So, we started our epic spring break trip in Lake Tahoe, which was absolutely gorgeous. And in an attempt to fit as much action into a week as possible, and visit all the National Parks in our lifetime (which might be an unreasonable goal, considering how many other places we want to go), we headed to Yosemite next.
I’ve seen a lot of photos of Yosemite (and read 3 Yosemite guidebooks while planning this trip), so I thought I was prepared.
Nothing can prepare you for how incredibly enormous everything is. Yosemite Falls? Gigantic. Half Dome? Huge. El Capitan? Colossal.
We thought about camping during our stay in Yosemite, but apparently campsites in Yosemite book up months (or a year) in advance, even during the cold months, so we stayed in Curry Village instead, which was a pretty darn affordable option. We stayed in canvas tents, equipped with a light, beds, sheets, blankets, and towels. We brought along sleeping bags and extra blankets too, but we were still pretty darn chilly in our tent at night. Let me just say that packing for this trip was insanely difficult. At any point on our trip, temperatures could vary from 28-75 degrees. It was definitely on the low end at night. Brrrr.
Just a heads up if you ever decide to stay in Curry Village, bring some ear plugs. Lots of tents close together = lots of noise.
We only had one full day in Yosemite, so we tried to fit in as much as possible. We started with a hike to Upper Yosemite Falls, a 7.4-mile round-trip hike up 2700 feet. Yosemite Falls is the tallest waterfall in North America, if you can wrap your head around that. The hike was pretty intense, with more than 100 switchbacks and a ton of granite stairs, but goodness, it was worth it.
The trail opened up to views like this one all the time.
It took us about 2 1/2 hours to get to the top. After exploring the overlook and taking in breathtaking views of the valley, we hiked over to the creek and enjoyed a picnic lunch surrounded by the sounds of the waterfall. It was awesome.
On our way up the falls, we only encountered a handful of other people, which gave the illusion that we had the park to ourselves. The way back down was another story. It took us almost as long to hike down as it did to get to the top because there were so many people. Like, hundreds. And since the trail is pretty skinny in a lot of places, that meant standing to the side and waiting for people to pass. A lot. Which is why you should do this hike first thing in the morning. Fewer crowds = happier hikers.
From the bottom of the Upper Yosemite Falls trail, we headed over to Lower Yosemite Falls, just to see the whole thing at once. Goodness, gracious. That’s a big waterfall.
After completing the full Yosemite Falls experience, we headed back to Curry Village to walk to the trailhead for Vernal Fall. This hike was 3 miles round-trip, with an elevation change of 1,050 feet, so it was still pretty challenging. Of course, it didn’t help that we were already worn out from hiking about 10 miles already that day. Let me tell you, this hike was crowded. Overwhelmingly crowded. Miserably crowded. But if you ignored all the people, it was really beautiful.
We had the best weather in Yosemite. It was pretty chilly in the morning, but so gorgeous, sunny, and warm in the afternoon. Oh, the sun. It’s my favorite. And I’m so glad we got to enjoy it all day long. I’m pretty sure we both exhausted the phrase, “This is beautiful.”
After a full day of hiking, we drove up to Tunnel View, where we watched the sunset on Yosemite Valley.
So, Yosemite. You have to go.