Updated: Jun 10
Wow, our new favorite national park. It was spectacular. May was a great month to visit, the weather was warm and sunny and the many waterfalls were raging.
At three million visitors a year, Yosemite is extremely popular and on many lists as one of the "must see" national parks. It is 1200 square miles but most of the activity takes place in the 8 square mile Yosemite Valley. The sights here are iconic, there's El Capitan - the largest slab of granite in the world, Half Dome - another large chunk of granite, Yosemite Falls - the tallest fall in North America and the Tunnel View - a vantage point where you can see El Capitan at one end of the valley and Half Dome at the other.
On Wednesday, May 25th we drove the Jeep 78 miles from the RV Park to the gated entrance at Yosemite and then drove another slow, winding 24 miles to the "Tunnel" which is one entrance to Yosemite Valley.
Photos below - the Tunnel and the view of the valley from the Tunnel parking area - El Capitan on one side and Bridalveil Fall with Half Dome in the distance on the other side of the valley.
We rode around the parking areas for 20 minutes and finally found a space. We started our hike at noon with an 8 miler - The Mist Trail to the John Muir Trail. The Mist Trail takes you to the Vernal Fall where it approaches at the bottom and then takes you up 600+ slippery, misty steps to the top of the falls ~
Stock photos of the 600+ steps to the top of the falls.
The Mist Trail continues on to the Nevada Fall ~
The trail took us up 2,000 feet in elevation and we made our way back down on the John Muir Trail. The hike and all of the photography took 4 hours and 20 minutes.
Video link to the hike on Relive ~
After a brief rest and some snacks we walked to Mirror Lake which is more of a pond than a lake. It is known for its reflections of Half Dome and Mount Watkins in spring, when the water level is high enough. A photo from the walk and two of Half Dome, the most iconic site of Yosemite, Half Dome is a granite formation that rises nearly 5,000 feet above the valley floor.
The reflection ~
Back in the Jeep we drove to the bottom of Yosemite Fall. This is the tallest waterfall in North America. Snow runoff cascades down the 2,425 foot drop, with peak flow in May.
Our final stop was close to El Capitan which is the largest monolith in the world. It rises more than 3,000 feet above the valley floor and is a favorite for experienced rock climbers.
Photos from the ride out of the park near sunset including a view of Bridalveil Fall ~
Wow, an amazing day. Sometime in the future we would like to return to spend an entire week here. There are hotels right in Yosemite Valley and others near the entrance. There are many hikes that are spectacular. We would especially love to do the hike to the top of Yosemite Fall.
Note: Both "fall" and "falls" are used for a single waterfall. Even the signage in the park and the National Park Service website use both.