Yosemite National Park has some of the most gorgeous views in California and is well known for its sight seeing and rock climbing. Home to big-name tourist attractions, like Half Dome, El Capitan, and Yosemite Falls, this park offers something for everyone.
How To Get Around: You can get to and around Yosemite on public transit, but I recommend having your own car, as the park is very large.
Where To Stay: We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the Rush Creek Lodge and would definitely recommend if you are planning a relaxing trip in the mountains.
Traveler Tip: Although we only stayed 10 minutes outside of the park, I would still recommend getting lodging inside the park if you are able to. As Yosemite is quite large, it still took us 45-50 minutes to get to most of the popular spots within the park.
Hikes To Do:
Half Dome is arguably the most challenging and most well known hike in Yosemite. The hike to Half Dome was one of the biggest hikes I have ever completed and most rewarding to date. However, I will say that it did not come without its challenges. If you are looking to complete this hike, be sure to give yourself a full day and start as early as you can. Additionally, come prepared with all the food and water you will need; the minimum recommended water intake is 4 liters and you will need to bring food to snack on every 2-3 hours. We decided to start the trail at 6am and only finished at 5:30pm and although we brought more than enough food, we did run out of water the last few miles down and we definitely were showing signs of dehydration.
The Half Dome ascent and metal cables to reach the summit of the dome is the most exhilarating part of hike and if you're not careful can be fatal. The near-vertical, final 400 feet up the cables can be extremely terrifying but so rewarding when you reach the summit of the dome and see the stunning 360 views of the park. I would recommend fueling up before starting the cables as you will need the arm strength to pull yourself up the mountain. Also, be sure to bring gloves for the cables as your hands will definitely get torn while climbing. However, if you forget (like us) many generous hikers leave their gloves at the bottom of the cables for others to use. My last and most important tip for this hike, would be to make sure you have proper hiking boots or sneakers on when ascending and descending the cables. The granite can be extremely slippery and shoes with good grip can really make the difference between having a great experience or terrifying one.
Before my trip, I bought these Columbia hiking boots and they had great grip and were comfortable throughout the hike.
Traveler Tip: In order to ascend the cables and reach the summit of the dome, you will need to apply for the permit. Permits for day hikers are distributed by lottery via Recreation.gov in March and daily lotteries during the hiking season.
Sentinel Dome and Taft Point Loop: This loop is a 5.1 mile heavily trafficked loop trail that should definitely be done towards the end of the day. As the start of the trail allows you to choose which side of the loop you would like to start with, I would recommend doing sentinel dome first and then looping around to Taft Point just in time for sunset. This spot provides for a magnificent view of the sunset and is only 2 miles back to the parking lot, if you are nervous hiking in the dark.
Lower Yosemite Falls Trail- This trail is an easy mile loop that features a lake, meadows and a lower view of Yosemite Falls. I would recommend this trail after hiking a difficult trail like Half Dome as the elevation gain is very low and the land is primarily flat.
Tunnel View- Easily accessible from the parking lot, Tunnel View makes for an easy sunrise spot as you won't have to hike in the early morning to reach the spot. You can marvel at the beautiful view from your car window as you watch the sun rise and sip on your morning coffee.
Traveler Tip: Check out the Yosemite National Park website for details on park entry, lodging, and more.
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