An icon of America’s majestic natural beauty, California’s Yosemite National Park welcomes millions of visitors each year—drawn to its dramatic waterfalls, giant sequoias, abundant wildlife, and awe-inspiring cliffs, like Half Dome and El Capitan. Whether you’re looking for the adventure vacation of a lifetime, want to immerse yourself in the stillness of nature—or simply hike, backpack or ski in one of the most beautiful places on earth, you’ll find your place in Yosemite.
We visited this gorgeous park in summer and here is our Travelogue
At the western entrance to Yosemite Valley, Tunnel View is a must-do stop, no matter which direction you approach the park from. Here you can take photos of the most famous panorama of Yosemite Valley, perfectly framed by a forest of pine trees and wide-open skies above. On your right is Bridalveil Fall, plunging off granite cliffs. To the left is the iconic granite rock formation of El Capitan, with Half Dome rising in the background. During peak waterfall season in May, you might spy several more short-lived lacy cascades dropping steeply off the sides of the lushly carpeted valley, too.
The easiest trail in Yosemite, Washburn point is more of a pit stop than an actual hiking trail. But, if you are driving down Glacier Point Road, it’s definitely worth the stop and the 20 stair steps or so to see this gorgeous vantage point. For many, Washburn Point is where they get their first glimpse of Half Dome; so, if you want to experience that eye-popping moment, give it a chance. You won’t regret it! Other views include Glacier Point, Illouette Falls, and Yosemite Valley, though you won’t be able to see Yosemite Falls from here.
Arguably the most spectacular view in the park is at the end of Glacier Point Rd, about an hour’s drive from the valley. Here you can gaze out across the Sierra Nevada high country, with the curved tooth of Half Dome prominently in the foreground. If you walk just a short distance down the Panorama Trail, you might have this epic view, which also includes Vernal and Nevada Falls, almost all to yourself. Full moon nights are a magical time to visit Glacier Point, where John Muir and US President Teddy Roosevelt once camped out. Note Glacier Point Road is usually closed beyond the Badger Pass ski area from November until late May or early June.
Lower Yosemite Falls
Lower Yosemite Fall drops 400 feet from a rocky ledge on the north side of Yosemite Valley to the flat forested land below, after which the creek flows gently through the pine woods for a few hundred yards and joins the Merced River. Although audible from some distance away, the falls are hidden by trees from most places in the immediate vicinity and only when close can a good view be obtained.
White waters of Yosemite Creek crash down from the cliffs above – or at least they do in winter, spring and early summer, but most years see the creek dry up completely by late summer
For a whopping dose of scenic beauty, nothing beats a drive along high-altitude Tioga Road to Tioga Pass, about a two-hour drive from the valley. Almost every bend in road brings you another literally breath-taking view. The most famous viewpoint is at Olmsted Point, from where you can peer down into Yosemite Valley and get a unique perspective on iconic Half Dome. You can see the view right from the road’s overlook, or for a more glorious view as shown above, hike the shortest trail in Yosemite (0.2 miles). Bring your binoculars – you can watch hikers go up the back of Half Dome. Note: Tioga Road is closed during the winter season.
Tenaya Lake is an alpine lake in Yosemite National Park, located between Yosemite Valley and Tuolumne Meadows.The panorama of Sierra Nevada peaks from the shores of alpine Tenaya Lake is another classic postcard shot, also off Tioga Road in the park’s high country. Tenaya Lake was created by the Tenaya Glacier, which flowed out of the vast Tuolumne Ice Sheet and down to Yosemite Valley.This same glacier created Half Dome.The Tenaya Glacier was lightly loaded with debris, and did not leave a large amount of moraine material near Tenaya Lake.
Here are some fun facts about Yosemite
- President Abraham Lincoln named Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove as the United States’ first public reserve.
- John Muir was one of the pioneers of promoting the protection of this area. He founded the Sierra Club to accomplish his goals.
- Half Dome was created due to the interaction of the glaciers with the underlying rocks making it a good example of an exfoliation dome.
- While popular, hiking Half Dome is quite challenging at the end since hikers need to ascend the final 400 feet via cables.
- El Capitan is the world’s largest granite monolith (over 3000 ft. above the valley floor) and a favorite for rock climbing experts.
- Yosemite Falls is the tallest waterfall in North America and third largest worldwide with a 2425 ft. drop. During winter, you can see an ice cone on top of the falls.
- Despite its name, Mirror Lake is more of a pond. You can watch reflections of Half Dome and Mt. Watkins on its surface during spring as long as the water level is high.
- The meadows and wetlands are the perfect place to catch a glimpse of Yosemite’s flora and fauna.
- The Mariposa Grove’s Giant Sequoias are the largest known living things on the plant. They are also some of the oldest with most being 3000 years old.
- While Yosemite is spread across 760,000 acres (1200 sq. miles), most visitors only move around 7 sq. miles of the Yosemite Valley.
- The black bears that live in Yosemite aren’t as black as you think. Their coats have shades of brown, red and white.
Text & References: Travel Yosemite & My Yosemite Park Website, http://yosemite-park.org/fun-facts/
More information about Vista Points: http://www.itoda.com/photos/yosemite/vista-points.html
See more pics from trip in below gallery