There’s a good reason why Yosemite National Park is iconic – it’s simply astonishingly beautiful.
Our campground was located about two hours from Yosemite Valley, which made for a long day trip. But the drive itself was beautiful as we transitioned from nut groves, through cattle pasture, through the foothills and into the mountains. That really didn’t get old.
One of the park highlights is the gorgeous Yosemite Valley, a U-shaped glacier cut valley complete with dramatic granite rock faces reaching thousands of feet high and long flowing waterfalls. Looking out from the tunnel view overlook to see El Capitan, Half Dome and Bridalveil Falls was one of those “pinch me, am I really here” moments. Being here in the spring meant that all of the waterfalls and streams were in full, spectacular flow.
One of the best ways to explore the valley is by bicycle on the network of bicycle paths. We parked the truck at a central location and used our bicycles to meander through the valley to the various sights, villages, and trailheads. The spring weather was glorious. We even stopped for a leisurely late breakfast at the Majestic Yosemite Hotel, a 1920’s era structure that retains its elegant vibe. Most of the Valley highlights can be viewed from the road, or by a short trail. More rigorous hiking is available if you want to climb steep trails up the granite walls out of the Valley.
Another “must see” is Glacier Point, a Yosemite Valley overlook. It is accessed by Glacier Point road (closed in the winter, but open by our visit) Yosemite also has its own giant sequoia grove, (Mariposa Grove), but it was closed during our visit for refurbishment. It is slated to reopen later this year (2018). We didn’t explore the road that runs all the way through to the other side of the Park (Highway 120) because it was still closed for the season.
Because the park is so beautiful and iconic, it is very popular and very, very busy. Even early in May, if you don’t get to the park early, you may have trouble finding parking. I understand that peak season is literally bumper to bumper. Make reservations as far in advance as possible, and get there early!
We are currently in Lodi, California experiencing wine country and day tripping to San Francisco. More on that later!