Yosemite National Park: a place like no other. Living within a 2-hour drive of this most wondrous destination is a dream come true, for it offers that rare opportunity to maximize the opportunities someone could have to experience one of our nation’s, and nature’s, most wondrous vacation spots.
Yosemite is a place where the average person is awestruck at the sheer immensity of the surroundings. The diversity in natural phenomenon is also widespread, with everything from majestic rivers, to deep forests, to cliffs just begging for the rock-climbing enthusiast to give it their best shot, waterfalls, and seemingly endless miles of hiking trails. There is enough wildlife to keep the animal enthusiast intrigued, especially the squirrels and stellar jays along the trails, always looking for handouts.
I cannot give justice to how Yosemite can make a person feel. It can be overwhelming or an inspiration to explore. It provides opportunities for everything from simple family get-togethers and picnics amongst the sequoias, to the intrigue of rock- climbing some of the world’s most vertical, sheer rock formations, to experiencing fun rafting in mountain waters, or pioneering through all that nature has to offer by hiking into the wilderness.
Although many people see Yosemite as that picturesque view of El Capitan, forest, Bridalveil Falls, and Half Dome in the distance, there are many other areas of the park just there for your attention. Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, in the park’s west/northwest area, beckons with the combined resources of hiking trails along a manmade reservoir and dam, with spires nearby that are the breeding grounds for Peregrine falcons. Less people travel along this portion of the park, if you are looking for more solitude. Or, during the summer months, try hiking from along the highway 120 corridor in the high country and avoid the congestion in Yosemite Valley where everyone wants to wait and see the common, familiar postcard sights. Instead, try a trip from along the highway to the brink of North Dome, 4.6 miles in each direction. Take a side trip to an ancient Indian Arch natural sculpture. Or for even greater solitude, head north into the northernmost portions of the park on a several night backpack trip, where you are almost assured of little outside contact. Or rent a horse at any of three locations in the park and go for a horseback ride for a different type of Yosemite experience. You can even still be part of a horseback adventure on Sunday mornings that allows groups to ride to within a half mile of the summit of Half Dome and allow you time to attempt the cable experience energy rush of a lifetime (not for the faint of heart) to the top of Half Dome then return for a ride back downhill and avoid the 16 mile roundtrip hike that ascends 4800′ over the course of 8 miles.
Any way you look at it, Yosemite offers a lot for a memorable vacation or day of fun in the great outdoors. For best results, get information on the park, plan your trip, and prepare yourself for an adventure in paradise you will not soon forget.