You've seen and heard it all about Yosemite: black and white Ansel Adams photographs, endless granite, the birth of modern rock climbing, views for days, and home to some of the best one-star national park Yelp reviews. So it will come as no surprise that we discovered there's a reason this place is wall-to-wall packed between May and September.
With a little persistence and mostly luck, we were able to reserve a campsite for three nights in Yosemite Valley, ensuring that we'd have as much time as possible to enjoy the park's most iconic attractions. Yosemite Valley lies in the heart of Yosemite National Park and is surrounded by granite walls that rise up defiantly from the valley floor. Any hike out of the valley requires a severe uphill grade, but we were rewarded every time with stunning views.
Though most of the park's waterfalls were either running weakly or completely dried up, we hiked above Lower Yosemite Falls for an unobstructed view of Half Dome. We wandered through Camp 4 to marvel at climbers working on epic boulder problems or organizing trad gear for the next morning's big wall climb. We undertook our biggest hiking day of the trip yet, heading up to Glacier Point on the Panorama Trail passing by Nevada Falls, Vernal Falls, and Illilouette Falls. On our way back down to the valley, we hiked past an aggressively focused pileated woodpecker on the steep Four Mile Trail. All said and done, that day required 14 miles of hiking and nearly 7,000ft of elevation gain/loss.
We barely scratched Yosemite's surface but with any luck we'll be back soon. And neither of us can think of a better place to finish out our two months on the road!