Our California journey continues. We drove about 4 hours east of Monterey to encounter the majestic views as we entered Yosemite. Thick forests, waterfalls, and granite walls... the incredible beauty of the park had us often saying “it’s a façade”.
Upon arriving at the Yosemite Valley Lodge we quickly set out to explore some of the nearby attractions and become acquainted with the activities we wanted to do over the next couple of days.
The Lodge left a lot to be desired. The location is fantastic and it has a very large pool. However, the rooms are very dark and dated. Unfortunately, if you want to enjoy the park there are only two hotel options in the valley, the Lodge and the Majestic Hotel. The third option is staying in one of the camp grounds. If you choose to stay outside the valley it could take a very long time to drive in due to the heavy traffic. The best tip I can give you is to stay in the valley, park your car, and don’t move it for the rest of your stay. The park is very crowded in the summer and parking is at a premium. Shuttles run all day long in the valley that will take care of all your transportation needs.
Our first big outing in Yosemite was a hike to Vernal Falls. This is listed as one of the strenuous hikes in the park. It definitely was strenuous but completely doable round trip in about 3.5 hours. We hiked up via Mist Trail. The views were incredible, we even spotted a beautiful rainbow at the bottom of the falls. Once you reach the top of Vernal Falls you have several options. You can continue to Nevada Falls for a few more hours of hiking, you can go down the same way you came up via Mist Trail (a little dangerous since you’ll be going down granite steps which are very slippery due to the mist from the falls), or take the longer route back via the John Muir Trail. After the long hike we enjoyed lunch and a couple of hours at the pool to cool down!
On the morning of our second full day in Yosemite we enjoyed a short hike to the beautiful Mirror Lakeand a very nice brunch at the Majestic Hotel. In the afternoon we headed out on a raft on the Merced River. This is a great way to spend a relaxing couple of hours floating down the river and taking in some really magnificent views of the park.
Yosemite was a wonderful experience. Although I was not impressed with the accommodations or the food offerings in the restaurants, the beauty of our surroundings more than made up for it. So as long as you have those expectations and just enjoy the natural beauty of this amazing place you will love visiting Yosemite.
Stay tuned for the final leg of our trip - San Francisco and Napa Valley!
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I work with my clients on creating personalized travel itineraries while consulting on everything from destinations to excursions and logistics of the trip. Through my personal travel I seek unique activities including private guides and tours for exceptional experiences. More on Belkys