said in a Facebook video about the trip.

IMAGE: US President Barack Obama is followed by U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama and their daughters Sasha and Malia as they arrive at Yosemite National Park.

“I want to make sure that the whole world is able to pass on to future generations the God-given beauty of this planet I want to make sure that the whole world is able to pass on to future generations.”

Speaking at the park, Obama said park rangers were also experiencing the effects of climate change: meadows are drying out, bird migrations are shifting elsewhere and higher temperatures are sending some animals to higher elevations.

IMAGE: The US president waves to well wishers as he greets park rangers at Yosemite.

Since taking office in 2009, Obama said his government has protected well over 100 million hectares of public lands and water, more than any other previous US administration. 

The park service was created in August 1916. Yosemite, near Fresno, California, is among the 10 most popular parks, with about 4 million people visiting annually.  It is known for its waterfalls, but also boasts ancient giant sequoia trees and a vast wilderness area.

IMAGE: US President Barack Obama and U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama take part in "Every Kid in a Park" with children at Yosemite. 

The park visits will cap a difficult week for Obama that opened with Sunday's shooting deaths of 49 party-goers at an Orlando, Florida, nightclub by a lone gunman. 

IMAGE: Obama is helped up by children as US First Lady Michelle Obama watches during an "Every Kid in a Park" event at Yosemite.

IMAGE: The 'every kid in a park' program ensures that kids – and youths across the nation – get the chance to visit national parks.