Sunday, July 6, 2014

Yosemite National Park, California

You should know by my previous posts that I am addicted to visiting national parks!  During a recent vacation to Northern California we were able to visit Yosemite National Park plus Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.  This blog post will cover out visit to Yosemite.

The sign as you enter the park.  Many cars passed by this but I was looking out for it.
I have noticed that most park signs have a limited area to park and you have to really be prepared to stop quickly.  This one did have a nice sized parking area but we had to turn in BEFORE the sign.  There was also a post to hold a camera (for a group picture).  I had never seen one of those - it was very handy!
But - I am getting ahead of myself.  We actually stayed the night just outside of the northern park entrance so we could have the next day to explore.   Here's that experience:

Advertised as just 10 minutes from the park entrance.  Our room shared a wall with the restaurant that was part of the same building.  No amenities for this place.  Our room was outdated but had a nice huge bathroom.  However, the bathroom was not clean!  There was a bar of soap stuck to the wall of the shower, words written on the mirror that showed perfectly when it steamed up, and there were half used shampoo bottles on the floor of the shower.  It made me wonder what else hadn't been cleaned!

As we got out of the car (keep in mind it was late so it was dark - unlike this picture) we heard exterior music that reminded me so much of a horror movie!  It all turned out okay (we lived to see another day) but it was still creepy!

There is another hotel next door that shares the same office, has a pool, and many rooms.
We stayed in the the hotel that is in the bottom of this picture - room 601.
The vacant gas station next to our hotel.
Seriously, have you ever seen the movie Vacancy?
I barely slept that night!
And this is the BEAUTIFUL place that you can stay at in the park!  Of course you have to make your reservations a year in advance and it is much more expensive than the hotel we stayed at...
The Ahwahnee Hotel
Map of the park.  We were just doing a quick visit so I focused on the loop/Yosemite Valley that includes the main area of the park.
A closer look at the loop/Yosemite Valley.
There is a fee to get into the park.  We opted to purchase a yearly park pass since we have many national parks on our bucket list for this year.

I thought it was very interesting when I discovered that the main portion of Yosemite is one big loop.   You drive in one way, visit the village, and then drive out the other way.
There are MANY amazing views!!!  I highly recommend stopping at every turnout to take a look around.  I was amazed at how each one had a great view to offer!  And they all seemed to be so very different from the others!

El Capitan

The village:  You do have to park and walk.  The walk isn't bad (10 minute hike) and they have a great path to follow (mostly paved).  They do offer a shuttle for those that have a hard time getting around.  We saw many people riding bikes too.

A portion of the path.

There are museums in the village.

This museum is connected to the parks visitors center.

This is a section of a Native American Village you can explore.  

The 2nd museum in the village we visited.

The back side of this museum has a larger sample of what a Native American village would have looked like .
There are paths around this but you can not explore inside.

A museum in honor of my favorite landscape photographer!

There are tons of places to eat, shop and hang out.  We found one place that offered a-la-cart prepared food, another place that was a sit down restaurant, and we found an amazing grocery store (much better than I expected - and they had the penny smash machine that we collect).  They also offer movies and a post office.
More AMAZING views on the way out of the park!!!

From our stop at the "Tunnel View" parking area on the way out of the park.

Our quick visit didn't leave time for hiking but here are some hikes that I thought were worth sharing.  

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