Yosemite National Park is best described by John Muir, who lobbied successfully for the creation of Yosemite Park in 1890, when he said, ”Nowhere will you see the majestic operations of nature more clearly revealed…full of God’s thoughts, a place of peace and safety amid the most exalted grandeur.” Yosemite National Park is located a mere 3 hours by car, due east of San Francisco in California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range, yet it feels a world away. It’s iconic granite cliffs, such as El Capitan and Half Dome, many waterfalls, and Giant Sequoia trees, thousands of years old, are just a few of the natural wonders that define the valley. Many famous artists, like Ansel Adams, and outdoor enthusiasts like John Muir, have revelled in Yosemite’s spectacular scenery. Abundant hiking trails from the valley floor upwards, make it easy to experience the park up close and personal.
This is the largest grove of Giant Sequoias in the park, located in the southernmost part of Yosemite National Park. It boasts several hundred mature trees, including the iconic Fallen Monarch, estimated to be over 2,000 years old when it fell. Be sure to see the Grizzly Giant, the oldest tree and the second largest in the grove. The Washington tree is the largest by volume, while the Columbia Tree is the tallest at 285 feet. The California Tunnel Tree was cut in 1895 to allow coaches to pass through it. It is the only remaining living Giant Sequoia with a tunnel in it in the world. Others to watch for on your hike: The Bachelor and Three Graces, an group of four trees, The Faithful Couple, two trees fused at their base, The Telescope Tree, a tree hollow tree, The Wawona Tunnel Tree, renamed the Fallen Tunnel Tree, was the first tree to have a tunnel carved into it.
Yosemite National Park is credited with being the birthplace of rock climbing as a sport. One look at Half Dome and you will immediately understand why. Half Dome is the most recognized symbol of Yosemite, rising 5,000 feet above the Valley floor, it is easily seen from most of the eastern Yosemite Valley. One of the best places to see Half Dome up close iis to take the Mirror Lake trail. It’s a two mile round trip walk on a paved trail.
This granite rock face rises over 3,000 feet above the Valley floor and is another favorite of expert rock climbers, painters, and photographers alike. It’s located opposite of Bridalveil Falls and can be seen best from roads in the western side of Yosemite valley, especially Tunnel View Road, Bridalveil, and El Capitan Meadow.
Get your cameras out! The Tunnel View scenic overlook, located adjacent to Wawona Road, affords expansive views of the Yosemite Valley, El Capitan, Bridalveil Falls, and Half Dome.
The snow capped Glacier Point is incredible in itself, but many enjoy the spectacular view it affords visitors of the valley below.To get the best view of this impressive formation, head to Half Dome Village.
A 0.5 mile round trip hike on a paved trail takes you to the base of these spectacular falls. Bridalveil Falls plunges 620 feet down. It is beautiful any time of the year, whether thundering down in the spring or lightly tumbling, resembling a bridal veil.
The Yosemite Hotel (formerly the Ahwahnee)
This National Historic Landmark, completed in 1927, epitomizes rustic elegance. Amazing stained-glass windows, historic paintings of Yosemite, and incredible woven tapestries decorate the hotel, adding to its American Indian motif. Stop in for a tasty meal and take in the spectacular view from the dining room.
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