Friday, November 27, 2015

Our Road Trip to Yosemite National Park [10/15]

We had a great time in San Francisco, but the wanderlust (and road trip plan) kept calling out to us, and so we had to continue. What better place to venture out next then the luring Yosemite National Park, located in the Sierra mountain range. Taking the Route 120 East kept us on our way to Mammoth Lakes, the ultimate destination on this day. Of course this was the road that would also take us to Las Vegas, but more on that later.




Visiting Yosemite National Park

In order to get to the park from San Francisco, you really just  have to follow the road sights which will lead you the right way, but having a GPS (like we did) is not bad, when it comes to exiting the city. There is some gorgeous nature in these mountains, and we did have the luck of traveling in autumn. Visitors usually flock here in the summer, and I guess it's best visited then. The autumn season is more relaxed and you get to enjoy the park more. At the park entrance you have to pay a fee (30$) to enter and it's valid for 7 days (keep the confirmation on your dashboard). Most visitors also go to the Yosemite Valley, and we were no exception, but we also got to see more once we departed the Valley.




Inside the Yosemite Valley

Once you start driving down into the valley, you will immediately notice the famous rock formations and impressive woods surrounding you. There are a couple of spots worth a visit here: Happy Isles (which is a great camping ground), Yosemite Falls (right next to the Visitors Center), Mirror Lake (a point in the valley where you can really see the surrounding mountains well). When you enter the Park you will be given a map, which you can use to get around.





Getting around the Yosemite Valley

You have two options to get around. One is to park your car at the designated parking place near the Yosemite Visitors Center and hop on one of the many free shuttle busses that take you around the park (not the best option if you are here for only one afternoon, like we were), or you can take your car and drive around. We opted for the second thing, and started exploring by car. Beware that you can't drive everywhere with a car, so it's a bit limiting, but you can still see a lot. You can find a park map on the official website by clicking here.


Food and dining in the Yosemite Valley

This is where it gets tricky. Yes food can be found in the valley, but it's not the best. We ate some soup in the Curry Village, and even though it was delicious, the other menu choices where fast food items (pizza, hot dog) and way overpriced. There are two stores, one at the Curry Village (you can find parking here as well) and at the Visitor's Center (parking here is limited to 30 minutes, although I'm not sure how anyone checks this, since you just park your car, there i no ramp). The best option is to get food and drinks before you arrive. This will save you some time on finding lunch in the Yosemite Valley.




Into the Sierra Mountain Range

If your ultimate goal of driving through the Yosemite National Park is to get to the east side of the Sierra Mountain Range (for all eastbound drives to Las Vegas, Mammoth Lakes, Lone Pine, etc), then you have to drive down Route 120, also known as Tioga Pass Road. This will also get you to the Tioga Pass. This is the highest point in these mountains and gets snow as early as October (luckily this year was warm and we didn't have any on the road), and opens up in April. Check out the weather conditions before you go, since the road will be closed, and you won't be able to pass at all. Here is the official site with the status report.






As I have said, nature here is breathtakingly beautiful. You can find so many stops and resting places here in the mountains and just get swept away by the scenery. Like the Tenaya Lake in the next images. The surface of Tenaya Lake has an elevation of 8,150 feet (2,484 m) and the basin was formed by glacial action, which left a backdrop of light granite rocks, whose beauty was known to the Native Americans. It's easily accessible by the aforementioned Route 120 and is a popular lake for water activities. Beware, it's very cold here, and watch out for bears and other animals as well. Don't drift away.










Eastbound...

Ultimately the descent to the east side of the Sierra Mountains was coming up and the road began to wind down. I stopped one final time to get some images of the sweeping vistas, before returning back to the car, since it was freezing cold. We had a wonderful day in the mountains, driving time from San Francisco to Mammoth Lakes was almost 7 hours though, so keep that in mind as well. You don't want to be stuck in the mountains in the night...





We arrived at 8pm in Mammoth Lakes, grabbed dinner in the wonderful Mexican restaurant called "Roberto's Mexican Cafe" (we had the burritos). We slept in the Austria Hof Lodge, and then continued to Las Vegas the next day. I'll save the story from Sin City for next time.

Only a few places left on our road trip, but I think I saved the best ones for the end! :)

End of Part Ten 
To be continued...

39 comments:

  1. Einfach nur wundervoll und ich fühle mich schon fast als ob ich mitgefahren wäre. Tolle Fotos und wieder tolle Tipps. Danke dir dafür.

    Liebe Grüsse

    N☼va

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  2. You were in my former neck of the woods ;) I never made it to Yosemite (every time I was free, the roads were snowed in). My best friend and her husband live in Bishop, so I'm hoping that our next visit to them (either this summer or next), we'll make it up to Yosemite.

    As always - gorgeous photos! Thank you for sharing with us at Photo Friday!

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  3. Wonderful photos! It's very beautiful there.

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  4. Beautiful captures, Mersad. We love Yosemite. Last time there we hit a snowstorm (in mid-October). Treacherous but gorgeous.
    Enjoying your trip immensely.

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  5. your photographs are breath takingly beautiul. Fantastic views, Love the shot of the hollowed out logon the waters edge, the felled trees in the foreground and the double yellow lines on the road shots. Thanks for visiting my post today. Can you link me in on Monday please if you see i have not linked in early. i am on holidays at present and have an early flight to catcch on Monday morning

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  6. Your photos are always top-notch, Mersad. I hope you'll come link up at http://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2015/11/chicago.html

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  7. I've not yet visited Yosemite, but it's high on my bucket list. I've heard it's a drop dead gorgeous place, and your photos confirm this is true!

