I thought I didn’t have a favorite place on my trip. Well, not a clear winner as there have been many beautiful places I’ve visited that I call favorites. Sitting on a boulder on the edge of Glacier Point in Yosemite changed that. A girl I met here, Lauren, compared Glacier Point to the Grand Canyon and now I see why. It opens up before you like a big mystery revealed. Waterfalls rush from what seems like out of the heavens and cliff faces plunge into pine forests below. Yet, unlike the Grand Canyon, this feels more real. I was once standing below staring up at this point. Now in a short drive, I am at the top gazing down. It’s more tangible to me. I can get lost yet find myself in this place. Whereas in the Grand Canyon, it was so vast I just felt lost in its unfathomable size.
The southern Miwok used to describe this place and its noble group of granite cliffs as if it were a gaping mouth. Standing in the valley, you are surrounded by great silvery forms that do look as if the earth is yawning up to the sky. It is an awesome sight and now I really know how John Muir felt about this place. I often have quoted him and love his views on nature. His words have always resonated with me but now that I’ve been to Yosemite they’ve taken on new meaning. This place has gotten into my soul. It makes any city pale in comparison and now I am wondering why I didn’t include more national parks on this trip of mine. For in this place is where I feel best. It’s as if the purest part of who I am comes back to me and I touch something greater than myself at times.
“Yosemite Valley, to me, is always a sunrise, a glitter of green and golden wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space.”
– Ansel Adams
You may have seen photos and thought that Yosemite looked nice, but being there as a tiny speck tilting your head to the sky and seeing one of the greatest things mother nature has bestowed upon us is quite different. Even though John Muir may have described it best or Ansel Adams may have captured the mighty El Capitan to inspire generations, you really must experience this place for yourself.
“I have a low opinion of books; they are but piles of stone set up to show coming travelers where other minds have been, or at least signal smokes to call attention… No amount of word-making will ever make a single soul to know these mountains. As well to seek to warm the naked and frostbitten by lectures on caloric and pictures of flame. One day’s exposure to mountains is better than cartloads of books. See how willingly Nature poses herself upon photographers’ plates. No earthy chemicals are so sensitive as those of the human soul. All that is required is exposure, and purity of material.”
– John Muir
Theodore Roosevelt spent three days camping here with John Muir and afterwards said it was the time of his life. They slept under a great sequoia tree and visited a view near Glacier Point. After his visit, he put Yosemite Valley under federal protection. This place moved men enough to want to protect it for everyone forever. Take advantage of this pact they made for future generations like us. When you get to the park, visit Glacier Point, find a boulder to sit on and take it all in. Forget all the photos and quotes. Leave behind your cities and busy lives. Find a piece of you that was forgotten while in Yosemite National Park.
Cost – A 7 day park pass for one automobile costs $30. A yearly is $60. They only give you a receipt when entering, so put it in a safe place.
Lodging – I highly recommend staying in the park. You will have to pay higher prices for the location, but lodging outside the park takes a considerable amount of time out of your day. I stayed in Half Dome Village which is made up of tents you rent. They have beds, wooden floors and doors and some are heated.
Must Sees – Glacier Point for the most amazing vista, Mirror Lake for a nice level trail of serene beauty, and Cooks Meadow to get a great introduction to the valley.
When it Rains – Visit the Ansel Adams Gallery and the Yosemite Museum. You can also watch a moving film on Yosemite in the theater behind the visitor center. Grab a book or your computer and cozy up in the Majestic Yosemite Hotel’s grand sitting room. There is also a lovely gift shop and sweet shop to peruse in the hotel. I even recommend going out in the rain. The clouds can be quite dramatic and add to the beauty of the landscape.
Roads – I visited in the spring which is best for waterfall viewing. However, if you decide to visit at this time, know that certain roads and mountain passes are closed due to snow still covering them. Some parts of the park can be off limits as well. I lucked out and saw Glacier Point on the one day it was open while I was there. Yet, when I wanted to visit Mono Lake I had to take an enormous detour.