My Top Ten National Parks of North America
My Top Ten so far…
6. Yosemite National Park
Date established: October 1, 1890
Annual visitation (2014): 3,882,642
Size: 761,266 acres
Location: Central California
Number of visits: Two
Total days in the park: Seven and a half days
Where I stayed: I have spent a couple nights in Hodgdon Meadow Campground and five nights at Wawona Campground. I liked Wawona quite a bit.
Can’t miss sight: There are so many! I could say Yosemite Valley as a whole. If I have to be more specific, I’d put Half Dome as number one. Yosemite Fall, El Capitan, Bridalveil Fall, Vernal Fall, and Nevada Fall are all amazing, too (and those are all inside the valley).
My favorite view: Another tough choice. I think I’ll go with Glacier Point, though. You get an amazing eye-level view of Half Dome, a bird’s eye view of Yosemite Valley, and a great view of the domes and mountains of the High Sierra area of Yosemite.
Wildlife seen: Black bear, deer, rattlesnake, fox, a marmot.
Favorite hike: I’ll never forget my hike up Half Dome, but that’s not my favorite Yosemite hike. That honor goes to the Mist Trail. That is one awesome hike, passing by two immaculate waterfalls. I highly recommend you try to it in the spring, so the waterfalls are flowing with a fury. I also recommend doing the trail as a loop, hiking up the Mist Trail and taking the John Muir Trail back to the trailhead.
Bonus Point: Yosemite Valley is home to my favorite General Store in the parks system. I felt it does a good job of supplying everything you might need, but doesn’t seem like as much of a sprawling big box retailer as the General Store in the Grand Canyon.
If I Return
Yosemite is a great place to camp, but I’d also like to splurge and stay at the Majestic Yosemite Hotel (formerly the Ahwahnee) one day. I’d also like to spend some more time in the High Sierra around Tolumne Meadows. I definitely need more time in the Mariposa Grove, since I didn’t get any good photos there because of all the rain when I was first there. In fact, I am going to have to have a long stay, because I’m obviously going to need to spend a lot of time in Yosemite Valley, too.
Why You Should Visit
Yosemite National Park should be near the top of everyone’s National Park Bucket List. There is plenty of breathtaking scenery and some phenomenal hikes. It’s about four hours from San Francisco, so it’s more accessible than a lot of parks, too.
The Grand Canyon and Zion may be crowded, but Yosemite Valley takes the term “overcrowded” to another level. Thankfully there are other areas to explore in the park, then you can try to visit the valley either early or late in the day, so it’s not as bad as it could be.
P.S. Don’t forget to check out My Book