This is part three of the epic road trip Chris and I took last week. We started in Hollywood Hills, Los Angeles for a night and camped in Sequoia National Park the next. In this post I’ll recap our trip when we headed north to Yosemite for a few nights.
It was both our first times visiting Yosemite and it couldn’t have gone better! Yosemite is one of those iconic national parks that everyone knows and has definitely seen on more than a few postcards. It was unreal to think we could just casually plan a trip but we did and it was just as awesome as expected!
It took us about 3 hours to drive from Sequioia National Forest to the South entrence of Yosemite. (Including stopping at Starbucks in Fresno to charge up our phones after a night of camping. Did you guys know they have almond milk now!? Finally!) The parks definitely look closer together on a map, but the mountain roads add to the drive time. Nonetheless, it is still a must-do!
$30 entrance fee. Seems a bit excessive but its good for 7 days entry. I think they should restructure the pricing for people only visiting for 1-2 days but, that’s just me. Maybe its worth investing in the year pass for $80 in the future.
Where to Stay:
We totally lucked into getting the last heated tent cabin at Half Dome Village. After 20-something degree camping in Sequoia we decided we needed to book something warm for the following nights. Half Dome Village was such an awesome find! I booked it right from the Yosemite site, they have all their lodging right on the website so it is super simple. Half Dome Village is right in the middle of Yosemite Valley, and obviously next to Half Dome. This means you’re in the perfect spot to be close to hikes, viewpoints and catch some amazing sunsets when the sun turns Half Dome rock pink for a quick minute every evening.
We got a heated canvas tent (heat was necessary for us but if going in summer I would say a regular would be totally fine) it had a full bed and 2 twins, so it’d even be good for a group! And super cheap. The village also had a market which surprising had so much supplies and really good snacks, a pizza place, a bar and a cafe which had a variety of options for breakfast. And Yosemite offers a free shuttle to some of the biggest points in the valley area which had a stop right outside. We didn’t take it cause we had a car but I could see how that would be helpful!
Needless to say…our first impression of Yosemite was surprisingly how accommodating and easy everything was. Almost like Disney. Not that that’s a bad thing, but totally not what we pictured! There even was cell service EVERYWHERE.
Panorama Point Trail – This was definitely one of the highlights of our time in Yosemite. There’s a few options on how most people do this trail. We didn’t follow any of the typical routes and did it our own way because of course, we have to be different. We drove from the valley up to Glacier Point, which was about an hour drive in the park. Most people take a bus tour from the village area to Glacier Point for $25 each, which needs to be booked in advance. Then they hike down from Glacier Point to the bottom of the trail at Vernal Falls and take the free shuttle back to their starting point. That option is about 8.5 miles one way. Alternatively, some people start at the 4-mile trail on the valley floor, and do the 4.8 mile hike up from there to Glacier Point and then continue on to the Panorama Trail for a total of almost 15 miles. We were totally down for that option until we realized the free shuttle didn’t take you to the start of 4-mile trail and we would have to start at sunrise to have enough time to finish before sunset.
Our way turned out being amazing! We started at about 12 and hiked out til about 3 where we stopped at Illilouette Falls for lunch before continuing back to Glacier Point. We went out about a mile past the falls and made sure to stop at the Panorama Vista Point. I had read about it online but the viewpoint isn’t marked so we were really excited to find it! The trail has amazing views of Half Dome, Vernal Fall, Nevada Fall, Illilouette Fall, Yosemite Fall, and of course panoramic views of the entire valley. Even though we didn’t make it all the way to Nevada Fall we were able to stop off about an hour and a half into the trail and find a great view point of all the falls together. There was water still flowing but from what I’ve heard it tappers of quickly in October so we got lucky! Yosemite rates this trail has hard but it truly was more like moderate for anyone in decent shape/hikes often. I highly recommend it not only for the sake of getting amazing view points but for the opportunity to connect back to nature away from all the crowds!
Glacier Point – Another reason why our hike on Panorama Trail went so well was the fact that we timed it perfectly with sunset. Glacier Point view point has amazing views of Half Dome because you’re at a similar elevation directly across form the valley. Chris made a really beautiful timelapse of the sun setting which I’ll post on Instagram! Bring a blanket if you think of it, it was pretty cold up there once the sun set.
Stoneman Meadow – This was another great place to catch a different view of Half Dome at sunset. Its meadow right across from the Half Dome Village parking lot, you’ll see a boardwalk that leads to a campsite. Just continue to the left toward the river. Depending where you stand you can catch some some cool views of the mountains in the river reflection.
Tunnel View– Another classic viewpoint in Yosemite. This stop is right past the tunnel coming from the south (hence the name) and definitely worth a few stops to check out the view of El Capitan and the valley.
Yosemite Valley Falls – This was a super easy walk through to where the falls were, so good for anyone! Unfortunately there was no water at this fall because we went in October, but it would be neat in the summer for sure.
If you missed part one, Hollywood, or part two, Sequoia National Park catch up here! Be on the look our for our final leg of the road trip in Venice Beach later this week.