U.S. National Parks, USA Travel

Yosemite National Park – A UNESCO World Heritage Site | Exploring California

Yosemite National Park is one of the most majestic and breathtaking valleys on Earth. It is more than a place to take photos for the gram (Instagram); Yosemite is a place to recharge and to be grateful that you are alive, and living on this planet. There are no words to truly describe this magical place, you just have to be there, breathe it, walk it, touch it and feel her energy. For those who have been, they always say “I love Yosemite”, but I think those three words barely scratch the surface of the wonderous feelings when visiting Yosemite National Park.

Yosemite National Park became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.

View of Half Dome

Ansel Adams, one of Yosemite’s greatest photographers once said, “Yosemite Valley, to me, is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and golden wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space.”

I have been to Yosemite twice and both times were magical. The first time I visited, we entered through the Highway 120, Groveland entrance, since we were road tripping through California. The second time, we came in from the east through Tioga Pass/ Lee Vining, since we were driving in from Nevada. Both drives were very long but beautiful. There is no quick way to get into Yosemite, it is quite hidden and I am grateful for that.

Drive from the Groveland Entrance

There are five entrances into the park and each will give you tremendous views of the valley. Each entrance has different attractions and view points, but whichever one you choose make sure that you are completely gassed up before entering the park. There are gas stations in the little towns before each entrance.

Please check Yosemite National Park’s website for current road closures before traveling.

The entrance fee into Yosemite National Park is $35 per vehicle (2021 price) and is good for seven days. Depending on when you are reading this, there is currently a reservation process during these Covid-19 days. I had made a reservation online last year, only to cancel it when California tightened up on their restrictions. Making a reservation online is easy, but spaces are limited so reserve as soon as you can!

Reservation information: Fees & Passes – Yosemite National Park (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)

The drives into Yosemite are some of the best scenery this country has to offer. The roads are two-lane passes that are cut into the mountains and are very windy. Depending on the time of year you go, the landscapes can change due to the snow and foliage. We had gone both times in August and everything was green and beautiful, although the waterfalls were not as plentiful due to the snow melt that happens more in the Springtime. California is also in a drought, so depending on when you go the rivers and falls may not be as full.

Roadside Waterfall.

The drives into the park are phenomenal and can take a lot of time, so do not rush. There are many views and outlooks with pullouts, it may seem that you are pulling over every five minutes! Just when you thought you saw the best view yet, a few minutes later a lake or rockface makes an appearance. My advice, keep your camera ready and be nimble to jump in and out of your car. 📸

Tenaya Lake View


— Accomodations —

There are several styles of accomodations inside and outside the park. My advice is to always stay inside a national park and I have done it in several of them. In my experience, the amount of time saved beats the amount of money you try to save, while trying to stay at an outside location. Yosemite has a variety of accomodations from camping, glamping, lodges to luxury stays. In the past we had done the Housekeeping Camp, which was great for the time. The concrete and canvas structures were already in place and we did not have to set up our tent.

For more information and reservations ➡ Housekeeping Camp in Yosemite National Park CA | TravelYosemite.com

Now-a-days, I would prefer one of the lodges or the luxury hotel inside the park. I said to myself that the next time I visit, I will be staying in luxury along Yosemite’s valley floor at The Awahnee. However you stay inside the park, it will be a magnificent visit and adventure- just enjoy!

For Yosemite National Park accommodation information- Lodging – Yosemite National Park (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)


— Mariposa Grove —

Located near the South Entrance of Yosemite is Mariposa Grove. This is the largest grove of ancient sequoias that are in the park and is home to over 500 mature giants. During much of the year a free shuttle is required for use between the Mariposa Grove Welcome Plaza and the Mariposa Grove. Please check on current availability of the park’s shuttle system.

If you are driving in from the Yosemite Valley, the drive takes approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes.

The Mariposa Grove Welcoming Center, as well as the Wawona Visitor Center are worth spending time to visit. At Wawona’s center the Pioneer Yosemite History Center has horse-drawn wagons and historic buildings of Yosemite’s past. The history center also explains how Yosemite was the inspiration for national parks across America and throughout the world.

You can also walk through the Wawona Covered Bridge, which is one of only a dozen covered bridges in California. It dates back to 1857 but the bridge was not covered until 1979. The bridge was constructed by a trio of brothers, who built the Wawona Hotel and were from Vermont, where covered bridges are very common.


— Things to Do —

There are many significant places and different ways to view Yosemite. How you visit the park depends on your fitness level, interest and time. You could possibly do Yosemite in a day, if you drove from the one end to the other. If you are not mobile and prefer just a drive through, this would be one spectacular ride.

If you plan on staying longer, there many activities to do including hikes and trails of all levels, shuttle tours (check availability), wildlife and bird watching, biking and horse riding. Some of our favorite things to do were auto touring, hiking and floating down the Merced River.

For more information, https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/things2do.htm

Walking along the rock faces.

Yosemite is one of the most breathtaking and magnificent places on earth, it should not be missed in this lifetime. John Muir described it perfectly, “By far the grandest of all the special temples of nature that I was permitted to see.”


— Photo Journal of Yosemite National Park —

Floating by Half Dome

Floating down the Merced River

Tunnel View- one of the most famous views in Yosemite


Your feet will take you where your heart is …

– Irish Proverb
Yours Truly, just relaxing in Yosemite National Park

🌎 Thank you for visiting my website and NEVER STOP EXPLORING!

📸 All photos are taken by me and are my intellectual property – Trixie Navarre

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