(Image courtesy of Unsplash)
What a place, what a trip, what an experience that words cannot even fully express. The best way to experience Yosemite is to just go see it for yourself. But, if you're like me, and you're about a twelve hour drive away from this gem tucked away in the mountains of Northern California, then this read may have to suffice for now.
Yosemite is the third most visited National Park in the United States. With literally millions of visitors every year, this works out to be quite a crowded daily visit. When visiting Yosemite, it's best to plan your trip out a year in advance. This gives you time to potentially get a spot within the park to camp, and trust me, that's something you want to do.
Regardless of if you camp in or out of the park, you'll want to be at the park by 6-7AM every morning. This allows for gorgeous lighting over the towering granite mountain sides, golden hues through the massive sequoias, and a little sparkle over the dazzling waterfalls. Leaving the park, I would highly recommend staying through sunset. There are some absolutely incredible places to see the granite walls turn to hues of pink and purple, and watch the trees melt into the landscape.
Being within the park is nothing short of incredible. The fresh pine area, the cool mist from the waterfalls, the endless options of how to spend your day in this wild paradise, it's easy to feel overwhelmed by all that you may want to do during your visit.
Here's some things I would recommend not missing:
Glacier Point : It's an hour of winding mountain roads from Yosemite Valley, but it is by far one of the best views in the park. Hit this location at sunset for some unreal colors over granite walls of half dome and over the valley.
Tunnel View : Did you even go to Yosemite if you didn't check out Tunnel View?
Not too far a of drive from the valley, leave 40ish minutes before sunset to ensure you get a parking spot and a place to capture the sunset.
Yosemite Falls : There is a stunning view of this of this waterfall in the morning from Sentinal Meadows. Arrive bright and early to snag a spot in the parking lot here, so you can already be parked in the park for the day!
Vernal Falls - John Muir Trail - Nevada Falls :
Quite a long hike with a decent elevation gain, but well worth the trek. John coined it best, "The Mountains are Calling, and I Must Go." It's hard to not feel called by the stunning nature around you. Be prepared with proper work out attire, shoes, and something waterproof for the trek past Vernal Falls. (You will get wet for sure.)
Tuolumne Meadows :
This may be the way you enter the park depending on your route. If it's not, be sure to at least exit through here, because it is nothing short of incredible. There's a ton of lakes and beautiful snow capped mountains (even in the summer heat.) It will be hard to contain your joy and inner child when you see the vast fields waiting to be run through.
The park is huge, there is no doubt about this. When you go, your entrance fee covers you for seven days, and I would recommend taking advantage of that to try to get the most out of the park. I certainly wasn't there long enough, so I guess I'll just have to go back. :)
Care to join me? Until next time.
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