I hope you enjoyed reading all about my time in New York City over the last several weeks. It is now time to tell you about the road trip part of my trip last September that included many National Parks in California and Arizona.
Once I landed in San Francisco I rented a car (I got an amazing deal from Fox Rent A Car) and immediately headed east towards Yosemite National Park. I thought about spending a day in San Francisco, but I ultimately chose to come back some other time when I could spend more time in this vibrant city. This trip was all about National Parks and Yosemite was at the top of the list!
Historically speaking, Yosemite was the third National Park in America in 1890 and predates the National Parks Service by 26 years. Even though Yellowstone was the first National Park, Yosemite actually got the ball rolling when President Lincoln gave the land to California as a State Park in 1864, marking the first time the federal government set land aside for preservation.
Yosemite NP is quite large and is roughly the same size as the state of Rhode Island. With that said over 95% of the park is still wilderness and a higher percentage of the 4-5 million yearly visitors stay within The Valley. This is understandable if you are in the park for only a day since the Valley is spectacular! I highly recommend entering Yosemite through the El Portal so you can drive through the natural rock tunnel and have the beauty spill out in front of you.
Once driving along The Valley you will have amazing view up at El Capitan (a 3000 foot sheer cliff) and Half Dome (an unbelievably hugh chunk of granite). While driving along the Valley you will be looking up at cliffs and mountains all around, but have a gorgeous mountain valley around you complete with streams, flowers, fields, and more. Within The Valley you will also find the visitor center, grocery store, souvenir shop, hotel, campground, and other needs. There are several hikes up into the mountains you can do to see the many waterfalls, but if you go in late summer most will dried up as I found out. 🙂
Outside of the many possible hiking and camping opportunities within Yosemite NP I want to highlight two places outside The Valley. The first is called Glacier Point and is a half hour scenic drive up to an overlook of The Valley. Second is Mariposa Grove, which is quite different than the rest of Yosemite because it is a grove of sequoia trees. I am going to talk more about this part of Yosemite because I think it warrants its own blog, so make sure you come back on Tuesday to read about it.