Sequoia National Park and Yosemite National Park are two of the most spectacular natural wonders in the United States. Both parks offer a wide variety of outdoor activities, from hiking and camping to rock climbing and bird watching.
Sequoia is known for its giant sequoia trees, some of which are over 3,000 years old and tower above 250 feet. Yosemite, on the other hand, is renowned for its granite cliffs, waterfalls, and valleys, including famous landmarks such as Half Dome and El Capitan.
A trip to both parks will provide visitors with a chance to experience the natural beauty and diversity of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Whether you’re a nature lover, a hiker, or a photographer, a trip to Sequoia and Yosemite is a must-do.
Yosemite is one of my favourite places to visit in the United States. This stunning national park is a 5-hour drive from Los Angeles and makes for a great road trip from southern California.
Known for its plunging waterfalls, giant sequoia trees, and sheer granite cliffs you could easily spend weeks exploring Yosemite National Park. The park has a distinct appeal no matter what time of year. Spring brings gushing waterfalls, summer allows for tackling all outdoor pursuits, fall boasts colourful trees and fewer crowds, and winter becomes a snowy wonderland for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
1. Yosemite valley
Yosemite Valley is world-famous for its impressive waterfalls, rolling meadows, sheer cliffs, and unusual rock formations. After a long day of hiking, climbing, or skiing, adventurers can put their feet up and grab a bite in Yosemite Valley, where you’ll find the bulk of the park’s amenities and accommodations.
2. Yosemite Falls
Discover the highest waterfall in North America and the sixth largest in the world: Yosemite Falls. At 2,424 feet, the waterfall is a major attraction in the park, located in the central Sierra Nevada mountain range of California. It’s best viewed in late spring when snowmelt flows most vigorously.
3. El Capitan
Towering 3,593 feet above the Yosemite Valley floor, El Capitan is the undisputed king of the granite monoliths and a mecca for daredevil rock climbers. Get a good look at the earth’s largest single piece of granite from El Capitan Meadow. With a pair of binoculars, you can even watch the climbers inch their way up The Nose.
In Yosemite Valley, El Capitan Meadow provides a view straight up El Capitan and a great view of Cathedral Rocks, as well. Located along one-way Northside Drive, it is best to stop here on your way out of Yosemite Valley.
4. Half Dome
The famous half dome is a 14-16 mile round trip with an elevation gain of almost 5,000 ft. The last 400 ft to the summit is done with cables. Many people call it quits before then, but I can’t wait to go back for this challenge. A permit is needed only for the cable portion at the very end, and a “Daily Lottery” drawing happens 48 hours in advance here.
I hiked Mist Trail which takes you to Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls making it a whopping 6.4-mile trip. I really liked this hike because it didn’t remind me of the Upper Yosemite switchbacks, plus it was a short hike with less elevation gain. If you have a car, park at Half Dome Village and take a shuttle or walk 1 mile to the trailhead from the village parking lot.
One of the West’s most photographed landmarks, Half Dome inspires awe from every angle. Hardcore hikers can trek to its summit (permits are required); everybody else can admire its sheared-off granite from afar. Check out the perspective from Mirror Lake at the base of the stone monolith or drive up to the Washburn Point overlook on Glacier Point Road.
5. Tuolumne Meadows
Lace up your boots and wander easy trails along the Tuolumne River or more rugged paths to the summits of lofty domes and granite-backed alpine lakes Time your trip to Tuolumne Meadows carefully—this 8,600-foot high country is accessible only from June to October.
6. Wawona Tunnel View
The vista from Tunnel View is one of Yosemite’s most iconic scenes, made famous by an Ansel Adams photograph. From the Wawona Tunnel’s eastern side, shoot your own postcard panorama of Yosemite Valley, El Capitan, Half Dome, and Bridalveil Fall. Or hike the Pohono Trail uphill for an even bigger view where you can enjoy the scenery in relative solitude.
7. Ahwahnee Yosemite Dining Room
Grandeur rules at The Ahwahnee Dining Room. Bounded by massive timbered walls, its 34-foot-high ceilings are dotted with dozens of wrought iron chandeliers. Enormous picture windows framed by heavy draperies let in views of Yosemite Valley. The dining room seats 400 people—and there’s no bad seat in the house, especially at Sunday brunch.
With ceilings over 30 feet high and massive windows that take in the surrounding views, the dining room evokes a feeling of grandness and opulence. This is the setting for some of the world’s most famous food and wine events: Bracebridge Dinner, Vintners’ Holidays, and Chefs’ Holidays. The food and service are absolutely amazing.
8. Glacier Point
Glacier Point’s 7,214-foot overlook provides an unforgettable vista of Yosemite Valley and the High Sierra crest. Stand at the stone walls to survey Vernal, Nevada Falls, and the Merced River canyon, or walk inside the granite Geology Hut to peer out at Half Dome. Best time to visit? Sunrise or sunset, when Half Dome and its granite neighbours turn pink.
9. Ahwahnee Hotel
The Ahwahnee Hotel is located in the majestic, jaw-dropping main valley inside Yosemite Park near the base of Half Dome and Glacier Point. This hotel, built-in 1927 is a National Historic Landmark and one of the most distinctive resort hotels in North America.
Yosemite National Park is a must-visit for nature lovers, hikers, and photographers. Known for its plunging waterfalls, giant sequoia trees, and sheer granite cliffs, it offers a variety of activities and attractions year-round, including Yosemite Valley, Yosemite Falls, El Capitan, Half Dome, Tuolumne Meadows, and Wawona Tunnel View. It’s one of the best places to visit in the United States and a great option for a COVID road trip from Southern California.
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