Yosemite National Park has always been one of those places that I would dream about visiting. I would see many photos of the beautiful shaped granite mountains, scenic views, and cascading waterfalls all-in-one park. I would think to myself,.. one day I will get there!
Well that day arrived at the end of April 2018, when I talked my dad into taking a road trip with me that consisted of 5 national or state parks and one of them being Yosemite National Park. Could Yosemite be done in one day? Well considering that Tioga pass and Glacier point roads were closed until the end of May, I figured that there was still much to see, and depending on the crowds, we would be all to check out as much as possible.
Yosemite National Park is located in North East California and is famous for its plunging waterfalls and massive granite mountain faces. It’s nearly the size of Rhode Island and covers more than 1100 sq. miles. Nearly 4 million people Yosemite National Park every year which is one of the reasons why I have not been over there. I’m not a big fan of crowded national parks, but I couldn’t take a looking at pictures any longer, I had to go and see it for myself!
We stayed in the small town of Oakhurst in the rolling green hills of Northern California. It is about a 35 minute drive to the park and driving in through the South entrance consisted of very windy roads we rose as high as 8000ft in elevation with steep dropoffs and scenic views . As we got closer I got more excited and going through the tunnel we came to the 1st scenic spot which shows the whole valley. You can even see Bridal Viel Falls on the right of the park. Pure beauty!
Our next stop was the Bridal Veil falls and a very busy parking lot. We ended up parking along the side of the road and walked over. There are 2 ways to view these falls, one is with a raincoat because when you get to the base of the falls it is so misty and poweful that you will get wet! I opted out because of my camera equipment, but was able to catch another view.
Next stop was the view of El Capitan which is a 3000′ granite wall in the park and one of the obvious Yosemite mountains. It looks like someone cut a perfectly square slab of granite. I decided to take a little walk through the meadows near here and just happened to come across a pool of water with a magnificent reflection of Yosemite Falls! Jackpot! I was in photog heaven as these kind of shots don’t happen too often.
Now Speaking of Yosemite falls, that has to be one of the busiest waterfalls to view , but one that you can get up close to and feel the power and magnitude of the lower falls. Yosemite Falls has two large tiers and one small middle section. There is a hike that goes up to the Upper falls and you can get a great view that way. This time we opted to take the trail through the trees to the base of the Lower falls and the closer we got, the louder the falls became. Slowly rounding the corner, the waterfall came in sight and it didn’t disappoint! Now the challenging part is to get the shots without anyone in them as there were a whole bunch of tourists
and people climbing the rocks trying to get as close as they can to the falls.
A quick stop at the Yosemite village to get a bite to eat at the general store, and we were on our way to take a hike through the trees to Mirror lake, but unfortunately the road was closed to get to the start of the hike and we didnt think there was quite enough daylight time, so we just walked along the river and found some big Jeffery trees and a pretty chatty squirrel who didnt mind posing for a photo.
On the way out of the park, it was golden hour and the Sun highlighted the mountains with a warm gold tone and of course I had to stop to get a few photos of the Bridal Veil Falls which looked amazing in this light.
One final stop on the way out down the winding road was a beautiful pastel purple, pink and blue sunset. What a great picturesque finale to say the least!
All in all it was a wonderful day, a weekday which is recommended and the crowds weren’t as bad as I thought. The weather was beautiful (78f) and I was able to see as much as I could in one day. If Tioga pass and Glacier point roads were open, I would have wanted another day there to check them out and find a good hike to try. The only thing I was disappointed at was that the Mariposa Grove which has the giant Sequoia trees was not open because of road construction. I convinced my dad that we could go to Sequoia National Park and make up for that!
Whats the best time of year to go to Yosemite? I have heard that Spring is the best time to go to Yosemite if you are interested in seeing the power of the waterfalls. I would love to go back at different times of year to capture and experience Yosemite in different seasons , so count me in!