We first laid eyes on the breathtaking scenery that is home to Yosemite National Park back in 2014 on our honeymoon. There was something in the steely granite rocks, sheer cliff faces, thundering waterfalls and calm, tranquil lakes that really resonated with us.
The journey into Yosemite alone, along Tioga Pass is a feast for the eyes, with towering mountains and ash-coloured roads. Just make sure that you plan your visit in advance, as the road usually closes for winter due to heavy snow and often doesn’t reopen until May or June.
Epic views on our way through the park to our hotel.
We stayed at one of the few hotels situated actually within the bounds of the park, Big Trees Lodge. Unfortunately, after having just come from that beautiful accommodation at Lake Tahoe, this hotel was a little bit disappointing. We didn’t feel very welcomed, and the room itself seemed to lack any sense of charm, and was lacking in many basic amenities that we had become used to such as an iron and ironing board, or a kettle. However for location, it’s pretty hard to beat. If we were to return to Yosemite, I think we would stay at Tenaya Lodge again instead. It’s a little further out, but much more cosy and welcoming.
Our first planned stop during this visit to the park was Bridalveil Falls. You can see this waterfall from the roadside, but it is worth taking the short, easy trail to the base of the falls. You’ll wind alongside a tranquil stream, fed directly by the waterfall itself, before feeling a gentle spray which tells you that you are close to the end of the trail.
If you are a fan of waterfalls, you of course won’t want to miss Yosemite Falls, the most well-known waterfall within the park. The lower section of the waterfall is situated only a short distance from the nearest car parking area, or main road for the bus, although be prepared for a larger crowd than at Bridalveil Falls. I love the way the bottom of the waterfall seems to transform into fluffy white clouds before it even hits the plunge pool at the bottom.
On our honeymoon visit we hiked the trail to the Upper Falls, which I would really recommend if you have time – the trail meanders through towering woodland, and you’ll find that the further you walk, the more you seem to have the place to yourselves.
After our visit, I was made aware that there are actually a few small falls between the upper and lower sections, known as the middle cascades. This section is made up of five smaller sets of waterfalls, and definitely had made my list for next time we visit!
If you fancy a hike to get the blood pumping, check out the Mist Trail up to Vernal Falls and beyond. It’s a pretty steep uphill hike, but it’s worth every ounce of sweat, I promise!
A view from Vernal Falls
Looking for an epic sunset viewing spot? Head to either Tunnel View area, or Glacier Point. The red and orange tones of the setting sun hit Half Dome in the 20 minutes or so before sunset, and this spectacular sight can be witnessed from either viewpoint. If you’re brave enough, head out on Taft Point, a little rocky outcrop at Glacier Point which offers unspoilt views for those who dare to walk it.
I’d suggest that if you want somewhere a bit more secluded and less busy, stop at this small viewpoint on the way to Glacier Point. The view is almost as good of Half Dome as at Glacier Point, but there was absolutely no one else here when we stopped by, which was refreshing after the crowds at Glacier Point.
Here you’ll also find that famous Instagram spot at the bend in the road:
Don’t forget about the wildlife in Yosemite too! This little guy quickly become our buddy and wouldn’t leave us alone! He was obviously used to being fed scraps by humans, which although is not ideal, it certainly made for cute photo ops for us (although no naughty food scraps)!
We stumbled across this gorgeous deer too as it crossed the path in front of us and began to nibble on the nearby foliage.
No bears spotted yet, but we continue to hold out hope!
We barely needed to even frame up our shots in Yosemite, as every angle seems to be framed naturally by the spectacular surroundings.
Yosemite really is one of those places that you can just wander around and lose yourself in. Every corner brings something new and beautiful, each different angle brings a changing view of the spectacular backdrop of forest and mountains.
And the sunsets are just to die for.
Have you visited Yosemite? Which parts are your favourite to hike to?
For a peek at our visit this time round, check out our vlog below: