After LA and a two night stay in a little town called Fresno, we arrived in Yosemite.
We had gotten up early to drive there at the crack of dawn as we were told there can be really long queues to enter the park; not to mention that finding parking can be a problem. Our trick seemed to work though as we literally drove straight in and parked up without any issues.
We stayed in Half Dome Village which is right in the middle of Yosemite and so is super close to all of the main sites.
There are two bus stops in Half Dome and so it’s really easy to jump on and off the free shuttle bus that drives you around the park. The amenities in Half Dome are great too – there’s a main restaurant, a coffee shop, ice cream parlour, burger place, a bar and a shop. There is also a kind of ‘common room’ which has big comfy chairs and sofas and lots of tables, where you can chill and use the free WiFi, as there is a severe lack of signal in Yosemite!
There’s a reception and a little information hut where you can find out everything you want to know about Yosemite as well.
Check in wasn’t until 3pm so we left our stuff in the car (hidden, so not to attract bears) and went on our first hike to Vernal Falls. It was a 4 hour round trip and it was worth every second. It was up hill and at some points very wet (as we were literally next to the waterfall) and very steep, but it was incredible. The views as you’re going up are phenomenal and reaching the top of the waterfall felt like such an achievement and it was just magical.
At the top, we sat on a big rock in the middle of the river and had a snack before embarking on the way down. I say way down, but we actually went a lot higher up before we started to descend, as we followed the advice of the rangers and went the safer way down.
The whole time I was on the lookout for bears, as Yosemite is renowned for brown bears. As we had got to the bottom and were walking back to the bus stop, I spotted one running through the woods in the not so far distance and I was so happy!
We went back to Half Dome afterwards and checked into our Wooden Cabin. Lucky enough, the wooden cabins are bear proof and so we didn’t need to put any of our food/drinks/toiletries away in bear-proof lockers, like you do if you stay in the tent cabins.
After chilling out in the common room, we went out on our second trek of the day, to Lower Yosemite falls. This was only an hour round-trip so we went during dusk, in order to see the falls in sunset. We got pretty close to the falls and it was magical, sitting on a log, admiring the views.
It got dark pretty quickly though so finding our way back to the bus stop was a bit difficult and at first we went the complete opposite way! Having been excited to see a bear all day (as mentioned earlier) I was now absolutely petrified one would be near us! My rationale was that in the day I can see them so am able to run away if I need to, but when it’s dark, they could be next to me and I wouldn’t know!
Anyway, we eventually made our way back to the bus stop and had the funniest bus driver during this ride! He turned the bus lights off and just sang the whole way back!
This day, we got up early and went to the coffee shop for breakfast, before embarking on part of the Upper Yosemite Falls trail to Columbia rock. This was another 4 hour round trip and we decided to go only as far as Columbia rock because to get to the top of Upper Yosemite Falls, it was an 8 hour trip and we were not fit enough for that!
Upon reaching Columbia rock, we got some breathtaking views of Yosemite National Park. We couldn’t believe how high we had gotten and looking down at what was beneath us was just crazy.
We did end up going a little further than Columbia Rock in the end (about 15 minutes further) and got an amazing view of Upper Yosemite Falls – so it’s definitely worth trekking the extra little bit!
It’s important to note that there are no toilets or water fountains on this trail – so be prepared if you ever do it. We filled up two big bottles of water and took them with us as the weather is hot and you can get dehydrated pretty quickly. God knows how people cope doin the Full 8 hour trail to the top of Upper Yosemite Falls!
Similarly to the day before, we headed back to Half Dome and chilled for a bit before heading out again later that afternoon, where we visited Mirror Lake…
…and that reflection is why this area got its name. How beautiful is it?!
From getting off of the bus, this was about an hour all round trip but of course the longer you stay at mirror lake, the longer your trip will be.
That evening, we bought some drinks and a pack of cards and spent the evening in the common room. Not having signal on our phones, a laptop or a TV was actually so nice!
This was the day we were leaving, so after grabbing breakfast in the restaurant and mixing with the wildlife, we packed up our stuff and headed out of Half Dome.
Before leaving the parking completely, we drove to Bridal Veil Falls for our last expedition. We got really close to the bottom of the waterfall and it was amazing.
We were in Yosemite at the same time as the forest fires this summer and Bridal Veil was the closest site you go to, that was near the fires. Due to this, the air was grey and smokey but it took nothing away from the falls itself. The sound of the gushing water and the atmosphere was just so serene, despite all of the tourists that were around.
The one place we were itching to go to, Glacier Point, was closed off because of the fires though, so we were a bit gutted about that.
If you ever get the chance to visit Yosemite – PLEASE GO! It is an experience that words cannot even define. It’s just truly magical.
Let me know if you’ve ever been to Yosemite and/or if you’re looking to go!
Also please give me a heads up on what you think of my travel diaries, as I’d love to know!
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