Just back from: Yosemite National Park
Tell us more… My parents were visiting from Florida and we decided to spend two days and one night exploring Yosemite National Park as a quick getaway from the bustle of San Francisco. I knew that summer is an extremely busy time of year to visit, but with the National Park Centennial celebration approaching and my parents having limited time to visit, we decided to go for it. We stayed at Tenaya Lodge (tenayalodge.com) in Fish Camp, California, located about 45 minutes south of the park.
Defining moment? Driving in that first evening as the sun was setting and laying eyes on the landscape from the Tunnel View lookout point near the entrance of the park. From this spot you can see El Capitan and Half Dome, two iconic Yosemite granite mountains, as well as Bridalveil Fall and the dense, sprawling forest below. The dramatic contrast between the grey mountains and the vibrant green wilderness against the cloudless blue skies was an unforgettable sight.
Fridge magnet or better? We stopped at the Ansel Adams Gallery inside the park for some retro postcards and prints. He was an advocate for wilderness protection and spent his life documenting Yosemite, eventually establishing a photography studio in the Valley.
Quintessential experience? Dining in The Majestic Yosemite Hotel Dining Room (formerly the Ahwahnee Dining Room). The hotel is located in the center of the park so we parked our car here and used the shuttle to get around before heading back for lunch. The whole lodge (especially the dining room) has a vintage, rustic ambience – very old-school and very Yosemite.
The best views are… Short answer: everywhere. But Glacier Point offers up a spectacular view of the entire Yosemite Valley floor (which actually looks very small from this angle) as well as all of the mountains that loom over the park. Gazing up from the splash-zone base of Bridalveil Fall makes for a picture-perfect scene as well.
If you do one thing… Take the convenient (and free) park shuttle, or drive the entire length of the park, stopping for pictures along the way (there is no shortage of photo ops here). We grabbed a map that illustrated only the main highlights and checked them off as we drove in a large loop taking in all the sights.
It’s easy to be overwhelmed with all that Yosemite has to offer, especially on an overnight trip. Get up early and beat the crowds (our 5:30am wake-up call was rough but worth it), tackle a hike (Mirror Lake was perfect for us), and soak up the incredible beauty of Yosemite.
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