Before I started researching for our California road trip I didn’t know much about Yosemite but the more I researched I realised we had to stop off here. After LA, Vegas and some time in the desert our next stop was Yosemite National Park. I was quite looking forward to seeing some green again after being in the desert!! As part of our travels around California we were driving from Furnace Creek to Yosemite in one stretch which was around a 5 hour drive. A beautiful 5 hour drive.
After miles and miles of empty, straight desert road the landscape becomes a bit more varied, before you know it you are driving through hilly, leafy surroundings again. When you approach Yosemite National Park you will have to pay a small fee to enter but it’s so worth it!
If, like me, you hadn’t heard much about Yosemite before, then the best way I could describe it to you is that it’s like the Lake District on steroids. When we entered the park, we still had about an hour’s drive to reach Half Dome Village where we were going to be staying for two nights. You will quickly find that this one hour drive can quite easily turn into two or three hours. There are so many pretty points to stop off at, it is impossible not to pause to take in such beautiful views.
When we reached Half Dome Village it was about 4:30pm so we checked in and couldn’t wait to check out our tent! Yes I said tent!! But when I say tent, we didn’t have to struggle and put up our own, they are permanent wooden structured tents with heaters! As Half Dome Village is situated on the valley floor it is lovely and warm during the day but it can get extremely cold when the sun goes down.
After checking in and dumping our bags we explored the local area and scoped out somewhere to eat and plan our next two days in the park. The best place to settle down for some dinner is at the pizza bar.
On the first morning we had an early start as we wanted to do a walk to Vernal Fall, following on to Nevada Falls. As we went late September and it had been a particularly dry year, these were the only two waterfalls flowing still. There was no question about it – I needed to see a waterfall and Tom was happy as it was quite a long (and steep) walk.
It took about an hour to reach Vernal Falls following the Mist Trail from Half Dome Village. When we got there my hidden geography-geek self got the better of me and we did a little off path exploring to get closer to the waterfall. After a pause to take in the beautiful view we continued up to a spot called Silver Apron, a relatively flat rock surface were the water flows before dropping off of Vernal Falls edge. It’s a good spot to pause and have a snack if needed, but mind out for the cheeky little squirrels.
We carried on up the Mist Trail before joining the John Muir Trail to reach the top of Nevada Falls. From Vernal Falls it takes about another hour to reach the top of Nevada Falls. You will be so glad you carried on up to the second falls as the views are breathtaking. At 2000ft high no wonder!
From then onwards it was mostly downhill on the John Muir Trail back to Half Dome Village for some lunch. To get back to base it took us about another 2 hours. Once we had eaten and taken a short break we wanted to do a less strenuous walk in the afternoon, so we chose Mirror Lake/Meadows. Situated at the foot of Half Dome, I’d recommend this to anyone looking for a short, easy walk.
On our last day in Yosemite we decided to head to Taft Point before making our way to San Francisco. From Half Dome Village we stopped off at iconic Tunnel View before reaching Taft Point for a short walk. This should be on anyone’s list if you are planning a short trip to Yosemite, it is truly amazing. From Tunnel View you can see the whole of Yosemite Valley including Half Dome, El Capitan, Sentinel Dome and Bridalveil Falls.
Taft Point is another good view point, you can park up close to the start of the 1 mile trail. As you will see from the next pictures, I tried to get as close to the edge as possible but the 7500 feet drop was making me a little queasy.
Yosemite National Park was truly breath-taking. It’s such a huge place you can go back time and time again to see something different but, I don’t know why anyone would get bored at all with such stunning views. One to add to your list if you enjoy nature and a good hike to a view point. Leave a comment if you have any questions or want to know more.