One of America’s big name national parks and for good reason. Yosemite sprawls across a huge area, but the most commonly visited part is the main valley. There are a handful of accommodation options such as a hotel, a luxury campground with permanent tents (some of which are heated throughout the winter months) and more basic campgrounds where you bring you own tent.
Half Dome and Nevada Falls hike
The hiking opportunities in this park are phenomenal. If you’re feeling very adventurous, there’s the 17km hike up to Half Dome, the sight that inspired North Face’s logo. To walk on the rock, you will need a permit and shoes with very good grip. You have to pull yourself up on chains bolted to it, and because the trail is so popular, the rock is slippery. If you don’t have the permit, or stamina to go all the way, a nice hike is along the Half Dome trail, but to only go as far as Nevada Falls. If you get really lucky, you may come across a group with permits, but not everyone in the group wishes to use them. This happened to us, but unfortunately we were ill prepared with not enough food or water to see us through to the extra distance, so we had to frustratingly decline. The shorter hike is still jaw dropping with new sights around each corner. You’ll walk across vast rock plateau’s, through alpine forest, climb up the side of not 1, but 2 waterfalls and cross wooden footbridges.
Tuolomne Grove isn’t on the Valley Floor, but is a short drive from it. There are 3 groves in total which house the giant sequoia’s, but this one is my personal favourite. You have the opportunity to walk past sequoia’s still living and growing, walk the length of a fallen tree, and even walk through a dead one.
The Valley Floor its self is a wonderful space to either have a casual walk, or rent a bike from Half Dome Village and cycle around it. The trails are flat so it’s a leisurely pedal on cruiser bikes with no breaks. There’s no need to pack up a lunch as you’ll pass restaurants, cafes and shops. Some of the must see’s include Yosemite Falls – by far the most impressive in Spring, Sentinel Beach, and the open meadows surrounded by the stillest of lakes which perfectly mirror the towering cliffs that help make up the valley.
Taft Point and Senteniel Dome loop
My last recommendation would be to drive up to Glacier Point Road first thing in the morning. Even in August it was freezing cold with a frost on the ground, so take a fleece. Park at the Senteniel Dome trail head, but first hike out to Taft Point. We saw some amazing wildlife on the hike out, including what we assumed were 2 brother deer. Instead of coming back on ourselves completely, we then branched off towards Senteniel dome. It’s ever so slightly longer than going back to the parking lot, but it means you’ll see more variety of landscape. From this trail head, it’s not too much further to Glacier Point. It’s incredibly busy here as it doesn’t require much in the way of walking (at all) to get some amazing views, but it’s worth it if you’re already up that way!