Yosemite was partially just like imagined it, and then not at all what I had imagined. It was gorgeous, beautiful, stunning, breathtaking, all of the words and no words at the same time. The views will make you want to just sit and stare for hours. It was also very crowded, difficult to navigate, and the hiking was more strenuous than moderate. And being a newbie hiker that I am was a little frustrating.
We did get spoiled by the ease of Zion National Park, and I expected Yosemite to be much like that. In Zion everything was mapped out very well, you had a lot of details about each hike, and the buses were quick and efficient. At Yosemite, we definitely wandered a couple of times not quite sure if we were headed in the right direction (down in the valley, NOT on hikes!), not as much information about the hikes, and the buses were slow and unpredictable.
But… just look at these pictures, and they really don’t do it justice…
1) It’s a long drive
- Once you get into the park be prepared to drive at least 30 minutes more to get to the valley. That’s where you’ll see the falls, find parking, cafes, and some trails.
2) Get there early and park
- We got there before 9am, and I’d suggest you do the same. We were able to park just fine, but there was no way we could move the truck later in the day. Had we known this we would’ve gotten on our bikes immediately and taken them with us instead of walking and trying to use the buses that go around the park.
3) The buses are too full
- There are not enough buses going around. While we were there, there were only 6 buses running. We finally got on one, did our hike, and when we got back to the bus stop the line was so long it would’ve taken a couple hours to get on one. So we walked.
4) Bring or rent bikes
- You’re not going to want to walk for miles and do hikes. So I suggest bringing or renting bikes. They’re not that expensive to rent them there if you don’t want to use your own, and it’s worth it instead of killing your feet or waiting forever on a bus. You can just jump on your bike and go!
5) It really is as beautiful as it seems
- We’re not big fans of crowds, but I think everyone should go at least once. If you’d like to stay in the park (which I recommend, especially if you’re driving in from a distance away) you’re going to need to plan ahead (like a year ahead) and get your spot booked. You’re going to see beautiful waterfalls and be able to go on some fun, but strenuous hikes.
6) Hiking is challenging
- Pick which hikes you want to go on and do them first thing in the morning. Don’t wait! We went on the only “moderate” hike there was and we went in the afternoon. Too many people and it made us a little nervous because the last portion of it is climbing up 600 flights of stairs. And if you go in the springtime they’re going to be wet because the snow has melted and the beautiful waterfall is very powerful. We’re used to a bit more moderate hikes being available, but when you’re down in the valley it’s straight up the sides of the gorgeous rocks. It’s beautiful – breathtaking really. But very challenging. So, while you’re planning your trip make sure you’re working out! Because you want to be able to go on some of the harder hikes to get some stunning pictures.
Plan before you go, that’s my advice. And take tons of pictures. It’s a beautiful place to visit! Have you ever been to Yosemite or is it on your bucket list?