Creme de la creme. Park of all parks. Single-handedly the most visited National Park in the world. You would be crazy to think you can get a campsite without a reservation! Basically that is how we were welcomed into Yosemite.
We are happy that 5 times as many people pass through the gates of one of the oldest protected natural areas in US as there are inhabitants in Estonia and that so many of them choose to camp in there. To be fully honest, though, for most people it means living in permanent tents or cabins, eating in restaurants and driving around the 7-mile stretch of Yosemite valley only to stop at viewpoints for a selfie or two. Did you know that it’s easier to spot a deer in the valley than to find a parking space? Probably that’s why it’s OK, when most of the trails and half of the roads beside the valley are closed in the spring.
We don’t want to be negative about the park, the valley is really beautiful, the cliff walls and waterfalls are impressive and inspiring, the meadows large and relaxing and most of the park actually is supposed to be untouched, being home for more than 160 different species. Maybe we are just whining because we couldn’t hike the Half Dome or because it started raining or because it was hard to find a campsite or because we had to take a long detour to get to the other side of Sierras.
We were reminded on the detour why we are taking one – the weather in the mountains is more extreme than in the valleys. The rain turned into snow at 2500 m and as the road turned white so did the knuckles of the drivers. Our Ford took us over the mountains safely and as a bonus for driving so far north to get over to the other side of the mountain range, we got to see Lake Tahoe and a little bit of Nevada!
If you were to ask us now if you should cross Yosemite off your bucket list we would say No! Keep it on there, but plan ahead. Make sure it’s not the time of too many signs saying “closed for the season”, make reservations and learn to rock-climb – it will be much more fun! We couldn’t hike in Yosemite, but that’s how this road trip works – we take the opportunities that come to us.