Hitting the road early we aimed to get to Yosemite National Park in the day, which we did easily. At just 200 miles or 320kms from San Francisco, depending on your exact destination. Having made good time we decided to head straight into the park and get our bearings. Being early December we needed to find out what roads and vantage points were open. The weather was quickly changing ahead of the coming Winter months, with first snowfall only the day before.
After a twisty drive the road spat us out of a short tunnel to be greeted by the most magnificent view of The Yosemite Valley and we knew we weren’t going to be disappointed. John Muir, the famous Scottish-American naturalist described exactly what lay before us perfectly…….
“The far-famed valley came suddenly into view throughout almost its whole extent: the noble walls, sculptured into endless variety of domes and gables, spires and battlements and plain mural precipices, all a-tremble with the thunder tones of the falling water. The level bottom seemed to be dressed like a garden, sunny meadows here and there and groves of pine and oak, the river of Merced sweeping in majesty through the midst of them and flashing back the sunbeams.”
We drove down to the valley floor into what looked like a fall oasis. Bright golden trees announced the turn of the season, lining the banks of the beautiful Merced River. As a Photographer I was keen to emulate the magical images of Ansel Adams captured in Yosemite National Park……this proved a little harder than I thought!
We followed the valley floor and through the trees and on our left we were teased with glimpses of a cliff face competing with the clouds above.
A short distance down the road El Capitan came into full view, WOW what a sight to behold!
A short distance further on is the start of a hiking trail to one of the parks larger waterfalls, Bridalveil Falls. So, off we went cameras in hand to experience this wonderful cascade. It had only just started to really run, being early in the season. Access to the base of the fall was restricted by a large boulder field, it was an enjoyable short hike.
It was getting late in the day, so we decided to make a run for Tunnel View in time for sunset along with about 30 other photographers, so it turned out. It was suddenly a temporary forest of tripods all jostling to get the best position they could. As it turned out the sunset was a little bit of a fizzer with a lot of cloud cover, but it did make for an interesting shot.
We stayed in cabin style accommodation in a little town called Ahwahnee, about an hour outside the park called. There are a few options within the park but you do need to book well in advance to secure a room. In hindsight the extra travelling in and out of the park after sunset was a bit of a pain, with windy roads nearly all the way and the clouds and fog that rolled in certainly didn’t help.
“There can be nothing in the world more beautiful than the Yosemite, the groves of the giant sequoias and redwoods…and our people should see to it that they are preserved for their children and their children’s children forever, with their majestic beauty all unmarred.”
– President Theodore Roosevelt, 1905
The next day we made a plan to visit two different parts of the park. First up was Glacier Point.
As you make the last sweeping turn at the top of Glacier Point Road, the ground disappears and the full panorama comes into view. It’s almost like a physical slap in your face, definitely a WOW moment that you will never forget. We spent a good couple of hours here taking photos and just trying to take in this incredible vista. The Half Dome in the distance would have to be the most photographed area of the park and the idea of climbing this gigantic cliff face just about sent me into a state of panic….needless to say it was NOT on my agenda for the day.
After devouring our packed lunch with the best view ever, we set off on a little hike, a 2.2 mile (3.5km) round trip to be exact, to Taft Point. We thought Glacier Point was a WOW moment but once we reached the edge of this 7500 foot drop, well let’s just say that we were both speechless and a little out of breath also. It is a Gob smacking beautiful and equally terrifying view from up there that’s for sure!
Walking along the edge I kind of freaked out a little and all the crevasses with large rocks stuck in them didn’t help. So when Steve asked me to take his photo, I was not brave enough to get the whole picture and had to stand well back from the edge.
Being mindful we were hiking alone in bear country we were keen to make it back to the car before sunset. We had also learnt that the temperature drops very quickly once the sun disappears, so we stepped up the pace a little on the way back.
I would highly recommend Yosemite National Park to anyone, there are some “friendly” trails and hikes you can do in the park along with specific Summer and Winter activities. The National Parks in the US are fantastic when it comes to accessible information and one of the better sites to visit is myyosemtiepark.com. If you are going to be visiting a lot of parks I would suggest you purchase the year’s pass here, but be aware the State Parks and the National parks are different entities and the pass cannot be used for entry into both.
Hope you enjoyed the photography and if you have visited here too I’d love to hear your experiences and see your images? We can add them to the gallery at the bottom of this post to share with others, just send us a short description and your best photo?