A journal of unforgettable experiences on one of the most beautiful places in the world - Yosemite National Park. This was based on 3 visits to this truly stunning place, mostly in the early and late summer.
by Moira126 on March 1, 2010
A park ranger was asked what he will do if he only has one day to spend in Yosemite. He answered, "I'd weep."This story has struck a chord in me because I feel the same way. Yosemite is one of the most beautiful places on earth offering views of magnificent granite cliffs, breathtaking waterfalls, lush meadows, pristine lakes, towering giant sequioas, diverse wildlife and a whole lot more. A day in this park will never do it justice.A drive along Yosemite Valley will provide incredible sights, but Yosemite National Park is so much more than Yosemite Valley. Don't forget to venture out and visit Glacier Point, the Mariposa Grove of gigantic sequioas, drive up to Tuolomne Meadows and a whole lot more.A visit to Yosemite could be done anytime of the year, each season offering its distinctive character. But remember to get as much information about how the conditions in the park are before you go, so that you can make the most out of your visit. A trip during the spring for example will show thundering waterfalls since snow from the peaks are melting, but areas such as Tioga Road may not be open yet. Going in the late summer may not be recommended for waterfall enthusiasts because the flow might be reduced to a mere trickle, but then there would be other activities or parts of the park that will be in full swing.Anytime of the year, though, there is no limit to beautiful scenes that you would see. Every season is worth a visit.
With more than 3 million visitors every year and most of them staying in and around Yosemite Valley, the valley can get pretty crowded especially in the summer. Private vehicles are allowed in the valley, but when you're driving and surrounded by such beauty, expect to be distracted. This is why I would not want to be the one driving. A long line of parked cars along the road could also put a damper on your full enjoyment of the view. To fully take in the beautiful scenery and help ease the overcrowding problem, I suggest making full use of the free shuttle buses. They have regularly scheduled stops in various places of interest in the valley and they could even go some roads where private vehicles are off limits. The shuttle buses are mostly free and could take you around the valley. There is also free service that go to the Mariposa Grove and up to Tuolomne Meadows. Some shuttle buses are tour buses or hikers buses that may charge a fee such as the one going up to Glacier Point. The shuttle buses are convenient and good for the environment. And in this way, you don't have to worry about finding a parking spot each time you see a magnificent vista worthy of a picture.
The Mariposa Grove in Yosemite contain enormous sequioa trees probably considered the largest living things in the world. These Giant Sequioas could grow to about an average of 200 feet in height and about 8 feet in diameter and some are more than 2000 years old! Walking under these massive beings is truly a humbling experience.Park ranger tours along the park trails are always pleasure to listen to. One of the most interesting information about the trees that stayed with me is how these giant sequioas are resistant to decay so they can stay for years even after falling down. You can see evidence of these fallen giants all throughout the grove. Another great fact about these trees is how they are very brittle so that when they are cut down, they would break and shatter when they fall. This does not make them very attractive to loggers which is wonderful for their preservation.Among the famous of these enormous trees include the Grizzly Giant, thought to be the oldest and one of the biggest in the grove. There is also the famous Tunnel Tree where a tunnel was cut through it to allow passing through the tree.Parking is limited in the grove especially in the crowded summer months. It would be best to take the free shuttle from the valley to get here to save yourself the trouble.
Yosemite Falls, popularly considered the highest waterfall in North America, is a famous landmark in the park and is visible in various points in the valley. Primarily composed of Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls, it creates thundering roars in the spring, but could be just mist, or almost gone by late summer.The Lower Yosemite Falls hike is one of the easiest hikes, mostly paved and with minimal or no elevation gain. It is even partly wheelchair accessible. For this reason and due to its popularity, this hike is also usually the most crowded. But the hike showcases beautiful views of both Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls, then the 1 mile loop takes you very near Lower Yosemite Falls in its wonderful glory. Parking near or around this trail could be very difficult because of limited spots available. I would recommend parking somewhere else in the valley and then taking the free shuttle bus, proceed to the shuttle bus stop #6. This stop is the official trailhead. It could also be a short and easy walk from Yosemite Lodge at the Falls if this is where you stay. The whole trail could take an average of 30 minutes or less to complete.
