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As I mentioned in my previous post about Half Dome Village, Yosemite National park is simply breath taking. The scenery is just surreal, with lush green forests set against a backdrop of sheer granite cliffs, it is certainly not like anything I have seen in Australia before. Whilst we only had two days in Yosemite, you could easily spend many more days exploring the numerous walking tracks, waterfalls and sights. Apparently, we were very lucky and picked a good year to visit the park due to a large amount of snow and rain during winter.
The park is 1,200 square miles of national park best known for its waterfalls located in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains.
The sheer granite cliff that sprawl up from the vast green meadows are amazing, photos really do not do the scenery any justice. Standing in one of the meadows in the valley looking out can only be described as surreal, it truly looks as if the background had been sketched into the image, much like a movie back lot at Universal Studios.
As we only have a very short time in the park (two nights), we were limited in what we could do as many of the walks are a full day hike.
When we arrived at the park, we wandered into the Visitor Centre and saw that the Rangers offered several free tours and signed up for a night walk with a talk about the stars an night sky. This actually involved driving back out of the valley for about 45mins to get to gated driveway that we were then escorted up by the ranger to a helicopter base at the top of one of the ridges. We got up there at sunset and the view was awesome.
It was soon dark and the ranger guided the group through the various constellations in the sky. It was incredible being able to see the stars without the light pollution of the city.
For our first day in Yosemite, we explored the valley and various meadows, I think we killed several hours just walking around and exploring the valley.
After exploring the valley we drove over to Sentinal Dome, which is a short 2.2mile return hike to the top. Whilst not as iconic as Half Dome it is a much easier (and shorter hike) and provides a 360-degree panoramic view of the park. If you are not into hiking or don’t have much time, I would strongly recommend this walk. It was pretty easier and didn’t take that much time.
On the drive back from Sentinel Dome you go past Tunnel View, we stopped off to get what is probably one of the most iconic Yosemite National Park photos there is.
For our last day in Yosemite, we decided to spend the bulk of the day exploring the tops section of the park along Tioga Pass. One thing that is great about the National Park is that the road constantly has areas to safely pull over if you see something you want to look at. One area along Tioga Pass that I would highly recommend you stop at would be Tioga Lake. Whilst there are a few actual parking lots with picnic areas, there are also several spots along the road you can pull over and walk down to the lake edge. If we had more time, we could've easily wiled the day away lying in the sun and dipping in the water. There is a 'beach' area with sand, picnic tables and a restroom but for those who don't like sand, if you pull over on the side of the road there are often large sun baked flat boulders at the edge of the lake to sit and lie on.
After Tioga pass, we exited the park and stopped quickly at Mono Lake in Lee Vinning to check out the Tufa Towers.
After Mono Lake, we continued to Lee Vining to spend the night before continuing through Death Valley to Vegas.