In the book Our National Parks, John Muir wrote, ” Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flow into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” I visited Yosemite for the first time earlier this year and I know exactly what John Muir was saying. Even though you are not far from the madding crowd but out there you are one with nature. You could spend several hours just watching the trees tower over head. Every time I get ready to leave and return to the rut of everyday life, I remind myself to come back one more time. If I were you, I would be already be packing my bags to go there, but not before reading this guide to the Yosemite National Park.
What is Yosemite and where is it?
If you live in the United States you’ve probably heard of Yosemite. For the uninitiated, Yosemite is a National park, nestled in the Sierra Nevada ranges in California and was declared as a World Heritage Site in 1864. It stretches for almost 1200 square miles and encompasses giant Sequoias, mighty cliffs, majestic waterfalls and crystal lakes.
What are my options for accommodation?
From an AAA 4 diamond hotel to lodges to campsites and tent cabins there is something to suit every pocket in Yosemite.
The Majestic Yosemite Hotel has played host to some famous people since it was built in 1927 such as Queen Elizabeth II, Barrack Obama, Charlie Chaplin, Gertrude Stein, Ronald Reagan, Steve Jobs, Walt Disney to name a few.
The Yosemite Valley Lodge with its proximity to the Yosemite Falls and other top destinations and with convenient dining and general store options close by is quite popular among families.
The Half Dome Village was founded in 1899 with an aim to create affordable lodging in Yosemite. With its assortment of private cabins and canvas tent cabins with stunning views of the Half Dome and Glacier Point, it is the most affordable lodging provided in the Yosemite Valley and one of its most popular.
Of course for the people who want to rough it up and live amongst that beautiful entity we call nature, there are 500 campsites available with RV campsites available at every campground.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of all the accommodation provided at Yosemite but it should give you a fair idea of the options available. Of course, since reservations for most accommodations open up a year in advance, it is entirely possible that all the lodging is unavailable by the time you try to book, especially in the summer months. People generally try to stay in El Portal, Groveland or Merced and then drive into the park during the day.
Being with nature is all good, but what can I do there?
Hiking, Rock Climbing, Backpacking, Camping, Guided Tours, Water Sports, Winter Sports, Photo ops, Bird Watching, there is something for everyone at Yosemite. It’s a place where people of all ages and from all walks of life can find something to unwind and relax. My two year loved the place as much as we loved it. This is a big WIN for me because as a parent I want my child to be enthralled to by all the wonder that the outside world has to offer rather than be engaged by the television.
What are the points of interest?
Though the entire Yosemite National park is breathtakingly beautiful, there are a few points you wouldn’t want to miss. Yosemite Falls, Tunnel View, Valley View, Tuolumne Meadows, Glacier Point, Bridalveil Falls, Half Dome and El Capitan are all a must-visit. A thing to note is that a lot of these points are not accessible during winter or early spring.
What is the best time to visit the park?
While we are on the topic of weather, you might be wondering what is the ideal weather to be visiting Yosemite. Summers are by far the most popular season with the crowds thronging to see the park in full bloom. But don’t be so quick to write off a winter visit. Yes it’s plenty cold and yes a lot of the areas are not accessible but you also get to witness a white Yosemite. Also because there are far fewer people in the park during winters, it is calmer, quieter and much more serene. I’ve now been to Yosemite National Park in prime summer and in the deep winters, and I liked the winter Yosemite better.
When the woods beckon, there’s nothing much left to do but to answer their call. I hope this guide inspires you to go ahead and plan your next vacation to Yosemite National park and savor all the beauty that has it to offer.
There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more,