By far the most beautiful place that we have experienced in America. Yosemite National park is located in northern California about 4 hours east of San Francisco. The park is over 3,000 square kilometres with the most popular destination being Yosemite Valley. Yosemite Valley is a postcard destination, offering spectacular views of the famous El Capitan and Half Dome mountains. If you are familiar with the British Center Parks, it has this kind of holiday camp feeling but that is where the comparison ends, it is truly an awe inspiring destination.
With so much to do in Yosemite we could have a very long list but we have banged our heads together and decided on a top three not to miss attractions.
Mist Valley Trail
This is something we still talk about today, and we look over the photographs more than any others. The mist valley trail is just a magical experience and is totally unmissable. The hike takes you through a canyon with a waterfall at the far end that is fills the air with mist. Pick a sunny morning to take on the adventure and you will be rewarded with endless rainbows as you make the accent up to the top of the falls.
Rafting down the Yosemite Valley river
For $32 per person you can hire a raft and drift your way down the river than runs through the valley. You can take as long as you want, even beaching the boat and basking in the sunshine. The brave among you should take a swim if you dare, it’s seriously cold water. Just remember the harder you paddle the sooner it will be over so take it slow.
This is not for everyone but just remember you are in the rock climbing capital of the world. Even if you have never rock climbed in your life, book yourself in to one of the taster sessions, there is no better place in the world to rock climb so just do it.
I hope you was not planning on staying longer than a week, because that’s not allowed! During the summer months you are only allowed to stay in the valley for 7 nights, staying in a hotel outside the valley gets around this, but it’s defiantly not the best option. Unless you are a serious rock climber, 7 days is more then enough time.
You have a few options when staying in Yosemite. There’s the Ahwahnee hotel, this is the only hotel in the valley and comes in at £350 a night, owch. If you want a hotel the next option is to stay outside the valley, you can find these for as little as £50 a night, but you are obviously going to need a car to get back and forth. It does have the benefit of getting around the 7 nights stay limitation.
Camping is by far the most popular accommodation option in the valley. Curry Village offers heated, semi permanent tents, but they are £100 a night! Camping pitches can be picked up for as little as £4 per person and up to £20 per person (2015). Remember to book well in advance, as the campsites are always full. There is a first come first served campsite called Camp4, but you need to be at the entrance hut, in the queue by 7 AM if you want a space, and there are no showers. It’s a bit of a no brainer to camp, but what if you are backpacking and have no gear? This is the situation we were in and ended up in K-Mart buying a tent (£20), two sleeping bags (£16 each) and two sleeping mat, (£16 each). We later sold all the gear for £32 after using it again in Banff, winner.
If you can, bring enough food to last the duration of your stay. Eating out is not an option unless you are on a lavish holiday and don’t mind spending £20 on a small pizza. There is a selection of supermarkets in the valley that are “reasonable” considering the location so you can pick up fresh produce when required. The camp sites offer fire pits with griddles for cooking but I would recommend picking up a portable camping stove before arriving (Walmart £20 with gas).
Yosemite is great when it comes to transportation. There are free shuttle buses that take you everywhere in the valley. If you want to explore outside the valley and don’t have a car, you can book yourself on excursions at the information centres.