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Visit Yosemite National Park!

Updated on September 7, 2014

Yosemite National Park, The Experience of a Lifetime!

Yosemite is hands down one of the most amazing places I have ever been. I have lived in California for most of my life, and am continuously surprised to find people who have not visited yet. Lately I find myself encouraging friends and family to go see Yosemite for themselves! It only took my husband and I 6 hours to make the drive, but people travel from all over the world to see the amazing national park.

What draws over 3.7 million people a year to Yosemite National Park? (NPS Stats) Yosemite actually encompasses 761,268 acres, but most visitors spend their time in Yosemite Valley, which is 7 square miles (Wikipedia).

Camping, hiking, rock climbing, wildlife and enjoying the serene atmosphere are all worthwhile, but what sets Yosemite National Park apart from the rest of the world are the sheer granite cliffs, Giant Sequoias and breathtaking waterfalls.

During my stay I camped at the Wawona campground, along the Merced River. Next time I plan on reserving a camping site in Yosemite Valley. The minimal entrance and camping fees make for an inexpensive and spectacular trip, especially for those, such as myself, that can drive to Yosemite!

All Photos by MandyStradley

Driving Into Yosemite Valley

What a view! I had to display this photo again (in all its glory). As you drive towards Yosemite Valley you head through a tunnel and then BAM you come out and get to see this!! Amazing! On the left is El Capitan, and on the right in the distance you can see Half Dome. Pictures do not do this view justice- you need to see this for yourself!

El Capitan

This photo of majestic El Capitan was taken in Yosemite Valley. The granite monolith is a favorite for rock climbers! Some kind folks let us take a peek through their telescope to see rock climbers scaling the sheer cliff!

Ansel Adams - Famous Yosemite Photographer

Yosemite National Park has a free gallery next to the Visitor's Center where you can view famous Ansel Adams photographs. You can even sign up to take a photography class in the park (for a fee). Ansel Adams photos are wonderful, and the gallery is a must see!

Our Itinerary Highlights

Visit Sentinel Dome

Visit Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias

Drive to Yosemite Valley's Visitor's Center

Visit Yosemite Fall (via shuttle stop #6)

Walk to Mirror Lake/Meadow (via shuttle stop #17)

Hike via the Mist Trail to the top of Nevada Fall (via shuttle stop #16)

Visit Bridalveil Fall

On Top Of Sentinel Dome

One of the first stops we made was to Sentinel Dome, which has an elevation of 8,127 ft! The large granite dome is on the south wall of Yosemite Valley, and it offers wonderful panoramic views. The hike to the dome is about 1 mile and well worth it! (Wikipedia) Look out for thunder clouds!

Half Dome View From Sentinel Dome - Can you tell why it is called Half Dome?

Amazing view from Sentinel Dome! This was my first view of Half Dome and I was in awe. One day I would love to get a permit and hike to the top of Half Dome!

View of Half Dome, Vernal Fall, and Nevada Fall from Sentinel Dome

More breathtaking views from Sentinel Dome! On the left is Half Dome, and on the right you should be able to make out two waterfalls. Vernal Fall is the lower fall and the upper fall is Nevada Fall. The following pictures will show our hike to the top of Nevada Fall!

Giant Sequoias

Another national park I recommend is Sequoia National Park; however, you can see giant sequoias at Yosemite too! We saw giant sequoias in the Mariposa Grove, near the South Entrance of Yosemite National Park.

Yosemite Fall- Just a Trickle - Still Beautiful!

During certain times of the year many of the waterfalls at Yosemite National Park have varying levels of water. Some of the better known waterfalls such as Yosemite Fall tend to reach peak runoff in May or June. If you are visiting specifically to see the waterfalls you may want to consider going to Yosemite in late May. (National Park Service)

Wildlife - Mule Deer at Mirror Lake/Meadow

We had many opportunities to spot mule deer around Yosemite Valley. They love to spend time in the meadows.

Yosemite Hiking

Have you hiked to the top of Half Dome?

See results

Hiking To Vernal Fall - 318'

We followed the Mist Trail to hike to the top of Vernal Fall and then continued to the top of Nevada Fall. Hiking both falls along the Mist Trail is 5.4 miles and includes a 2000 foot elevation gain. Many hikers continue from Nevada Falls to summit Half Dome (14 mile round trip, permit required). Every year hikers get swept away and killed along the Mist Trail. Pay attention to no swimming signs and keep an eye on young hikers. These accidents are avoidable!

For more information on day hikes in Yosemite Valley visit the (National Park Services website).

Close Up View of Vernal Fall - Notice the Rainbow!

Vernal Fall is gorgeous, and still has plenty of water flowing in August.

Stellars Jay

These little beauties were hanging out at the top of Vernal Fall!

Nevada Fall - 594'

I'm still surprised that I made it to the top of that!

Side View of Nevada Fall

The Top of Nevada Fall!

Many hikers relax at the top of Nevada Fall. There was even a working restroom when I was there.

Fancy a Ride?

Visitors can enjoy scenic rides at Yosemite National Park (for a fee).

Yosemite Guides

Yosemite National Park On The Web

Yosemite National Park's official website is a great resource to plan your trip. You will find a wide variety of information to plan your visit. You will want to consider what time of the year you would like to go. I went in August, but next time I will most likely go during the springtime to see more water flow at the falls. Plan your visit in advance because reservations go quickly!

Did You Know?

The free Yosemite Valley shuttle system provides convenient access around Yosemite Valley.

Do You Love National Parks Too? What's Your Favorite?

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    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 3 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      Beautiful photos. Makes me want to go back to Yosemite! It has to be one of my favorites too! Glacier NP in Montana and the Olympic NP in Washington are way up there on my list too!

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 3 years ago from Colorado

      Gorgeous photos. I will definitely visit Yosemite N.P. I have several national parks that are favorites. Zion N.P., Canyonland N.P., Padre Island National Seashore, Arches N.P. So many beautiful parks yet to see.

    • profile image

      Namsak 3 years ago

      My favourite national park is the Queen Elizabeth park which includes Loch Lomond and many lovely hills but I sure would like to visit Yosemite.

    • goldenrulecomics profile image

      goldenrulecomics 3 years ago

      We visited Yosemite in 1991 -- and got caught in an early snowstorm! Beautiful place...

    • profile image

      RaniaCalvenea 4 years ago

      I've seen Zion and Joshua Tree, both are great. I'd like to go to others!

    • profile image

      TanoCalvenoa 4 years ago

      I so love Yosemite, it may be my favorite National Park. Climbing to the top of Half Dome when I was 15 years old is one of the best things I've ever done.