by Moira126 on February 25, 2010
"What happened to the other half of Half Dome?"We were in Glacier Point listening to the Ranger Sunset Talk when a little girl asked this question. It was an interesting discussion... something about how, for thousands of years, glaciers shaped the many structures in Yosemite - the massive rock formations, the valley, the falls... It provided interesting insight on how all the beautiful scenery became as it is now. Glacier Point should never be missed when visiting Yosemite. It is on about 7000 feet of elevation and could be reached by private vehicle although the drive could be a little "scary" at some points, as a friend would say, because there are parts of the road so near a a cliff. But then again she was not a very experienced driver :) Just remember to drive slow and very carefully. The great part about this is that Glacier Point could be reached by car, so you do not have a go on a "strenuous hike" to get to see the amazing vistas. This is great for people who could not really do a hike. But then again, if you're an adventurous soul, you could always reach Glacier Point through the Four Mile Trail from Yosemite Valley. Don't let that name deceive you because that trail could have elevation gains of about 3000 feet. For the not-so-adventurous, I suggest taking the Four Mile Trail, but starting at Glacier Point going down to the valley.The best part of Glacier Point are the views! It showcases the famous points in Yosemite including, Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, Nevada and Vernal Falls, among others. It shows how all encompassing Yosemite could be. Even if you look all the way to the horizon, as far as the eye can see - in all different directions, there is just as much Yosemite on the other side - the side that you cannot see...
by Moira126 on February 28, 2010
I believe that hiking is the best way to enjoy the sights and sounds of Yosemite. The Mist Trail should be considered one of the best! One could hike up to Vernal Falls where one would be covered by the mist from the falls (hence the name Mist Trail). Listed as a hike of "moderate" difficulty, the trail starts off at Happy Isles and passes along Merced River. This already gives off a calm, relaxing vibe. The hike is just about 3 miles round trip (to Vernal Falls) but it could be one of the longest 3 miles ever done because of about a thousand feet elevation gain. One could also decide to go further up to Nevada Falls which should add about another 1.5 miles (round trip), and more elevation gain. One great thing about this hike is that you could turn back at any time and still feel good about seeing the wonderful views along the way.But the best part of this trail is the scenery. There is always something to see! When you get to the bridge overlook about halfway through and get a glimpse of Vernal Falls, you will be hooked! From then on, the views will just get more spectacular. Approaching Vernal Falls is a treat for the senses. It is amazing to look at the falls and the rainbows formed when the rays of light touch the mist. There is also the thundering roar of the water crashing down the rocks below, the sound of which could be almost comforting and threatening at the same time. And there is the feel of the mist getting more intense the nearer youget - the sprays very refreshing during a hot day. But don't forget to bring waterproof stuff for your expensive camera, because I could almost guarantee you will be drenched before you get to the top of Vernal Falls. Yes, the Mist Trial hike experience is truly remarkable and should never be missed!
Most visits to Yosemite are confined in Yosemite Valley. Yes, the valley provides incredible views of the most famous Yosemite landmarks like the Yosemite Falls, El Capitan, Half Dome, etc. It provides an incredible experience as it is, but the valley is also the most crowded. Yosemite is so much more than that, it is massive! Driving Tioga Road would give you the chance to breakaway from where it is most crowded and experience so much more that Yosemite has to offer… Tioga Road is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful drives you would ever make. It provides breathtaking sights passing through the Sierra Nevada which offers spectacular views of magnificent granite formations, beautiful lakes, blossoming meadows and the drive may reach elevations of near 10,000 feet. This road is closed for nearly half of the year, usually from November to May, but it is an experience that is truly overwhelming.Highlights of the drive include Tuolumne Meadows which provides a great view of Lembert Dome. At its best, the meadows are covered with colorful wildflowers that are just beautiful, and the sparkling river creates a relaxing scene. There are wonderful trails here for day hikes and even some uncomplicated rock climbing. While there, you can stop by the visitor center and learn more about the natural wonders surrounding you.Don’t forget to stop by Olmsted Point which is a viewing area to experience granite greatness. This site offers the back view of Half Dome. If you bring a nice pair of binoculars on a clear day, you can even see hikers climbing to the top of Half Dome.Before you can catch your breath, you would see a glimpse of Tenaya Lake which is just mind-blowing. It looks serene and beautiful that it inspires calm just by looking at it. While there, it is not difficult to imagine that you are in one of the most beautiful places in the world.
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