Yosemite National Park

3644229446_0e92c64a59_m.jpg Yosemite National Park is a place you have to visit if you have the opportunity to. It is located to the east of the bay area, about three-four hours drive. It is a place with incredible nature you can really enjoy. There are different approach to visit Yosemite, depending how sporty you are and if you like hiking, climbing etc…

I'll provide some general hints I learned from my visiting the national park. Make sure you plan the tour at home, not as you are there, since the distances are long. It is worth to spend another two hours for saving then two days in the park and see much more…

Getting there and staying for sleep

The most convenient way to get there is by car. On the entrance to the park you pay 20$ per vehicle and get a pass valid for seven days. Using this pass you can reenter Yosemite as many times as you wish. I recommend to start the viewing early in the morning. So if you reason to travel directly from the Bay area - start early. I think it is better to travel in the evening, and start discovering early in the morning. I stopped at Sonora (Alladin Road Motel), but you could stop closer to the park on the Hwy 120, e.G. in Groveland. You can also stop in Yosemite itself, which is much more expensive. You could also bring you own tent and camp on one of the camping places in the park.

Planing the routes

There are many tours and routes through Yosemite park. These are described in isolation and it is hard to predict, how to combine them… A very nice web page is http://www.yosemitehikes.com/. Check it out for more information. In the following I provide a basic summary of places to visit:

Glacier Point

3642987125_d7402528c0_m.jpg A wonderful spot, from which you can see the entire valley and the mountains around. Basically there are several ways to get there: hiking up Four-Mile-Trail or Panorama Trail (difficult for a non-trained person), go by bus, go by car. From my experience, you don't want to hike up, since you have to complete the elevation gain of almost about 1km which is not easy for beginners. If you take a bus (which goes from the Village - check times) you will be able to go the trails down (which is Ok for an average-condition person). Finally, you can skip waking but just drive there with you car, park, look around and drive back. (If you have more than one car you can hike down and pick-up the car later).

Vernal Fall

3644236236_f8567ece3a_m.jpg Incredible waterfall (in summer). If you are able to hike a little bit - it is worth to go here. You start at bus stop 16 (bus from the village) and hikes up a trail. The entire elevation gain is around 300 meters (to the top of the fall). You can get there by running the Mist trail up or from Glacier Point the Panorama trail down. I did the hike from the village up, and I'm not an experienced hiker. Then you can continue to go up to Nevada falls or return back (over Clark's point, Following John Muir Trail).

Nevada Fall

3643476851_4519ae6ca3_m.jpg Even from the top of Vernal falls you can see this beautiful waterfall (at least in summer). To get there you have to complete another 300 meters from the top of Vernal falls. You can decide if you want to go there at the top of Vernal falls. So if you start early, you can be at the top of Vernal falls around mid day, make a rest and continue climbing. There is no other way down, then the same you go up. I didn't make it, but decided to go to the Clark's point and went down John Muir Trail (that takes another hour and a half).

Giant Sequoias

A very interesting place on the other south side of the park (Consider that you need another day for it.) If you enter the park from the west, you have to go to Wawona, and it takes you around 2 hours to get there. Make sure to start early, because the parking lot gets full quickly.

East Yosemite

3644084654_a01aee96a9_m.jpg If you don't go to the village, but follow the Hwy 120 to the east, you will get to a completely different part of Yosemite. Here there are much less tourists, and the nature seems cooler and tougher. Since the road goes up to the elevation of 3km, expect snow and cold temperatures, even in summer. There are beautiful lakes and canyons in this part of the park. It takes you around 2 hours to reach the eastern end of the park. You can exit the park and will reach Lee Vining on the coast of the Mono Lake, where you could stay for night. Check out the Mobil Gas Stateion in Lee Vinning to get some food, which is really good and delicious. If you have another half a day on the east of Sierra Nevada, go to Bodie - an abandonned gold miners city - it is really worth to see it.

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