Joined with two of my best girlfriends Abbie and Dawn, last month in September I embarked on an epic two week trip of the USA covering New York, various parts of California and the hedonist’s ultimate dream spot, Las Vegas. Now in the depth of chilly autumn, it’s fair to say the holiday blues are still niggling away at me!
One of my favourite spots we visited was the unbelievable Yosemite National Park in Northern California, so here I am to spam away with my many photos and some details on our experience at the park.
I would have absolutely loved to spend a couple of days in Yosemite National Park as it’s so huge, but unfortunately, due to time constraints, we only stayed 2 days and 1 night.
How did we get there?
We were staying in San Francisco (an absolutely incredible city) with a friend I had met whilst living in Sydney who had been relocated. Therefore making use of its close proximity to Yosemite and Napa Valley, we based ourselves there for 4 nights. We decided to do an overnight tour from San Francisco to Yosemite National Park – these are very popular and can be found very easily online and from tourism shops in San Francisco, we booked ours through Viator. Yosemite National Park is just over a 4-hour drive from San Francisco so be prepared for an early morning start – we had to get picked up at 6 am. Luckily I was able to sleep on the coach journey there!
As we pulled into the entrance of the park we were given the option to take a short hike to see the giant sequoia trees, which of course we were up for! We were only given an hour to trek there and back so unfortunately we only had time to see one of the trees, if we had more time I would have loved to have spent a whole morning trekking to see masses of the trees together. It was still worth it – grandly towering over us, the tree-tops were seemingly miles away and I remember feeling teeny tiny standing quietly next to the trunk.
Further into the park and we stopped off at several viewpoints, including the famous Tunnel View as seen below. With the cerulean-blue skies, the expansive scattering of greenery and the overlapping clusters of vast rock formations, such a view certainly wouldn’t look out of place on a postcard. Though you may have to fight for a photo spot from the various throngs of tourists, as we did!
Next, we pulled into Yosemite Village of Yosemite Valley, which is where the majority of people visiting Yosemite National Park stay overnight. We then had to bid farewell to our tour group as most of the group had only visited for a day trip. At this point, we were extremely relieved to be staying overnight as the day trippers were being picked up at 2 pm to be driven back to San Francisco – so they wouldn’t have spent much time in the park at all!
We checked in and settled our luggage down into our spacious lodge room, mammoth granite rocks easily seen peeking through our windows. More than satisfied with our stay for the night (it was actually the only place to stay) and increasingly ravenous, we then decided to search for a spot to devour our picnic lunches we had purchased on a stop off during our coach journey.
Invited by the nearby tinkling of Yosemite Falls, we couldn’t think of a better setting to enjoy our food. A 20 minute amble from our lodge, we managed to find a bench perfectly placed facing the falls, offering views of cascading water framed with abundant trees (but hey – not forgetting the masses of tourists!) Word of advice – be careful of the very brave squirrels – Dawn had one jumping all over her trying to snatch her banana! Although it admittedly it was hilarious to watch.
After a bit of wandering and absorbing in our epic surroundings, we headed back to our lodge to rest. We concluded a wonderful day with a delicious dinner in the (surprisingly classy) village restaurant – I can definitely recommend the mushroom cream soup!
A pick-up time of 2 pm, we woke up early to make the most of our limited time. We originally wanted to canoe but were informed it wasn’t the right season, so renting out bicycles was the other option.
It might sound silly but for me, this was kind of a big deal. I had grown up cycling very often and my parents had even taken me on gruelling weekend cycling trips through the New Forest in England, where we literally had to cycle about 8 hours a day. I hated it at the time, but nowadays I’m grateful for the time and seriously impressed with my younger self. However, as I’ve grown older I’ve developed a fear of busy roads and this meant I avoided cycling for up to a decade until I went travelling in SE Asia a couple of years ago.
So when we rented out these bicycles I hadn’t cycled for about 2 years and I was pretty nervous. However, my fear evaporated almost instantly when I hopped on the bike and was soon zooming through Pinetree fringed paths, over timber swinging bridges and past lofty granite cliffs and tranquil lakes. I honestly couldn’t believe how much I loved it after holding onto this fear for so long.
We spent the morning looping round Yosemite Valley, stopping off at points of interest and Instagram-worthy photo stops.
I’m not used to seeing deer in the wild yet there were so many of them standing so elegant and delicate that I was constantly stopping to take a photo.
We concluded our bike ride with another cheap-as-chips picnic lunch bought from the village by the serene Merced River and the Swinging Bridge. I remember feeling so at peace and content in this moment – that’s what Yosemite National Park does to you!