I was scrolling through Instagram one day and suddenly stumbled upon the most incredible picture. It was of a beautiful meadow, with towering mountains, ancient oak trees and a lake as clear as a diamond. I genuinely thought that someone had painted it, so enchanting was the scene but as it turns out, the picture was a photo; and that photo was of Yosemite National Park in California.
Set in the Northern part of California and at 747,956 acres large, Yosemite National Park is more than twice the size of London and has a rich habitat of meadow valleys, woodland and mountains. It’s also one of the most stunning places i’ve ever visited, yet isn’t particularly high on the radar for most British travellers. Here’s my guide to Yosemite National Park and why you should add it to your travel wish lists:
What is there to do?
When you first arrive, you’ll spend a lot of time looking up and gaping in awe at the magnificence of nature. When you’re ready to resume activity again, there is so much to do here with hundreds of trails to explore and beautiful spots to relax in.
One of the premier activities here is hiking and there are hundreds of trails ranging in difficulty for you to enjoy. We spent a day doing the Half Dome Hike – which is definitely not for the faint hearted, but there are many shorter trails throughout the park that are easily accessible. Yosemite’s free shuttle bus service is a really great way of getting to the start of your chosen trail.
You can also do horseback riding in the forests here, which sounds incredibly romantic. We unfortunately didn’t have time to do this, but there are four Equestrian centres that offer lessons and guided rides through the park.
There’s also golf, rafting, swimming, photography and star gazing to do here as well as winter sports if you come during December- March. You feel fully engrossed in nature here and amazingly we saw two deer just chilling out in the middle of our camp site one morning:
There are also giant Sequoia trees here that are a must-see in Mariposa grove. Words can’t describe how humongous these trees are, but luckily pictures can:
When is the best time to go?
Depending on what activities you’re into (e.g. summer or winter) will determine the best time of year to visit. The summer months June-August are beautiful here, but can be quite busy. April – May and September – October are beautiful, as the weather is still good but the crowds aren’t overwhelming. We visited in mid-September and had a really great experience – there were blue skies every day and it wasn’t unbearably hot to hike in.
What should I bring?
As Yosemite’s elevation range is between 648 – 3997m, there’s a really big range in temperature too, especially at night so bring lots of layers. We made the error of thinking ‘it’s California and it’s September so it will definitely be hot!’ and didn’t even bring a jacket. Big mistake, Huge.
Make sure to bring:
(Remember: don’t bring snacks and leave them in your car as bears have been known to break into vehicles to get to food!)
Where should I stay?
Remember in Parent Trap, where junior Lindsay Lohan goes to camp in the beginning and they stay in these canvas style tent/cottages? As a kid, I always wanted to go to an all American camp and on our visit to Yosemite, my dream was realised! We stayed in Camp Curry, which is one of the cheaper accommodation options and kind of like Camping Lite; you’re sort of outside, but you still have a bed and proper toilets.
When you stay at Camp Curry, you have to keep all your food and even toiletries in bear proof lockers outside your hut! Even toothpaste counts as something potentially tasty to the bears… but don’t worry, bear sightings are rare and we didn’t encounter one during our stay.
Camp Curry has it all. There is a Camp shop, huge dining area with two restaurants and a lodge style Wifi zone; which is essential as there is no mobile reception up in these hills!
Yosemite National Park blew me away. As you can see from my photos, it’s an incredible place and definitely one to add to your bucket list. If you have any questions, just leave me a comment below!
Check out our California Road trip here: