Ever wanted to go to Yosemite? Now's your chance. With vivid photos, I walk you through my memorable journey through the park.
When I found out that the National Park Service was turning 100, I couldn’t resist an opportunity to visit one of the country’s most famous national parks, Yosemite. (Though, I should note, this northern California park is actually older than the National Park Service: It turned 126 in September 2016.)
Yosemite is known for its beautiful valley and monstrous Half Dome, but in between the two, you’ll also find waterfalls and meadows. The park’s diverse landscape makes it the perfect place for a hike, or even a day lazing by the river.
I spent two days exploring the majestic and historic landmark in the Sierra Nevada, trying to see the best it has to offer—which, with 1,200 square miles (1,931 kilometers) to cover, is a massive undertaking. For that reason, I needed a sturdy-yet-comfortable pack that I could wear throughout the two days. Mind you, I’m not one to sacrifice style for function, which is why Eagle Creek's Converge Backpack was the perfect Yosemite companion. I packed it up, grabbed my wallet, and set out for my adventure. Take a look, below, at my Yosemite photo diary for a glimpse of this American masterpiece.
Photo 1: I entered the park on the north side to avoid the crowds that would be in the valley. One of my first stops in Yosemite was the Tioga Pass. I wandered through some trees, not expecting to find much—until the greenery opened up to this incredible view. I stood on this rock for a while and took in the various famous peaks in front of me before parking myself right in the middle for a picnic, which was packed and kept cool in the Converge. Bonus: The Army-green bag matched my camouflage shorts perfectly.
Photo 2: The drive from the north side down to the valley was a long one—about an hour (this park is seriously big), but there were places worth stopping along the way. One spot I could not resist was this meadow filled with wildflowers. The rocks loomed over it like a skyscraper does a street in Manhattan (which is what I’m used to). I walked through the tall grass and bent down to capture this shot: a gentle flower against a harsh rock called El Capitan, which is Yosemite Valley’s biggest cliff and the largest granite monolith in the world. The park is filled with wildflowers, including monkey-flower, beardtongue, parasitic plants, shooting stars, asters, buttercups, and lupines.
Photo 3: Once I finally reached Yosemite Valley, I was faced with Half Dome, the most recognizable aspect of Yosemite. When you’re sitting in the valley grass, the famous rock formation reaches 5,000 feet (1,524 meters) tall. Many people hike to the top (which requires a permit, because of a portion that can be reached only by using cables), but me? I decided to enjoy the view from the ground. I wasn’t as hot as some of my travel companions who were lugging around bulky bags—probably because the Converge features an Air Mesh back panel—but we all decided to take a dip in one of the many rivers that run through the park. Luckily, the Converge expands, so I was able to fit a towel and bathing suit in comfortably—and then put them away in my Wet Dry Fitness Locker when I was done.
Photo 4: On day two, it was time to get up close and personal with Yosemite’s famous face: Half Dome. Okay, not that close—I still didn’t climb it. But, Glacier Point offers incredible views of the dome, sans strenuous hike. You can opt for the four-mile (six-kilometer) hike from the valley, or take the free in-park shuttle to the top. From certain parts of Glacier Point, you can see three-fourths of the park, including Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, Clouds Rest, and three waterfalls.
Have you been to Yosemite? What were some of your favorite parts? Share your two cents in the comments!
Related Links (from Eagle Creek blog):
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Tips for Camping in International Deserts