California Road Trip V: Yosemite Valley

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Summer day in the Yosemite

Adventurers and photographers have flocked to the Yosemite National Park since the late 19th century. We too couldn’t resist the temptation of seeing the famous glacier shaped peaks. Even with only one day to spare, we had a lot of fun.

During the time of our visit in August 2018, the park had just been reopened after devastating fires. Not all roads, including the route to Glacier point, were accessible. The scenery still remained breath-taking though.

Yosemity El Capitan

We entered from the west using Hwy 140 and drove with many photo-stops through the U-shaped valley to Yosemite Village. Due to hot weather, we decided to skip longer hikes and followed shorter trails and walks.

Tunnel View and Inspiration Point

After we caught the first glimpse of El Capitan, we turned to Wawona road to enjoy one of the most famous vistas in the world, the Tunnel View.

Yosemity Tunel View

Even though the parking area tends to be overcrowded, the view itself is magnificent. To escape the tour buses, we hiked to the Inspiration Point and had the spectacular view all to ourselves. The hike starts just above the parking lot and is about 2,6 miles (4,2 km) long (round trip) with an elevation of about 1000 feet (330 meters).

The hike took roughly an hour. Afterward, we continued through the valley and enjoyed the beautiful scenery.

Lunch at The Majestic Yosemite Hotel

By the time we got to the Yosemite Village, our hungry stomachs were growling. We decided to give ourselves a treat and headed to The Majestic Yosemite Hotel for lunch. The atmosphere in the bar area with outdoor seating was fantastic.

Good to know: From Yosemite Village, you can walk to the hotel in about ½ hour. There also is a regular bus service every 20 minutes.

Afternoon at Mirror Lake

After lunch, we stepped into the footsteps of many famous photographers and followed the Mirror Lake Trail (2,5 miles / 4 km one way). On the way, we stopped every now and then for the amazing Half Dome lookouts.

The brightly red Merced River reminded us of the times of Gold Fever. The Mirror Lake, however, was almost completely dried out by the end of August.

Mirror Lake Yosemite

That didn’t make our experience any less spectacular. Standing at the bottom of Half Dome made us feel like dwarfs. As sundown approached, a mama deer with a calf emerged from the woods.

Tip: To get back to the Yosemite Village, you can use the convenient Yosemite Valley Shuttle.

Sunset under Cathedral Rocks East

On our way out of the park, we stopped to appreciate the soft light on a vast meadow under the Cathedral Rocks East. The secluded atmosphere, together with the softly illuminated peaks, created a kitschy Yosemite impression.

Experiencing the golden hour among Yosemite peaks is probably the best way to conclude the visit to the park.

Yosemity Sunset

Yosemite National Park is a magnificent piece of Earth. Unique glacier shaped peaks, giant trees, and beautiful views make a visit to the park unforgettable. On our road trip, we only could experience a fraction of what Yosemite has to offer. We’d like to come back one day and explore more corners of this natural beauty.

Continue the trip with us

Part 1From Las Vegas to Joshua Tree
Part 2Joshua Tree National Park 
Part 3Venice Beach
Part 4: On the Road in the Sierra Nevada 
Part 5: Yosemite (You are here)
Part 6: San Francisco and the Bay area

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