A few months ago, I were finally able to cross off one of my biggest bucket list items- Yosemite National Park. This “pinch me, I must be dreaming” kind of a place is full of a frothy waterfalls, granite walls, clear water lakes, shimmering meadows and giant trees.
This place is insanely beautiful. You can wonder at pictures, but they don’t capture the essence. There is a great MaGic here.
We took our time and drove through the valley, which is a big loop, trying to find the best stops along the way.
It was the first waterfall we saw as we entered in the Park. We walked on a easy paved trail from the parking lot (less than half a mile) to the base of the falls. This magnificent fall drops at 620 feet and flows all year around.
It’s famous for the mist that drift off it when the breezes blow and which resembles a bridal veil and that is how it got the name.
Tunnel View on Highway 41 is another place where you can get a different view of the same waterfall.
Our next stop was located between the Merced River and Curry Village. This was the first place to get the glimpse of those massive granite rock formations decorated with the colorful pine trees and a snow covered walkway.
Indeed, this is a great spot to pose for photographs.
The Royal Arches refers to a cliff containing natural occurring granite exfoliation arches, located below North Dome. It was an interesting site to behold and one can only imagine the powers that formed these uniform arches millions of years ago!!
SWINGING BRIDGE AREA
After driving for a while, we spotted the Swinging Bridge area that provides excellent views of Sentinel Rock. You can walk the wooden bridge build over the clear water Merced River to get the closer view of this magnificent granite dome.
It’s such a scenic spot that many couples choose this location for their Yosemite wedding.
Mirror Lake is my personal favorite spot in the Yosemite NP. It can be reached by a short trail that starts in Yosemite village at the Mirror Lake junction or shuttle stop 17.
I was awestruck looking at the reflections of Half Dome and Mount Watkins in the clear water of Mirror Lake. The sight was so beautiful and colorful that I couldn’t take my eyes off .
We also spotted deer while coming back to the parking lot from Mirror Lake trail.
Yosemite Falls are the tallest in North America and fifth tallest in the solar system with nearly twice the height of the Empire State Building.
You can get great visuals of the falls-Upper Fall, Middle Cascade, and Lower Fall from a number of places in Yosemite Valley.
A quick one mile loop will lead you to the base of Lower Yosemite Fall. If you want an up-close view of the falls, hike the 7 miles of trail that provide amazing outlooks of the entire Yosemite Valley. Of course, the best time to witness its beautify is between late fall and midsummer when the falls are flowing.
This is the view of Yosemite Valley you have been dreaming of. It showcases the immense grandeur of the granite walls surrounding the valley. We stopped here on our way out of the valley.
This photo-worthy viewpoint is incredibly accessible; just pass through the Wawona tunnel on Highway 41 , pull off into one of the parking lots, hop out of your car and take in the full magnificence of the Yosemite valley.
You can see everything from this vantage point, Half Dome in the far distance, El Capitan right on left, Bridal Veil Falls on the right, and the Yosemite Valley. To me, it absolutely looked like a Great Painting.
That drive on our way back to the SFO literally took my breath away. Fresh snow and the thousand-year-old trees, and the otherworldly rock formations and cliffs, nature of Yosemite is something you will never stop appreciating.
YOSEMITE HIGHLIGHT VIDEO
Check out a quick video highlights of our road trip to Yosemite National Park to get a feel for the magic of this place!
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
- Winter Guide: During winter, several roads are going to be closed and sightseeing may be limited but you are going to have the park all to yourself. Keep in mind you may need chains to access the park.
- Get to the Park Early: Starting early will help you avoid lines at the gate and beyond.
- Offline or Paper Maps: Cell phone signals are spotty, and at most points in the park, nonexistent. More significantly, you won’t be able to pull up a map with GPS, so make sure to keep a paper map on you, especially when driving or hiking on remote roads.
- Fuel Up Before You Get There: You can buy fuel for lower prices on any Yosemite-bound route before you head for the park.
- Annual Pass: The Yosemite National Park entry fee is charged per vehicle and is good for seven days. If your vacation plans include more than two national parks in a year, for for an annual pass.
I highly recommend to visit this place if the opportunity ever arises, no matter what time of year it is. Yosemite National Park is a true natural wonder whose beauty is unmatched.
If you are planning a day trip to Yosemite National Park, make sure Yosemite Valley is part of it as it is quite a small area that includes several of the key sites in Yosemite Park.
I hope this post gets you excited about visiting the Yosemite National Park in a safe way. If you think I have missed anything, just leave a comment on this post.
Also, don’t forget to visit the blog on my entire West coast trip.
#YosemiteNationalPark #UnitedStates #nationalPark #YosemiteFalls #BridalVeilFalls #TunnelView #Elcaption #HalfDome #StonemanMeadow #SwingingBridge #MirrorLake #YosemiteVillage