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. We covered 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 lots of photos and some details on our experience at the park.
I would have 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 two days and one night. Here’s what we got up to.
Travelling to Yosemite National Park
The three of us were staying in San Francisco with a friend I had met whilst living in Sydney who had been recently relocated. Therefore, making use of its proximity to Yosemite and Napa Valley, we had based ourselves in San Francisco for four nights.
We decided to take an overnight tour from San Francisco to Yosemite National Park. These tours are very popular and can be found online and from tourist shops in San Francisco. We booked ours through Viator.
Yosemite National Park is just over a four-hour drive from San Francisco so if you travel from the city be prepared for an early morning start. We had to get picked up at six AM. Luckily, I was able to sleep on the coach journey.
Yosemite National Park: Day One
As our coach pulled into the entrance of the park, we were given the option to take a short hike to see the giant sequoia trees. Of course, we were up for it.
We were only given a mere hour to trek to the trees and back so unfortunately, we only had time to see one of the sequoias. 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 though. Grandly towering over us, the tree-tops were seemingly miles away and I remember feeling teeny tiny standing quietly next to the trunk.
As we ventured further into the park, 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 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. This is where the majority of people visiting Yosemite National Park stay overnight.
We then had to bid farewell to the rest of our tour group as most of the group had only visited for a day trip. At this point, we were relieved to be staying overnight. The day-trippers were being picked up at two PM to be driven back to San Francisco, so they wouldn’t have spent much time the magnificent park at all.
We checked in and settled our luggage down into our spacious lodge roomspacious lodge room with the mammoth granite rocks 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 decided to search for a spot to devour the 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 brought us to a bench placed facing the falls.
We were treated to views of cascading water framed with an abundance of trees (but hey – not forgetting the masses of tourists) as we munched on our sandwiches.
Word of advice – be careful of the very brave squirrels. Dawn had one jumping all over her trying to snatch her banana, which was admittedly 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.
Yosemite National Park: Day Two
As it was a pick-up time of two pm the following day, we woke up early to make the most of our limited time. We wanted to canoe but were informed it wasn’t the right season, so renting out bicycles was another 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 eight hours a day. I hated it at the time, but nowadays I’m grateful for the time and I’m 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 bicycles in Yosemite National Park, I hadn’t cycled for about two years and I was pretty nervous.
However, my fear evaporated when I hopped on the frame. I was soon zooming through Pinetree fringed paths, over timber swinging bridges, past lofty granite cliffs, and near tranquil lakes. I couldn’t believe how much I loved cycling after holding onto this fear for such a long time.
We spent the morning looping around 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 beautifully that I was constantly stopping to take a photo.
We concluded our bike ride with another cheap-as-chips picnic lunch bought from a store in Yosemite Village. We sat quietly by serene Merced River and the Swinging Bridge to enjoy it. I remember feeling so at peace and content at the moment – that’s what Yosemite National Park does to you.
Want to learn more about my adventures in the USA? Click here.