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Yosemite National Park in a whirlwind

Driving to Yosemite National Park can be as easy as confusing for road trip travelers. There are few options, but the road from Mariposa and El Portal offers great views. It was a whirlwind visit, but we made it count.


On-line research on how to visit the Park if you have limited time, it was all a bit unclear, so we decided to head towards the visitors’ center and take it from there. Despite the official note, discouraging visitors from entering the park with private vehicles, parking was surprisingly easy. A very helpful officer took a lot of time in explaining to us how to follow the trails and the distances between each point. So if you don’t have a plan, start from the visitors’ center, and they will help you!

Yosemite National Park_Map

You can walk and hike throughout the trail or hop on & off the shuttle bus that goes along the green line and the red line.

From No.16 along the green line, prepare yourself for a tough hike along the John Muir Trail towards the Vernal Fall. It’s uphill, through the forest, with mixed parts either paved or quite rough. Hiking shoes are highly recommended even though I did see few Miss America trying to reach the end of the trail. Above all, bring some water with you.

At the end of the trail, after a steep stairway and the sweaty last 50 meters, you will be rewarded with the majestic view of Vernal Fall. What a view! The longest drop of the fall alone measures 73 meters.

The Vernal Fall

The truth is that after such a strenuous hike, a lot of Sunday-hikers (including us!) do not continue to Nevada Fall, BUT by all means – please do if you can! And you think you will be alone…oh well think again.

Walking back toward No.17 on the green line, we headed to Mirror Lake but sadly so, it was nothing but a pond (visited in August) with a lovely view of the Half Dome. Sit down, have a sip of water and a sandwich and enjoy the view…of many other tourists having a footbath in the shallow waters of the pond. How inspiring…

Mirror Lake_Yosemite

The driving circuit in Yosemite Valley is one-way only, so your way out takes you on a different path on the north side drive. Nice for traffic control, not so nice if you forgot to see Bridal Veil Fall and the driving route makes you do a huge U-turn.  Road signage inside the park can be improved, me say.

Last but not least, a stop by the Giant Sequoias. Park and follow the downhill trail that will take you right to the core of a Sequoia formation where you can proceed at your pace and take as many crazy pictures as you like.We did that with our secret camera!


Remember, every step you take downhill, you’ll have to repeat uphill – so don’t be lazy and bring water with you.

Yosemite National Park

We visited the area literally at sunset, a great way to avoid the crowds and take in incredible views of these giant trees painted by the last golden sunlight of the day.

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