Visiting Yosemite National Park

Thanks to the screening of our film ‘Bachelor Girls’ in San Francisco and Oakland, we were traveling in California. And no trip to California is complete without visiting its fabulous outdoors with Yosemite National Park on top on our list.

Yosemite National Park lies in the Western part of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the North of California, USA. The Sierra Nevada are a beautiful range running almost 400 miles north to south, and includes many beautiful natural landscapes including Lake Tahoe, the largest Alpine Lake in America.

Since this was March (2017) the weather forecasts showed plenty of snow with many places in the park rendered inaccessible. So we had to cancel our reservations at Yosemite and instead went to Death Valley. Next week was clearer and we drove to the beautiful Yosemite. There is something extremely visceral about being with nature. And you get a very strong spiritual essence of this as you come closer to a large piece of untrampled wilderness. How we wish more of our beautiful planet was conserved for this very deep connect that we have with the land. We found an excellent stay at Fish Camp in a lovely place called the Narrow Gauge Inn. Surrounded by dense alpine greenery, this was the perfect introduction to Yosemite, The drive from Fish Camp to Yosemite Valley is roughly 36 miles, but it’s beautiful and through winding roads uphill with gentle snow flakes hitting our windscreen, setting the mood for what we were to see ahead.

The first thing that strikes you is the stunning natural beauty of the park. It’s no wonder that John Muir, the celebrated conservationist, fell in love with the Sierra Nevada mountains. Be sure to stop by the visitor center for information and maps/guides. The clarity with which everything is organised and labelled will ensure you are able to enjoy the park on your own. There are parking lots inside, a large convenience store, trails are marked out, the visitor centres will provide all the maps and information, washrooms etc.

If you happen to visit around Winter (check park website for details, but its generally November to March), a lot of the higher elevations and north entrances will be shut. The beautiful Yosemite Valley is open throughout the year.

We could hence see only the valley. Beautiful as it is, we missed seeing the higher elevations like the Tuolumne Meadows and Groves, the Mariposa Groves, etc.

What to see At Yosemite National Park: The Park itself is a beautiful piece of the Sierra Nevada mountains. The landscape itself is gorgeous. Add to that the Giant Sequoia trees that grow to over 300 feet in height and some 30 feet in diameter. These are ancient trees and can now be seen in only three groves (the rest were chopped away by the timber industry before the park was notified for preservation): The Mariposa Grove (near the South Entrance), and the Tuolumne and Merced Groves near Crane Flat. For the latter two, a 2/3 mile hike up an elevation is required. Again, check park website for current conditions. If you have the time and energy for hikes, make sure you do them. The park is best explored on foot. Enquire about the best trails for your time at the Visitor Center. Be careful of wild bears and ask for advice and information at the Visitor Center. Once inside the park, a shuttle bus service can take you quickly to points of interest.

In the summers you will be able to drive right up to Glacier Point. Taft Point and Sentinel Dome are also reachable in the summers and offer a grand view of the valley below. If coming from the South Entrance, Tunnel View offers a fantastic introductory view to the valley and the waterfall. The Bridalveil Falls in the Yosemite Valley are easily reachable. The Lembert Dome is another granite rock hills worth seeing. Olmstead Point offers a rare view of the Half Dome. The Tuolumne Meadow is gorgeous gentle meadow along the Tuolumne River. Can only be reached in late spring or summer.

In winters, spring or fall, a lot of the park will be closed. However you can be assured the South Entrance remains open, and so does the Yosemite Valley. Here you can visit the meadows, Half Dome, El Capitan, Merced River, Bridalveil Falls etc. Do check the National Park Service website for details on what is accessible during your visit.

Geting There: There are 5 park entrances at Yosemite. You can choose any of them based on weather, your starting point, your enthusiasm and any combination of these. (1) The Northern most entrance is the Hetch Hetchy via Highway 120. It may be shut for winters. (2) If you drive from the San Francisco Bay area, you are most like to attempt the Big Oak Flat Entrance. (3) Coming from San Francisco side you could also try the Arch Rock Entrance. It is likely to remain open year round. The closest town here is El Portal where you can find stay, restaurants, gas, shopping etc. (4) South Entrance via Fishcamp if you are coming via Los Angeles or that direction. Fish Camp is a cute tiny town, where you can find stay, food, shopping, etc. (5) Tioga Pass Entrance in the East is an option if you are coming from that direction but it is closed in Winters.

The best place to stay of course inside the park. All the information can be found very easily on the National Park Service website.


