24 Apr

We had spent a good part of last year thinking we would visit Yosemite this spring. At some point the realisation dawned that we would be in the vicinity of the National Park maybe a little early, the snow could still be on the ground restricting access.

However, towards the end of our time in Monterey we saw that the forecast was for a nice few days ahead, we did a little research and decided we had a window of opportunity to drive into the park. It may just be a drive through but at least we would have seen something of the scenery everyone talks about and anything has to be better than nothing.

The National Park camp grounds were all well booked so not even an option. We spent our first night at Oakhurst just outside the south gate. Next morning a 17 mile drive bought us to the south entrance where we collected the National Park information and began our climb along Wawona Road. After a twisty wooded section the view opened out to give us our first glimpse of the high, grey granite cliffs Yosemite is famous for.

Geologists believe this rock formed 5 miles below the surface, thousands of years of erosion and uplifting leave it now around 7000 ft above sea level.

Beyond the first tunnel through the rock is a stopping place where we thought we could P1260026get a better view. This turned out to be the most congested tourist location we have been to in a long while with two large coach parties and a smaller bus joining the not insignificant number of private cars parked. The outcome was everyone vying for position to get ‘the’ shot down the valley. When a third tour bus arrived we made a swift exit!








Our next stopping point was not a great deal better. We turned into the parking area for Bridalveil falls only to discover parking spaces to be too small, we exited and drove a short distance down the road where we could park alongside. We felt a sign to indicate large vehicle parking in this location would have been helpful. However, we walked back the short distance to the falls and once more joined many others in observing the view.



By now we were surrounded by the impressive high walls of granite we had looked over earlier and could spot various other smaller waterfalls cascading down the rock sides. We drove on to the valley visitor centre along the side of the river. The trees are still in winter mode here and not many are showing any signs of bud break yet.


At the visitor centre we watched the orientation film and toured the museum before heading off for the Indian Flats camp ground for the night.P1260080















Looking at the maps we realised if we took highway 140 turning left on to the 120 weP1260093could make our way out of the park and include another section of it. As we left Indian Flats next morning the road was much quieter, it meandered alongside the river where plenty of melt water was rushing through creating rapids and cascades over the huge boulders. We felt this route was so much prettier and more enjoyable than the previous day.








The entrance to the park along this road comes with an interesting gateway. A 14ft height clearance between a rock arch – I held my breath and hoped we could squeeze through even though I knew we had plenty of clearance it did not feel that way!



The picture is a little out of focus due to my shaking hands and haRVey quaking in his boot, sorry, tyres!










As we turned onto the 120 we again began to climb leaving the valley floor behind.Now we also found the snow, the road out to Oak Flats is a little higher and alongside the road several inches of snow still covered the ground.

P1260127We stopped for yet another waterfall photo opportunity!











Yosemite was for us, all about landscape and we certainly found it impressive. A total of over P1260128three million acres is set aside and protected, what we were seeing was like a full stop in an essay. We would have loved to be able to see more, maybe cross the Tioga Road which runs through the centre of the park (and is closed November to May each year), got out for a hike, or just stayed a little longer. We settled ourselves to having been fortunate enough to see what we had. We were lucky just a few days later the roads would again be closed by snow!

2 Responses to “Yosemite”

  1. Sue April 24, 2012 at 3:08 pm #

    glad we didn’t have to try and fit under that rock <>.
    Yosemite is stunning, although as you noticed, quite crowded, and its early in the season still! we’re still in Fresno, not exactly sure when we’re leaving , but we are headed to Zion when we leave.

  2. pamela April 25, 2012 at 3:28 am #

    Oh I’m so jealous, and glad you got to go there. We managed two days in May 2010 when we were over there to stay with family. For part of our visit me and my partner used a hire car to drive around Northern California. So wedrove into the park then hopped on and off the free buses which stopped off at all the main waterfalls, trailheads and the village on the first day. Then drove in and onto Marisota Grove to see the big trees on route to L.A. To me it was everything I had hoped for, magical, spectacular and very special:) Saw bears, cayote and birds:) Would have loved to stay in the park, especially in the more remote areas. What I remember most is the smell – fresh!!! and the sound of the water, very, very glad I was there, and for you too!
    pamela xxx

    p.s. I took hundreds of photo’s from the car but none were such a tight squeeze, ooh!

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