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  8. this is amazing to me, I would love to visit the park. thanks for my hike in those beautiful trees and mountains.

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  9. Truly a walk down 'memory lane.' As a child my family spent every summer vacation in Yosemite. I wish you could have seen the enchantment of the 'firefall' streaming off of Glacier Point every evening. We all would watch in utter fascination while a local performer would sing Indian Love Call. We'd watch the bears at dusk, attend the parties, dances and shows in the evening at Camp Curry, float down the river on inner tubes. So many wonderful memories!

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    1. I can see families spending their summer vacations here. The numerous campsites in the Yosemite Valley are amazing and varied. We actually read up on the correct behaviour if we encountered a bear (luckily we didn't)

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  10. This is a GREAT series! Lots of good information and photos. That's a pretty amazing road trip, something even a lot of people here in the states would never do. Congrats to you and your fellow travelers for getting out and seeing the world!

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    1. Thanks Ron. This trip was a dream of ours for a long time. We were very happy to get to make it this year.

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  11. WOW!! Your images are absolutely stunning, Mersad! You have recounted your trip with great information and detail. This makes me want to book a flight to the US to complete one of my "bucket list" trips which is to Yosemite, among other National Parks. What a fabulous trip! I'm looking forward to catching up on more from this trip!

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    1. I hope you'll enjoy the rest of the series. Las Vegas is up next!

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  12. Superb captures as always, Mersad, and another one of my favorite places!! I hope all of you have a wonderful weekend!! Enjoy!

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  13. You probably saw Mono Lake on the way down to 395--- that's where Clint Eastwood filmed "High Plains Drifter". Lovely pictures, Mersad. Good job.

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    1. Yes we saw Mono Lake on the way down Route 395 towards Mammoth Lakes. The sun had already set by then so we didn't make a stop.

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  14. This is such fun to come along on your road trip. The US has such a variety of landscapes--and some of them are breathtaking. Looking forward to Sin City! LOL! ;)

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  15. What a fabulous photo journal of your trip! Thank you for sharing.

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  16. This is a great park and you captured the views so well.

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  17. Your photos are absolutely gorgeous, Mersad! Thank you so much for sharing your photographic talent! I think you are a great photographer...and a great teacher, too, when you post the tutorials! I hope you have a great weekend. :)

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  18. Yosemite is one of my favorite places in the US. It's so beautiful!!! Enjoy the rest of your road trip!

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  19. I have been to quite a few national parks in the U.S. but, unfortunately, Yosemite is not one of them. I can see I have missed a beautiful place!

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  20. some great photos--what a fantastic trip you've taken, you are really seeing the best of what the USA has to offer.

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  21. I'm so glad you were able to drive the Tioga Pass Road. Doug and I were there the first week of October in 2011, and that road was closed due to snow. So our visit was limited to the valley. It's an amazing place, though, as you show so well with your photos. Did you get to see what they call "Tunnel View," a panorama which opens up to you as you exit a tunnel. I believe it's at the south entrance to the park.

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    1. Thanks Linda. I knew about Tunnel view and it was on my list for the day, but we were pressed for time, since we wanted to cross the mountains before the dark so we didn't get to drive up there.

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  22. You are on a marvelous trip. I have lots of memories of Yosemite. When I was little they has something called the Firefall. A huge bonfire would be lit on the ridge over the Valley. Then the coals would be pushed over, creating a "waterfall" of glowing embers. I remember camping under the trees in the Valley before there were designated sites. You just found a spot in the campground that you liked and set up your tent near a table. I remember swimming in the cold water of the Kern River with my parents watching. I remember standing in the Valley meadow and watching President Kennedy going by sitting on the back of an open convertible. Lastly, I remember staying in the historic Ahwahnee Hotel as a winter treat after my divorce. - Margy

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  23. Wonderful post! I've seen so many photos of Yosemite, it's almost familiar to me, but your post reminds me that I want to go there! Appreciate the advice too.

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  24. Great photos! Yosemite is a must on any road trip around California. I also visited the park for the first time this year. From your photos, I assume you guys didn't visit the valley. Is that right?

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    1. We did visit the Valley. You can see the Visitors Center in one of the photos.

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  25. Hello, great series of photos! Yosemite is one of my favorite national parks. Enjoy your new week!

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  26. Awesome photos! We took the very same route - San Francisco to Vegas a few summers ago. Unfortunately for us we were driving on a busy summer weekend and the crowds were so abundant that we didn't really get to enjoy the scenery. I think we'll try again in the off season - maybe October Tioga Pass closes.

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  27. Cool. Wieder ein Ort, wo ich noch hin muß.
    Ich mag auch gerne deine Bilder von deinen Leuten, die schauen irgendwie immer total so aus, als sie für irgendeinen Modekatalog fotografiert gewesen wären. LG

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  28. We stayed in this lodge when we did our Highway 395 roadtrip (reverse of what you are doing) and I love this lodge.

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  29. Yosemite is so beautiful. I've never visited there. Loved your beautiful images though.

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  30. Gorgeous photos! What a wonderful travel post...so awesome for those wishing to visit there! I've never been, and would use your travelogue for a trip!

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  31. You lived my dream and where I want to visit.. Thank goodness we put aside some of the National Parks... just beautiful..Michelle

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