Thursday, March 19, 2020

Yosemite National Park, CA

Imposing granite mountains, lush greenery, roaring waterfalls, and towering trees - Yosemite National Park in California has it all! It's no wonder this destination consistently makes the top 10 national parks destinations and boasts around 4 million visitors every year.

Mountain Trio

What You Need to Know

Due to busyness in the summer and road closures during the Fall, Spring, and Winter, finding just the right window to visit is important. We went in mid May and it was pretty much perfect. There were a couple of road closures, but it was mainly for the more remote areas of the park that will be of greater interest to serious campers and hikers. It didn't impact us at all.

For lodging, we decided to stay in Evergreen Lodge, which is in very close proximity to the park. There are also lodging and camping options within the park itself, but they can fill up very quickly. Of course, you can always stay outside the park, as well, but it adds to the drive time every day. I cannot recommend Evergreen enough. The restaurant was stellar, our cabin was the perfect blend of rustic charm and comfort, and there were lots of neat bonuses such as the game room and the natural playground.

Evergreen Lodge Playground

As for food, we ate at our lodge restaurant twice a day and in the park for lunch. As per our usual, we took snacks and water with us for the in between times. HOWEVER, it's important to note that bears are a very real threat at Yosemite so it's not recommended you keep food in your car! Take only the snacks you can keep on you and leave the rest back in your room.

Check the park website for updated information on transportation. There are shuttles servicing some areas of the park. Since it wasn't busy when we went, we preferred to drive ourselves. This worked very well for us for the time of year we went. Another thing to note about transportation - larger vehicles such as RVs are limited as to where they can go due to the steep and narrow roads.

As with many of the larger national parks, Yosemite can easily occupy you for a week. But, if you only have a day or two it's still absolutely worth a visit! I'd recommend concentrating on Yosemite Valley. Start at the Visitor's Center and check in with a ranger for up-to-date info on closures or warnings. Rangers are also great for giving recommendations!

We spent the day working our way around the loop. After the Visitor's Center, we hiked Lower Yosemite Falls, then Mirror Lake, and finally Bridalveil Falls. If you follow the loop around, you'll find lots of pull-outs for picture-taking opportunities. We ate lunch in the valley since everything there is nice and close.

Bridalveil Falls

Covered Bridge

Mirror Lake

Mirror Lake Trail

Yosemite Falls

Day 2 was supposed to be devoted to the Southern portion of the park, Mariposa Grove, but it was absolutely pouring. Mariposa Grove is known for it's sequoias, but since we were planning on visiting Sequoia National Park anyway, we decided to cut our losses and head on out to get away from the rain.

Additional Resources

Learn about the Jr. Ranger booklet requirements here.

More NPS resources here.

National Park lesson plans here, courtesy of PBS.