There’s no better time to take a road trip than right now. It will be a well-deserved break from your daily routine.
One of our country’s greatest national parks lies just six hours northeast of Los Angeles, and if you haven’t visited it yet, it’s time you do.
Yosemite National Park was founded in 1890 and encompasses an area of approximately 1,200 square miles in the heart of California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains.
I recently made the trip to Yosemite for the first time with a few friends. Here’s a list of tips and advice to make your trip a success.
WHERE TO STAY
Within Yosemite Valley, there are a number of places to spend the night. Upscale lodging is available at The Ahwahnee Hotel, and if you’re looking to barbecue for a big group, the facilities at the Housekeeping Camp might be your best option.
If you want to rough it and pitch your own tent, Lower, Upper and North Pines offer places to crash. (This is the most affordable option.)
My personal recommendation, however, would be to stay in Curry Village. Offering “tent cabins” to its guests, this was the perfect choice for someone who wants the camping experience but might not want to bring their own equipment.
The tent cabins provide twin and double beds, and public showers and restrooms are available to all guests within the camp.
Another perk is a bar with local beers on tap, pizza parlor, tortilla stand, souvenir shop and game room. The camp offers the perfect nighttime setting to socialize and have some fun after a long day of hiking.
WHERE TO HIKE
Hiking trails are abundant throughout Yosemite Park. Be careful that you know what you’re getting into though before you set out on an adventure.
The hiking trails are not all easy! Below is a description of some of the most popular trails in the park:
Mirror Lake: Start at Shuttle Stop 17. Distance: 2 miles. Hiking Time: 1 hour. Difficulty: Easy.
Upper Yosemite Fall Trail: Start at Shuttle Stop 7. Distance: 2 miles. Hiking Time: 2-3 hours. Difficulty: Strenuous.
Top of Vernal Fall: Start at Shuttle Stop 16. Distance: 3 miles. Hiking Time: 2-4 hours. Difficulty: Strenuous.
Top of Nevada Fall: Start at Shuttle Stop 16. Distance: 7 miles. Hiking Time: 5-6 hours. Difficulty: Strenuous.
Top of Half Dome: Start at Shuttle Stop 16. Distance: 17 miles. Hiking Time: 10-12 hours. Difficulty: Extremely strenuous.
I’d like to take a brief moment to discuss what they mean here by strenuous. They mean that it’s no joke.
I’d recommend hitting the gym at least three days a week for the month prior to hiking anything labeled strenuous. Think I’m kidding, right? Well, you’ve been warned.
When you enter the trails, signs are posted to remind you everywhere that people have died on these courses, and they also report how many people have been saved so far this year by rescue teams. The number stood at 208 when I ventured out for the day.
This is some serious hiking; it’s no Runyon Canyon Park. (Side note: I made it to the top of Nevada Fall and will brag about this until the day I die).
There are plenty of other outdoor activities if hiking isn’t your thing. Tram tours are available on an hourly basis, bike rentals are located at both Yosemite Lodge and Curry Village, and horseback riding tours on the trails are around for animal lovers.
The Curry Village Recreation Center offers rafting and a mountaineering school for people interested to learn about the sport. The Ansel Adams Gallery is also available to park guests in Yosemite Village.
Before you leave the park, make sure to stop and see the Grizzly Giant, a Sequoia tree which stands among many others as the largest tree in Mariposa Grove. At 97 feet tall, it’s estimated to be 2,700 years old.
Oh, and I almost forgot one very important piece of advice: Don’t forget to look up!
The sun setting on El Capitan, Half Dome, and the vivid stars that shine at night will take your breath away.
It’s sometimes hard to believe that Yosemite National Park, with all that it has to offer resides in the same state as our crazy and energetic city of Los Angeles.
California – you gotta love it.
For more information, visit www.yosemitepark.com.