Hi friends, welcome back! The posts you’ve been waiting for are finally here…YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK! I’ve been procrastinating on my Yosemite posts, but for a legitimate reason. It’s so difficult to find the words to describe how truly special this park is. It’s one of those places that lives up to the hype and leaves a lasting mark on you. I strongly believe everyone should visit Yosemite at least once in their lifetime, it’s something you just have to experience in person! It’s awe inspiring and one of the most magnificent places I’ve ever been. So without further ado, I present my Honeymooning in Yosemite series!
Jon and I drove from our Airbnb in Lake Tahoe to our hotel outside Yosemite National Park on Memorial Day. The drive started smoothly and featured impressive views of the Sierra Mountains. As we got closer to Yosemite, the mountains and my excitement grew! When we set off, I wanted to take the route through the Tioga Pass entrance of the park so I could get a taste of Yosemite before our permit started the following day. This sounded like a great idea until we were greeted at the entrance with a long line of cars moving at snail speed. For some reason I thought people would be leaving the park on Memorial Day instead of going through, silly me 🙂 although I’m sure we would’ve encountered traffic regardless of the route we took.
As we drove through the entrance my eyes welled up in awe of the beauty surrounding us. I couldn’t believe this was real life and I felt so lucky to see such a magnificent place. I had never seen such massive mountains before, and these were so beautiful and grand, I was a bit starstruck. I could easily see why everyone says Yosemite is one of those places you’ll remember forever.
It took about an hour of driving through the extremely windy park roads to get to our hotel. I couldn’t believe how MASSIVE Yosemite is, 748,542 acres to be exact, and almost the size of Rhode Island! Anywhere you want to go in the park can be a thirty minute to two-hour drive. I thought Acadia National Park was big at 47,000 acres, but Yosemite puts it to shame. With that said, I’d highly recommend getting an accommodation in the park as early as you can! We booked our trip about six weeks in advance and were left with slim pickings. We ended up getting an Airbnb in the park for three nights and stayed outside the park at The Evergreen Lodge for the first night. In my opinion, the time saved by lodging inside the park is definitely worth the extra cost. Also if you stay in the park, you automatically get an overnight permit to enter the park.
Our hotel was located about 8 miles outside the Big Oak Flat entrance, and a decent place to stay outside the park. After staying at the Edgewood in Tahoe, it felt like a major step down, but the room was clean, comfortable, and the staff was friendly. The Evergreen Lodge felt like staying at an upgraded summer camp. We grabbed takeout from one of the onsite restaurants and it was ok. They also have a kids play area, pool, and other activities so this would be a good option if you’re travelling with kids.
Jon and I weren’t sure we’d get WIFI inside Yosemite, so we spent the night planning our hikes for the following days and saving all the potential directions we would need. We departed for Yosemite around 10:30 the following day and had no problem getting through the entrance. It took about two hours to get to the trailhead of our first hike of the trip, Sentinel Dome and Taft Point Loop. I’d HIGHLY recommend this hike to everyone visiting! It featured beautiful views of just about every big landmark in the park without being terribly difficult.
The hike started pretty easy with a slow incline as we headed to the dome. When we got to the base of the dome, we had an extremely steep climb up to the top that took maybe five minutes. All in all, it took us around thirty minutes to get from our car to the top of Sentinel Dome including quite a few stops for pictures. The views at the top blew me away, I’ve never seen something so stunning before!!
From Sentinel Dome you can see incredible views of the famous Half Dome!
We could also see the monstrous and intimidating El Capitan. We loved seeing El Cap in person after watching Free Solo. Seeing it in person made the 3,000 foot climb without ropes in under four hours even more unbelievable.
I also loved seeing all of the waterfalls Yosemite is famous for.
On our last full day in the park we hiked up both of these waterfalls and I can’t wait to share all of those pictures!! The top waterfall is Nevada Fall and the bottom is Vernal Fall.
If you’re in a pinch for time or not much of a hiker, you can hike about two miles to Sentinel Dome and back. You’ll get all the views without a strenuous hike.
After the endorphin high from climbing up to Sentinel Dome, we decided to trek the extra mile to one of the most famous spots in Yosemite, Glacier Point! You can also drive and park here, but we embraced the beautiful day and took the path slightly less travelled.
The temperatures when we were in the park were in the 90-100s all week, so these popsicles were definitely needed and refreshing! I was shocked the little shop only charged a dollar or two for the popsicles/ice cream, and only two dollars for a large water bottle. I expected some price gouging given the remote location, but we were pleasantly surprised!
After thoroughly enjoying the views, we felt refreshed and ready to continue on our hike to Taft Point. Jon and I had to forge a few small streams, and the journey felt quite long at times, but we finally made it to Taft Point! This was not for the faint of heart because it’s right on the edge of the cliff, but it made for some great pictures.
After this hike Jon and I felt quite exhausted from the heat and extra miles. We actually planned this to be an “easy” five-mile hike, but then we added about three more miles to Glacier Point and our legs felt spent. In total we walked over 22,000 steps and almost ten miles! We drove down to the valley to pick up groceries and then made a pit stop at Tunnel View on the way back up to our Airbnb. Tunnel View is THE most iconic view of Yosemite. I mean how stunning is this!!
We drove past Tunnel View every day we were in the park and this view never ceased to amaze me. The massive granite mountains are absolutely beautiful! Bridalveil Falls is pictured on the right, and named so because it looks like a bridal veil up close. The area surrounding Bridalveil Falls is currently under construction so we couldn’t get up close, but we were happy to see the gushing fall from afar.
We ended the day checking into our Airbnb in West Yosemite, grilling out some dinner, and watching some reality tv to wind down. Jon and I had the most amazing first day in Yosemite and fell asleep filled with excitement for more!! Stay tuned for our day exploring Yosemite Valley 🙂