Yosemite National Park is a protected park since 1864. Within its nearly 1,200 square miles, you can find deep valleys, grand meadows, ancient giant sequoias, a vast wilderness area, and much more. We visited Yosemite in the summer of 2015. Since we also visited Sequoia Kings & Canyons, we skipped the lower part of Yosemite, at Mariposa, where you will find lots of giant trees.
Glacier Point road
We entered the park through the south entrance and first went down Glacier Point road for a breathtaking view of the valley. Although Glacier Point is the most famous panoramic point, we definitely preferred Washburn Point.
We returned to Wawona road for a visit to the valley. A famous (but busy) stop here is at Tunnel view’s. The view looks eastward into Yosemite Valley, and includes surrounding features, such as the southwest face of El Capitan on the left, Half Dome on axis, and Bridalveil Fall on the right.
For those who don’t like to hike: Bridalveil Falls is easy to reach. Just park your car and follow the signs that will lead you to the fall in about 500 meters. During summer, Bridalveil Falls is just a small stream. If you bring a visit in spring, it is supposed to be more impressive.
Lower Yosemite fall trail
Next stop was Lower Yosemite fall trail, again a very easy hike. The view is great, the mass tourism really is not. During the high season the valley is just packed with people and to get from one point to another will take a lot of time because of heavy traffic. Although the valley is really beautiful, this was too much for us. We decided to go to our hotel and go up North next day, where we left mass tourism behind us.
We stayed in the best hotel ever: the Red Tail Ranch in Groveland, home of Kevin and Deborah. The 5 star rating on Trip Advisor says enough: this place was heaven! The people, the ranch, the dogs and horses, the hot tub on the hill where you can enjoy the view or look at the stars at night. Need I say more? We spend our evenings in the town center, at the Iron Door Saloon which is supposed to be one of the oldest saloons of California. Great burgers, beers and live music. A great place to hang out. Looking for a more fancy place? Try the restaurant at Hotel Charlotte.
Groveland is perfect for a visits to Yosemite; it was not that far to get from the hotel to the park entrance again. This time, we followed the road up north and made a first stop at Olmsted Point, where you will have a great view on the back of the half dome. Bring a sweater; also during summer it gets chilly up here.
Next stop was Tenaya Lake, beautiful but really cold! Swimming here is only for the brave ones. We also saw a lot of people just chilling at the beach or explore the lake by boat. Both the valley and the northern area are great for people who like to climb.
One of the largest high-elevation meadows in the Sierra Nevada, Tuolumne Meadows at 8,600 feet has been also among the most visible to past pioneers and present visitors scientists. Within Tuolumne Meadows, visitors see the Tuolumne River meandering quietly through its meadow channel and cascading over the granite river bottom against a backdrop of rugged mountain peaks and glacially carved domes. The Meadows are a great starting point for a hike.
A trip to the Soda Springs is about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) and will take you about 1 hour. Begin at Lembert Dome parking area, walk along the gravel road and pass the locked gate. Soda Springs—carbonated, cold water bubbling out of the ground—is protected within a log enclosure. Historic Parsons Memorial Lodge offers exhibits. A path winds to the bridge below and continues on to the Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center.
Up north we really left mass tourism behind us and spotted a lot of wildlife, from deers to rodents and marmots.