[Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls]
Yosemite Valley is just one of the those places you HAVE. TO. SEE.
IMO it is just awe inspiring, and so so so beautiful.
[What you see driving into Yosemite on Highway 140 like HOW IS THIS REAL LIFE]
That in mind, do whatever you can to NOT go on a weekend in the summer. It will be crowded and hot hot hot but cold at night and a lot of the roads are one lane so there will be SO. MUCH. TRAFFIC.
That said, they do have amazing (FREE!) shuttles that take you to pretty much all the tourist spots you probably want to see anyway so you don’t have to drive. So that’s pretty lit.
But still. Try not to go in the summer? We went in the winter which was awesome, and I think if you live near Yosemite or have the chance to visit in the winter you 100% should.
Definitely check the weather (look up Yosemite Valley specifically, not just Yosemite!) because it snows often, even if it’s not snowing in the direct surrounding area. You might also need chains which is scary because I’m a wimpy Californian but luckily we went after a big snow so we didn’t have to use them. HA. Take that, winter!
Typically, Highway 120 is closed for winter and you take Highway 140, which is also way less twisty and turny than 120.
[The snow is fuuuuun]
BUT ANYWAYS. We camped at Camp 4 (only $6/night whooo) which was cool but also not because it was really rainy – I didn’t mind the rain as much, but what I did mind was the MUD. I kept dropping crap in it, which happened especially often as we were hammock camping and I was a hammock camping nube (still am) but basically every time I would get out stuff would fall out.
Ughhhhh. It was definitely a cool experience, but not necessarily one I’d want to repeat! I would probably try to stay in the cute little cabin things you can rent.
But Camp 4 itself is cool, it’s a walk up campground so it’s first come/first serve, and on that winter weekend there weren’t too many people camping and plenty of spots open.
You can also go to Upper Pines, which is $26 per night if you want a guaranteed spot. If you have a few friends, you can do a Yurt for $59 a night! There are other cabin options, but the Yurt is the cheapest.
[Failed attempt to see the firefall…Hopefully this year!]
We also tried to see the firefall, but that just did NOT happen because it was cloudy every night. Huge bummer since there are only 2 weeks or so out of the year when the light will hit the waterfall just right, and we just happened to be there during that time!
And because the night before we arrived the firefall had apparently been especially amazing…(brb crying)
[Walking around in the Valley; photo by Sabrina]
But I almost think Yosemite looks more majestic in the snow. So, finally, I’ll get into what you should fill your days with while you’re there….
[You’ve gotta be kidding me with these views…]
[LOOK AT THAT DETAIL THOSE CLOUDS AND THAT ROCK AND THE MINI WATERFALLS AND THE TREES]
Okay so my absolute favorite thing is pretty much just driving around. And looking at the cliffs. They are just so amazeballs. And with snow on top of them it’s like ohhhhhh mannnn. Literal life.
TUNNEL VIEW REALLY IS A VIEW
[Womp womp. Our Tunnel View view was kinda cloudy, but normally it looks epic like this.]
A classic. You see this right when you’re driving into the park. Except when we went it was cloudy the whole time, but I’ve been in the summer when it’s absolutely beautiful! And loaded with tourists…(like I said, avoid the summer at all costs!)
MUSEUMS ALL DAY BABY
I LOVE VISITOR CENTERS. Especially national park ones – they are all sooooo good!! And you learn so much about the history of the park. Yosemite has an awesome visitor center, and we also went to the Ansel Adams Gallery which was awesome.
VERNAL FALLS/MIST TRAIL IS A MUST
[Soooo we didn’t get tooo far on this trail, but you can kindaa see Vernal Falls peeking out]
[Views from the Mist Fall Trail that leads to Vernal Falls, and eventually, Nevada Falls]
Another classic trail! In the spring/summer, Vernal Falls pretty much always has a waterfall at the end of it. We didn’t go very far, because it was SUPER snowy when we were there, and apparently if you wanted to go all the way up to Nevada Falls you had to snowshoe.
SNOWSHOEING/SKIING/WHATEVER-ING AT THE YOSEMITE SKI & SNOWBOARD AREA
You can take a bus up to the Ski and Snowboard Area for free, or you can drive (but like aforementioned, we are pathetic Californians so we took the bus).
The bus takes about 45 minutes and goes up a few times in the morning and back in the afternoon. We missed the early bus (oops) so we were only up there for a few hours, but it was my first time snowshoeing and really cool! I’d love to go all the way to Dewey Point next time.
THE AWANHEE (NOW MAJESTIC) HOTEL LOOKS DOPE
I haven’t yet, but I’ve heard that visiting and dining there is quite the experience. Unfortunately it’s a little on the expensive side (but that’s to be expected…) but I’d still like to!
ICE RINKS ARE COOL (HAHA GET IT)
I have yet to do this (it was closed for renovation when we were there last year), but how much cooler can it be to ice skate under half dome??? There’s a rink in Curry Village so you can literally SEE HALF DOME AND ICE SKATE LIKE WHAT. There’s also one in Tenaya Lodge that’s supposed to be pretty.
YOSEMITE FALLS (ALL OF THEM)
[Lower Yosemite Falls, as seen from the trail]
We walked to Lower Yosemite Falls (super easy 1 mile trip), but you can also try and hike to Upper Yosemite Falls, which is a 7.2 mile roundtrip hike.
Missed these falls last time, but they’re on my list for this next trip!
[Looking back at all the pretty things; photo by Sabrina]
I’m headed back to Yosemite pretty soon to see the firefall (HOPEFULLY…). I’m ver ver excited and first on my list is the ice rink, the Majestic Hotel, Bridalveil Falls, and staring at pretty things because that’s one of my favorite hobbies.
[Look closely on the log and you can see a coyote!! I also saw Mule Deer (they’re all over Yosemite and sooo cute!) and a bobcat!]
I absolutely love visiting places in the winter (maybe because I grew up without snow days, since I grew up in the Bay Area? I think I’m subconsciously still pissed about it) – I just think winter is so much more magical (at times – other times, ok most of the time, I’m crying about the cold). So recently, I went to Stockholm, Abisko, and Copenhagen in January!