Yosemite NP was our first stop after we landed in San Francisco. We booked a rental car right at the airport and after 11-hour flight a brand new Toyota that was waiting for us woke us up a bit so we went ahead to test it on the Californian roads right away. We booked a room in Heritage Inn Sonora which was about as far as we had the energy to drive that day and the next morning we were ready to head to the park.
We were greeted by the park entrance where you either show your Annual Pass or pay for the entry, get a free map and you can ask for any information you need. The Annual Pass is a great option by the way if you’re headed for a few national parks (it’s valid for a whole year so ask your friends, maybe they have a spare one from their trip to the USA).
We were approaching the valley from Sonora and the first turn we took was to Bridalveil Fall, which is a great place to start. When you look at the fall from the bottom of the mountain, it’s quite impressive and it made us excited about everything we’re about to see in the park.
Once we reached the Tunnel Viewpoint it was hard to believe the valley in front of us is not just a beautiful painting. The view is framed by El Presidente and Bridalveil Fall and the valley views go back to Halfdome and many more mountains.
From Tunnel View, we headed to Yosemite Village full of excitement. We parked our car at the Visitor’s Parking and packed our backpack for the whole afternoon because we were planning to go on a hike to the falls. There’s a shuttle bus that leaves the village every half an hour and takes you to the most popular spots in the valley so it took us to the start of the Upper Yosemite Falls trek and we were ready to start. It’s a very steep hike and you can choose to hike the first half from where you can see the waterfall in all its glory. You can stay here, enjoy the view and then turn back and go to the valley, it’s approx. 2.5 km to get to the view.
Once we reached this point we decided to hike to the top where the roaring waterfalls over the edge to the valley. Later we found out it’s the highest waterfall in North America which would explain the elevation over 820 meters on the 6 kilometres of the trail.
It is, of course, important to take enough water with you (we refilled our bottles on the way from the tiny rivers flowing from the mountains – the water was pure and refreshing), snacks etc. but what I think is even more important is to know that there is not a better view of the waterfall than the one you get in the middle of the trek – the trail turns behind a mountain so you can’t see it until you reach the top, meaning if you are not sure you’ll finish the hike, it’s unnecessary to hike just a little bit higher hoping for a better view of the waterfall. I’d rather save time, go back to the bottom and maybe go on a short trail to Lower Yosemite Falls.
For those who make it to the top, there is something special waiting. Yosemite will reward you with breathtaking views of the valley and the mountains around. We would say it’s one of the most beautiful views in the world. but you have to deserve it. Not only by going up but by going down as well, which is almost as hard considering you have to mind each step on the slippery and dusty stones. It’s the hardest hike we’ve ever done but if you decide to do it too, every step up will be worth it!
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