Tunnel View, Yosemite National Park
The classic ‘Tunnel View’ as you enter Yosemite from the South Entrance via Wawona.
El Capitan, Yosemite National Park
The El Capitan and its meadows in the Yosemite Valley. It is one of the world’s largest granite monolithic rock.
Yosemite National Park
Another view of granite rocks and meadows with wetalands…
Ponderosa Pines, Yosemite National Park
Ponderaso Pines (Pinus ponderosa) of the lower montane forest in Yosemite National Park.
Ponderosa Pines, Yosemite National Park
Walking amidst the tall ponderosa pines.
Trek in Yosemite National Park
We went for a trek through these pines into the meadows and just followed the river Merced…
Moss in Yosemite National Park
At this elevations, snow several feet deep for many months a year is quite common. This moisture creates favourable grounds for moss as can be seen on this tree and rock.
Merced River, Yosemite National Park
Walking along the Merced River
Mirror lake, Yosemite National Park
A panoramic view of the famous Mirror lake at Yosemite
Landscape at Mirror Lake, Yosemite
Granite rocks, wetlands and vegetation at Yosemite Valley next to Mirror Lake
Mirror Lake, Yosemite National Park
More of the beautiful Mirror Lake, Yosemite National Park
Parking Lot, Yosemite Village
A parking lot at Yosemite Village. On the right is a large convenience store. One can see snow on the granite hill in the front.
Yosemite National Park
Melting snows create many a waterfall in Yosemite.
Merced River, Yosemite National Park
The River Merced meanders through dense Montane Forests…
Merced River, Yosemite National Park
As we walked the trails, dusk was setting in, compounded by thick forests along the Merced River.
Merced River in dusk, Yosemite National Park
The flow of the river is gorgeous Merced River against the fading light…
Happy Isles, Yosemite National Park
Walking across the Merced river to happy Isles.
Merced River, Yosemite
The gushing Merced River…
Ahwahnee Village, Yosemite National Park
In the Yosemite Valley is a recreation and preservation of an ancient village of Ahwahnee Native Indians, the original inhabitants of this area. Do visit it.
Ahwahnee Village Museum, Yosemite Valley
I have always been fascinated by the Native Indian life of North Americam, especially since so little of it remains today. Do visit this village recreated for the Yosemite Valley Museum.
Ahwahnee Hut, Yosemite Valley
Little conical huts made of wood and grass served to protect against the long harsh winters of Yosemite for the native Ahwahnee Indians
Ahwahnee Village, Yosemite Valley
The lifestyle of the Ahwahnee Indians was closely linked to nature and hence Yosemite. We have a lot to learn from them in terms of co-existence and forest management.
Yosemite Post Office
The Yosemite Post Office Building. This post office was established in 1869.
Yosemite valley Meadow.
A gorgeous view of the meadows with the famous Half Dome on the left.
Yosemite Valley.
In the Yosemite Valley, excellent motorable roads can quickly take you around…
Yosemite Valley
Can’t get enough of these meadows and granite hills…
Yosemite Village Store, Yosemite National Park
To Yosemite Village Store. Stop here for food, water, souvenirs, washrooms, parking, essentials… you name it. If you are camping in Yosemite, you can get your supplies here.
Log benches, Yosemite National Park
Log benches give ample space to lounge and rest…
Walking to Bridal veil Falls, Yosemite National Park
Wooden trails like this ensure you dont walk on the fragile ecosystem beneath. Shikha walking to Bridal Veil Falls, Yosemite National Park.
Yosemite National Park
We are eternally grateful to the work of all the conservationists who helped protect these treasures for all of Earth…
Clouds in Yosemite National Park
And then clouds engulf these beautiful mountains…
Yosemite National Park
We are eternally grateful to conservationists who worked hard to ensure such natural treasures are preserved forever…
A View Through Time, Yosemite National Park
About the Yosemite National Park
Clouds in Yosemite National Park
The clouds themselves do not hide but adorn the beauty of this landscape…
The California ground squirrel (Otospermophilus beecheyi)in Yosemite Valley
The California ground squirrel (Otospermophilus beecheyi) in Yosemite Valley
Waterfall in Yosemite National Park
Another falls through the pines…
Moss in Yosemite National Park
Moss on tree trunks…
The hoary comma (Polygonia gracilis) mud puddling
The hoary comma (Polygonia gracilis) butterfly mud puddles in Yosemite. Butterflies do this to suck nutrients from moist soil and carrion, including salts and amino acids…
Mirror Lake, Yosemite National Park
The Mirror Lake Meadows is great place to hang around and catch your breath before you walk along the Merced River
The Steller's jay (Cyanocitta stelleri)
A Steller’s Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri) in Yosemite National Park
 dark-eyed junco (Junco hyemalis)
A Dark-Eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)… if you are patient you can spot a lot of wildlife here.
American robin (Turdus migratorius) in Yosemite Valley
An American Robin (Turdus migratorius) at one of the meadows in Yosemite Valley

[box type=”success” width=”100%” ]When to visit: Like all natural landscapes, all times are good for visiting Yosemite National Park. However, in the winters it snows a lot and most of the higher elevation areas are shut down. Spring is fantastic. Wildflowers bloom in the summers and waterfalls are aplenty. In the month of May the crowds are still manageable. Plan your visit accordingly.

Where to stay: There are a few stay options inside the Yosemite Village although they get booked very soon. The Ahwahnee Hotel, also known as the Majestic Yosemite Hotel is a luxury choice and since its expensive, one can generally find a room.[/box]


12 thoughts on “Visiting Yosemite National Park”

  1. Beautiful pictures Param. I’m sure you guys had a great time. Those humongous granites are so amazing, right?

    This place has become one of my favourite places. And I just got back from another trip to Yosemite and there is so much more to see and do there. What a fascinating place!!

    We got to go to Glacier Point this time and the views from there were mindblowing!!

    • We had a lovely time for sure! Yosemite’s got something, hasn’t it? we feel like coming back too! We wanted to go till Glacier Point as well but the weather didn’t permit! Soon I am sure…

  2. Stunning beauty…How wonderful to have all the info available at the infokiosk. I’m pretty amazed how some places) countries have well organized information systems in place. Great help to the tourists.

  3. What beautiful pictures, Param! That ‘Tunnel View’ shot is my favorite for there is this sense of beauty and mystery in the majestic setting. As usual, lovely wildlife shots as well!

  4. Pictures of the blog is so good. I liked it a lot.
    Actually i never visited there but after seeing i want to see this once for sure.
    Such a beautiful place this is. I was feeling so good when i was reading this.
    Thanks for sharing this with us.

  5. Wow ! This is so good .
    And the way you have chosen that’s so great.
    This article is so interesting and beautiful too.
    You shared this with us i am so glad.

  6. Simply breathtaking pictures. I wish we could develop our Himalayan heritages into such beautiful National Park concept. The first picture actually reminds me of the Niti pass in Uttarakhand, if no less. I have bookmarked this page for the plans. Thanks a lot..


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