Yosemite is one of my favorite US National Parks to visit. Coming from Central Oregon, it's easy to think the scenery can’t much better. We have mountains…but these are MOUNTAINS!
Within the first 30 minutes of walking through the park, you pass through a valley. Around one corner, you'll see a tall waterfall through granite boulders. Before reaching a long rock textured tunnel, you catch your first glimpse of Yosemite Valley. You see Bridalveil Falls and Half Dome in the distance.
We spent a few hours in the visitor center learning about the native animals and how the the valley was carved out. They teach you about the glacier episodes and how the granite monuments were formed. Most of the pictures in the museum were actually hand painted! (This isn’t something they mentioned, but it is always great to see special works of art.) Near the exit, you can go outside and view authentic teepees, a ceremonial hut, and sweat lodge. They still use these structures for ceremonial purposes.
After wandering through the visitor center, we backtracked to Bridalveil falls. It's a 5 minute walk up a paved road to the base of the falls. It's 620 feet tall! This is open to the public all year round, and is so spectacular to see up close.
On the road out of the park, you go past El Capitan again. On the opposite side, you'll see another large rock. Though it might not seem like the most interesting field in the world to get out of your car for, the field was covered in millions of lady bugs! We went out to play our ukuleles, enjoy the hot sun beating down, and look at El Capitan. We wondered where all the lady bugs came from. If you catch this area before sunset, you'll see a large shadow cast along the field (see photos).
Yosemite is certainly a place you must see! The entire trip was planned on a whim, because my friend Addison had not been there. We left a week later. My most important advice would be to PLAN AHEAD. We went in the off season, but every camp was entirely full!
I would like to thank Cascadia Vehicle Tents for supplying us with such a compact and comfortable car tent. We wouldn’t have made it through the weekend well-rested and toasty warm without your amazing tent!
Bring a bike if you can. Parking will be difficult, but all scenic locations are close enough to bike to. There are sidewalks lining the entire park and are tricycle friendly!
Book your camping site early. Though this is the off season and most camps have closed down, many Californians will still be making the trek to Yosemite. We ended up camping in Napa Valley because all sites were filled before noon.
Dress in layers. We're from high desert mountains, so we're prepared for the cold and ice. In the sun it was quite hot, but the valley casts down such drastic shadows during the day, so it can get quite chilly.
Bring binoculars! A nice man saw us looking at El Capitan and handed us binocular. There were at least 20 climbers that we couldn’t see with our bare eyes!
Bring your camera!