Being surrounded by nature truly makes me happy. The perfect vacation for me, to be enveloped by nature’s gifts…the mountains,the rivers, the lakes…the forests… And National Parks fit the bill as they offer the best of nature.
This time I head to California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, where lies the Yosemite National Park, one of the most popular and spectacular national parks in America, famous for its giant sequoias, towering waterfalls and massive granite cliffs…
There are four entrances to the park and if you are getting there by car, make sure you stop by the visitor center.GPS may be your best friend elsewhere, but don’t take the risk here. Follow the road signs to your desired spot. Admission fee to the park is $30 per vehicle and is valid for seven days.
- Beat the crowd by arriving early.
- Walk or take the free shuttle within the Yosemite Valley instead of driving. The car lanes go slow because of heavy traffic.
THINGS TO SEE
Tunnel View: Big granite rock formations are hallmarks of Yosemite and the best place to view them is from Glacier Point or Tunnel View. From here you can see El Capitan, Bridalveil Falls, and Half Dome.
The Waterfalls – Yosemite Falls is a major attraction of the park, it being the highest waterfall in North America. Also not to be missed, the Vernal Falls, Bridalveil Fall and Nevada Falls. Your best bet to see these waterfalls is spring or you would miss them like I did during the summertime.
Half Dome and El Capitan – These two are the most iconic granite formations of Yosemite. You have the grandest monoliths on earth right here in Yosemite. You can view the El Capitan from Tunnel View or up close at the El Capitan Meadow in Yosemite Valley.
Half Dome clearly stands out in Yosemite, there isn’t anything like it. Been declared “perfectly inaccessible” until 1875, it is still one of the most difficult and prestigious hikes in the United States. But even if you are not to climb the summit, you can view it from Glacier Point.
Yosemite Valley- Even though it is a small part of the National Park, it is a must see, even the Valley visitor center has claimed it to be spectacular. All the famous icons like the waterfalls, El Capitan, Half Dome, etc. are to be found here. You can walk through the El Capitan Meadow, take pictures at Sentinel Bridge and see the Yosemite Falls, soak your feet in Mirror Lake and on your way out of Yosemite Valley, stop at Valley View alongside the Merced River.
Glacier Point: This was the highlight of my trip to Yosemite. Being the highest point in the park accessible by car, Glacier Point offers the most breathtaking views of the valley, Yosemite Falls and the Half Dome. The drive from Yosemite Valley to Glacier Point can easily take an hour. Be mindful of other people as the overlook can get crowded near sunset time.
It is magical watching the changing light on Half Dome as the sun sets. This is the place to sit and enjoy the views. I was in awe of the beauty and the magnitude of everything in front of me. If there had to be a place to get all deep and Nirvana like, THIS is it. I am not kidding.
Best places for photography: Tunnel View and Glacier Point offer great photography opportunities. Go to Glacier Point at sunset and you will be surrounded by photographers.
Yosemite is one of those places that left me speechless, awestruck and emotionally grounded at the same time. To say the least, I wanted a little hut overlooking the valley. It is fair to say that going to Yosemite has been one of the most surreal experience of my life.