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Spring

California NATURE + GARDENS

Yosemite In A Day

May 20, 2015

One thing we learned from living in Europe was

traveling shouldn’t be reserved exclusively for school holidays

Yosemite In A Day

Sometimes you just have to take the time you’ve been given,

and for us, we had one weekend in May put aside to visit Yosemite National Park

Merced River: Yosemite In A Day

Merced River

Yosemite was declared a US National Park in 1890 with the help of John Muir:

founder of Sierra Club, environmental conservationist,

author, naturalist, and for a brief time, a shepherd

Decades later

the Sierra Club’s official trip photographer, Ansel Adams, helped spread the word

about this majestic landscape through his famous black and white images

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The name ‘Yosemite’ is derived from a Native American word ‘uzumati’ for grizzly bear

Although grizzlies are the state animal and on the state flag,

grizzly bears no longer live in California

However, black bears as well as thousands of rare plant and animal species reside in the park

Containing three of the world’s 10 tallest waterfalls

[Upper Yosemite Falls, Ribbon Falls, Sentinel Falls],

the tallest and largest single granite monolith in the world [El Capitan],

and one of the world’s largest trees [Grizzly Giant in Mariposa Grove],

it’s no wonder Yosemite is an UNESCO World Heritage Site

and attracts 4 million visitors each year

Mule Deer: Yosemite In A Day

Mule Deer with fantastic ears

Although the 1,200 square mile park is roughly the size of Rhode Island,

the majority of visitors are concentrated in the 7 square mile Yosemite Valley

We chose to visit Yosemite in May

when the snow had melted, it was a little warmer

and the waterfalls were active

Vernal Falls: Yosemite In A Day

Vernal Falls

To avoid the crowd,  visit on a weekday

and outside the peak season of Memorial Day to Labor Day

We spent two nights in a lodge south of the park

We hadn’t accounted for the long queue to pay for entry to the park

or the hour drive to get to Yosemite Valley from the entrance

But lodging books up fast [up to a year prior], so this was our only option

Rafting Merced River: Yosemite In A Day

DAY ONE [from South Entrance] ::

1. Pull over at Tunnel View Overlook for a magnificent view of waterfalls, El Cap, and Half Dome

2. Since cars have limited access, park at Curry Village and rent a bike for the day

The valley floor is so flat, my bike didn’t have gears

3. Bike to the Mist Trail trailhead and hike to Vernal Falls

This hike is 3 miles round trip and rated moderate to strenuous

If you only have one day to see the park,

this is great bang for your buck if the waterfall is flowing

4. Bike to the Lower Yosemite Falls for an easy 1-mile loop hike

5. Continue cycling the 10-mile valley loop and return bike

6. Walk or take the E3 Shuttle to El Capitan Picnic Area

to watch some of the best climbers in the world ascend El Cap

Yosemite In A Day

DAY TWO options ::

Float the Merced River in a rented raft

Visit Mariposa Grove, Sentinel Dome, Glacier Point on the south side of the park

Hike to Mirror Lake, a famous Ansel Adams photo shoot location

accessible from the valley – ask locals if it is currently a pond or meadow –

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For our family of four, one day of seeing the sites was sufficient to soak in the area

With a 4-hour drive home ahead of us, we didn’t take advantage of the Day Two options

but we were very happy to have witnessed such stunning beauty in this country

Bucket list – check!

More national parks here

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