5 tips for traveling to Yosemite National Park

February 23, 2015

Yosemite national park

Yosemite National Park and 5 tips for traveling there

We went to Lake Tahoe and Yosemite NP recently. The top 5 words to describe my trip are gorgeous, exhausting, cold, adventurous, and stunning! 
If you guys haven't been to Yosemite it is a place you have to visit at least once in your lifetime! 
But it's not easy to get there, believe I know!
Here are MY tips for planning a trip to Yosemite National Park

Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls
Yosemite Falls upper and lower
1. Time of year 
With my research I found that if you want to see the amazing waterfalls at their best you have to visit Yosemite in the spring time. But be careful, spring time and Memorial day weekend are the busiest. I went the weekend before Memorial day and it wasn't that busy, but then we had bad luck with the weather. That's the other thing about visiting in the spring time, the weather is so unpredictable. Weather can also play a part on how you actually get to Yosemite Valley. If it's early enough in the spring time you can only enter the park from the West side because Tioga Pass, which is the major highway that enters the from the East is usually still covered in snow. The National Park Service website is updated daily on the road conditions about all major highways in the park. When we went we got lucky and were able to drive the gorgeous Tioga Pass into the park,  but as we enjoyed our time in the park the pass closed due to snow. 

Mirror Lake
Mirror Lake
Can you see how many layers I have on??
2. Attire 
If you are going to visit in the spring time, be prepared for that unpredictable weather that could occur and don't let it stop you from seeing the falls and hiking the hikes you want to do. Bring waterproof shoes and a rain jacket along with your usual camping/traveling attire. Although some bad weather can cause you to be blue, it sure makes for a unique and beautiful photographs than the usual sunny weather day.

Tunnel View at Yosemite
Cloudy weather….
Tunnel View
Sunny weather…
Tunnel View

3. Accommodations  
There are 4 types of accommodations that are common when visiting Yosemite. You can camp, stay in the hotel, backpack, and/or stay just outside the park.

If you plan on camping there are 13 campgrounds in Yosemite NP, 4 of those are in the Valley. Out of the 4 of those, 3 require a reservation that needs to be set at least 5 months in advance (can do that here). The last one is on a first come first served, but be in line early it fills by noon.

Backpacking is a great way to be able to see all 1,100 square miles if you have the time. Make sure you're prepared by packing everything out, correct food storage, and wilderness permits.

I don't know much about staying outside the park, but there are little towns I believe about 45 minutes outside the park with hotels. The little towns were so cute though as I drove through them.

There are hotels/lodging in Yosemite called The Ahwahnee (AAA Four Diamond hotel), Yosemite Lodge at the Falls, Curry Village, and Housekeeping Camp. Here are simple descriptions of each one. The Ahwahnee- fancy and expensive, Yosemite Lodge at the Falls-centrally located in the valley and easily accessible to all things, Curry Village- standard motel rooms, cabins and canvas tents, last Housekeeping Camp-3 concrete walls and a canvas roof gives you the camping with a tent feeling, there are showers available here too.  

When I went we camped in Upper Pines campground. Since we went in May I had to reserve right when reservations were open up in January. The camp spots went super fast and actually I didn't even get the one I wanted. Upper Pines was a nice campground, it had all the usual campground water, parking, and fire pits. The only thing different with camping there from camping in Utah was we weren't allowed to have fires in the morning. I guess the collection of smoke can cause the Valley to become smoggy, so you were only allowed to have 1 fire a day. Bathrooms were fine, flushable toilets   and running water. They have bear lockers in each camp spot and it's a must to use them, there was actually a few bear sightings in our campground while we were there. 

Lower Yosemite Falls

 Bridalveil Falls

4. What To See
Now that you have picked when you're going, what you're going to wear, and where you're going to stay it's time to research what you're going to see. Oh man there is so many hikes, views, and falls to see that there is no way I could talk about all of them here. Instead I'll just point out the ones that I saw or wanted to see.

The Valley offers views of Yosemite Falls, Bridalveil Falls, El Capitan, Sentenial Rock, and Half Dome. To get to the bottom of Yosemite Falls and Bridalveil Falls it's a short walk on a paved walkway which is very family friendly. The Mist trail is a hike that leads you to Nevada Falls and Vernal Falls, I wasn't able to do this hike but really wanted too. We did do the Mirror Lake Loop which was easy and so pretty once we got to the lake. Literally there are too many hikes to name so here is a link so you can do some research.

There is more to Yosemite than just hiking, you can also go rock climbing it's a rock climbers heaven, fishing, horse back riding, birdwatching, rafting, and biking. The Valley can get very crowded so it's best to either ride the shuttle that has frequent stops at the bottom of all popular hikes or take a bike to ride around on. 

5. Just do it!
No, this isn't a Nike commercial, it's ten times better. This trip taught me to just do it, 'it' being whatever you set out to do unless of coarse it might cause harm to you or others…damn it, the nurse in me just came out. I didn't just do it when I went to Yosemite, I let the rain get me down and stop me from doing a few hikes and seeing what I set out to see during this trip. And that my friend is my new life lesson! 
 Until next time Yosemite where I will do the whole trip completely different!

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