I had never been to Yosemite or at least I don’t remember having been to Yosemite. It would have been before I remembered much if I did go so I thought it was about time to go. I had a parks pass and I found someone willing to go with me. What more do you need but time?

I planned to come home from my three week road trip and basically have enough time to do a couple loads of laundry and repack my bag. It was time to see my family and spend some time in Yosemite with my aunt. (Thanks for saying yes Chris!)

Yosemite is amazing. Getting there is quite a drive but once you get into the park and down to the valley floor there is so much to see in just that small area. Plus the drive in is quite scenic as well.

We came in on Tioga Pass after spending some time seeing in the sites east of the park (Mono Lake and Bodie). Tioga Pass has to be the most beautiful entrance to the park yet probably the least traveled. There are so many ponds and bodies of water that in the morning can be calm and quite reflective. I felt very fortunate to see these views.

Tioga Pass

In case you hadn’t noticed a theme in my life and travels tends to be taking the road less traveled.

What did my two days in Yosemite look like?

Day 1:
Sunrise at Mona Lake (see picture below)
Drive in through Tioga Pass
Walk to the lower Yosemite Falls viewing area
Hike to view upper Yosemite Falls
Lunch in the meadow
Hike to Mirror Lake
Dinner in the Village
Drive to Glacier Point for sunset and check out the view points along the way

Day 2:
Walk to the Bridal Veil Falls viewing area
Check out Swinging Bridge, Cathedral Rocks and El Capitan
Hike to the top of Vernal Falls and take the trail to view Nevada Falls
Hike down the John Muir trail for another lovely view of Vernal Falls
Check out the Ansel Adams Gallery store
Last views at Bridal Veil from across the meadow

Before I went to Yosemite I tried to read up on the best times to view each feature for optimal lighting. I’m not sure I totally achieved everything I wanted to but I’d say it was a wonderful two days of beautiful scenery. I got some good shots and some good lighting but now that I know the lay of the land I think I might possibly adjust my timing a little of some of the sites.

Notes for next time:

  1. At Yosemite Falls the light was just touching the top of the falls and nothing else. I’d rather have it in full shade so I’d need to go there earlier next time.
  2. Mirror Lake is not much of a mirror or a lake anymore. It’s getting filled in slowly and you don’t get the great reflections that you got way back when. I’d skip this site.
  3. Hike more in the Tioga Pass area which was still mostly closed when we went through due to snow levels.
  4. Do a sunset hike to Taft Point or Sentinel Dome.
  5. See a sunrise in the park.
  6. Get a closer view of Illouette Falls
  7. See Horsetail Falls glowing. It was barely flowing when we were there and I couldn’t figure out a good viewing spot.

P.S. If you’ve never heard of a tufa you must go to Mona Lake.

Tufa's and Sierras

Yosemite National Park and then some by Roux Roamer