pt. 1 was posted, but here’s pt 2!
Mom and I work up bright and early so we could head north from Oakhurst to the south entrance of Yosemite NP. It was a fairly quick drive and were soon greeted by the park gates and the sign, it’s always exciting to see those things.
After entering the park we chose to bypass going to the Mariposa Grove since we had just been in other sequoia groves and made our way to the Wawona Hotel. We rushed into the building seeing they had a restaurant and just made it in time for breakfast, our stomachs thanked us for getting yummy food. The Wawona Hotel was built in 1876 and reminded me of many historic hotels in National Parks and the military buildings around San Francisco. It had a more basic victorian retreat look, not too flashy but not rustic. It reminded me of the hotel in Dirty Dancing, I can imagine all the fun dances and parties this place has seen. The dining room in the Wawona is also so adorable. It had custom chandeliers with woods painted on the shade and little sequoia cones hanging from the bottom. It was the perfect amount of cheese and classy. There were fireplaces in the dining room and sitting room with nice big chairs to lounge around in. The big front porch also had chairs to lounge in and look over the grounds and fountain. The main building is surrounded by other different sized and similar styled buildings, little cottages, another bigger hotel building and the Thomas Hill studio. All the buildings, with their wood siding and wood shingled roofs blended perfectly with the surrounding woods.
Beside the hotel is the Thomas Hill Studio which is now the visitor center in Wawona. Don’t know who Thomas Hill is? Well he’s the guy in the 1800’s that painted those huge, vast, beautiful landscapes of the United States landscape, mainly concentrating on the landscapes of Yosemite. Still no? See if the art museum near you has his work, which they probably do, and go be in awe at his amazing ability. Ok, now that I’m done with that the studio was quaint and had a lot about his history in it, and a nice vignette of what the studio looked like. After reading and being jealous of his artistic ability, we got our directions from the park ranger there and were on our way!
Our first stop as we traveled to the Yosemite valley was to Glacier Point. We drove the windy roads all the way to the top to be greeted with breathtaking views. The first major turnoff was near the top to our right. It overlooked Half Dome, Liberty Cap and the Vernal and Nevada Falls. Beyond those you just could see the land stretch out forever. After taking loads of pictures we headed all the way to Glacier Point overlook.
Glacier Point sits 3,200ft above the Yosemite Valley and has an elevation of 7,214ft. The viewshed of the overlook was incredible, having almost a 270º view of the Valley, Tenaya Canyon, all the famous granite monoliths and at least a dozen waterfalls. It was like you were in a Tolkien novel looking down at some wondrous new land.
From Glacier Point we drove back down to the main road and towards the Valley. You wind down and down lowering elevation then come to a long tunnel borring through the mountainside. As you go through and hit the end you are struck by an amazingly spectacular view. Light baked valley, El Capitan glowing, Half dome looking over everything and waterfalls flowing (at this point, unfortunately with the drought they will soon dry up). There’s a shimmering to the valley.
After stopping for a quick photo we made our way past Bridalveil falls, and walked the quick walk to be sprayed with waterfall mist then continued on to Yosemite Village. At this point the shuttles weren’t fully running so after a lot of walking we went to the store, museum, main visitor center, and the post office (which surprised Mike when we were there last week, but to me I’m like “Of course National Parks have post offices.” I guess that’s not common knowledge). After filling up on knowledge, presents for everyone and snacks we headed back to the car.
Leaving the park we followed the Merced river winding through the canyons as we headed back to the central valley. A few hours later we were home and relaxing. It’s amazing to know that I’m close by such beauty and can make a weekend trip out there.
If you only have a day and don’t have time or can’t hike, there’s so many beautiful things to see. Stopping at Wawona is a must and learning about Thomas Hill. Glacier Point is breathtaking and I’m sad I didn’t go back last week, just didn’t have time. Going into the valley stop after the tunnel and get a picture, it’s one of the most photogenic locations. Parking in the Valley and taking the shuttle around is a must just so you can see all the villages and buildings there. On your way out stop and see the Upper and Lower Yosemite falls. You can also go down to the Merced river and skip stones or dip your toes in or something. The best time to go to Yosemite is in the spring and early summer, the waterfalls are flowing and it’s not yet too warm.
Growing up my parents took me and my sisters to so many amazing National Parks and made me fall in love with the NPS. I still dream of becoming a ranger and exploring the wilds of our country. I’m so happy that I got to experience these two parks with my mom, and share the first time experience together.
Fun thing is Mike and I got to go back to Yosemite this past week, I’ve been bitten with the Yosemite bug… We stayed there for two nights, and got some hikes in. More on that later!