Located: California - Established: October 1, 1890
The Park. Yosemite! Those of you who have visited any number of our country’s National Parks will most likely have a favorite. For me…it’s Yosemite! Perhaps because it was the first park I was introduced to when I was a youngster. Then again, as Galen Clark suggests, this park, and its staggering natural beauty is the consummate Outdoor Cathedral! Yosemite is the spiritual home of John Muir, the conservationist who pined for places such as Yosemite to be preserved for the people for all time.
Carved by glaciers thousands of years ago, nature left behind a valley of almost incomprehensible beauty. As Mr. Clark summed up, looking out across the valley from Inspiration Point or Glacier Point will literally take your breath away. My favorite rock – Half Dome – is the park’s iconic granite ambassador. Then there’s the staggering steep face of El Capitan, which stands as guardian to those who enter the valley floor.
The sight of the many waterfalls that shower down from the mountaintops above will bring misty tears of joy to your eyes. Especially should you choose to hike up the Mist Trail to Vernal and Nevada Falls.
When to go: Yosemite is always open. When to go will be determined by what you are looking for in your Yosemite experience. Each season has its advantages. Our most tranquil experience was our visit in December.
Getting there: Yosemite is located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California approximately 60 miles north of Fresno. The park has 4 Entrance Stations: The Hetch Hetchy Station, TiogaPass (greeting visitors from the east off Hwy 395), South Entrance and Arch Rock.
What to do: There is plenty to do in this magnificent open-air theater! Here are a few of my favorite Yosemite memories: Half Dome – If you are fortunate to get a permit to climb to the top of Half Dome, you will experience one of life’s most exhilarating hikes! The final 400 feet are so steep, steel cables have been installed to assist your climb to the top!
Mist Trail – As you hike to Half Dome, be sure to take the Mist Trail. It follows the Merced River and treats you to a “misty” view of Vernal Falls.
From Glacier Point your view of Yosemite Valley 3200 feet below will be superlative. Gazing the skyline, the profile of Half Dome is picture perfect. Cloud’s Rest and Yosemite Falls majestically fill the frame. From this vantage point, you can retrace your steps past Vernal and Nevada Falls and relive your hike up the Mist Trail.
On a hot summer day, there is nothing more refreshing than to lazily float the Merced River.
Take in Inspiration Point before sunrise and observe the silhouettes of El Cap and Half Dome. (pictured)
One of the best ways to escape the crowds and experience Yosemite is to take a hike! There are hundreds of miles of hiking trails ranging from very easy hikes along the valley floor to very strenuous hikes up the granite walls of this fabulous park.
The Valley Loop Trail takes you through meadows, forests and along the Merced River with excellent views of El Cap and many of the park’s waterfalls.
Where to stay: Lodging in Yosemite ranges from simple tent cabins to the luxurious hotels. In addition, there are 13 campgrounds located inside the park offering over 1400 available campsites.
Memorable moments: Staying at the Ahwahnee Hotel (now called the Majestic Yosemite Hotel) in winter. Camping at White Wolf. Hiking the Mist Trail on our way to the top of Half Dome. Experiencing sunrise at Inspiration Point. The list goes on!
Trivia: In 1864, to protect Yosemite Valley from over settlement, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Act of Congress transferring the Yosemite Valley to the state of California.
Banner: View from Inspiration Point as you enter Yosemite Valley.
Experience these Check List:
- Stop by any of the park's three main Visitor Centers
- Experience Inspiration Point
- Gaze in awe at El Cap and Half Dome
- Trek Tuolumne Meadows
- Explore Glacier Point
- Visit the Mariposa Grove
- View the waterfalls