Happy 125th Birthday Yosemite, you great big beautiful national park!
On October 1, 1890 President Benjamin Harrison signed the legislation that created the third National Park in the United States, Yosemite National Park. This brought together new areas of land with the land that was already covered in 1864’s Yosemite Grant Act and protected it further.
I first wrote about Yosemite way back in May, when I detailed the spring hike that Chris and I had done during a rather short visit to the area. The first time I actually visited was in 2005 on a vacation with my family. After spending some time in San Francisco, we rented a car and drove south to the Tenaya Lodge in Yosemite for some outdoor fun.
We found a lot of fun. We also found a lot of people, unsurprising since it was the busy summer tourism season. But beyond any of that, we found nature. Beautiful, awe-inspiring, magnificent nature. My sisters hike by persuasion only (and on occasion bribery) and I think even they were in awe of the beautiful park. While serious hiking is very easy to find, you don’t necessarily have to be a professional trekker to enjoy the natural sights here. In honor of Throwback Thursday, check out a few snapshots of my family appreciating some of the most famous sights in the park during our visit that was now ten whole years ago.
The trail to the top of Vernal Fall is quite a popular one in spring and summer when the water flow is at its heaviest. It consists of steep granite rock croppings that make a semblance of a staircase right alongside the water (hence its name, the Mist Trail!). You can continue past the top of Vernal Fall to Nevada Fall (which my family did not do) or you can diverge onto the longer John Muir Trail. When Chris and I hiked in this area in March, we did not have any choices as the seasonal trail closures left us with only the winter route- a combination of both the Mist and John Muir Trails that completely skipped the staircase area. It led us to a fantastic view of Liberty Cap, which you can check out in that previous post.
I remember the hike out to Taft Point being somewhat easy and not very long. We meandered through a forest on a mostly flat trail, with trees and wildflowers lining the path. Suddenly the woods opened up and everything was vast- the valley, the cliffs, the dropoff, and the sky. There was a metal railing drilled into the rock so that you could get super close to the edge fairly safely, and my dad walked over to a nearby outcrop to get the photo above and show us all just how steep the drop was.
Unfortunately I don’t know exactly where we were when we took this family portrait with such an epic backdrop, but you may recognize the giant rock formation behind us. That’s Half Dome, an iconic symbol of Yosemite National Park. There are tons of different spots in the park where you can see the natural monolith, so catching a glimpse while you are in the area isn’t too tall an order. If you want to climb it you need to be a very experienced hiker in excellent shape with no fear and a special permit (so needless to say I have not climbed it). It rises nearly 5,000 feet above the valley floor and is truly one of nature’s best pieces.
Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias
This area of the park is currently closed and will be for over a year more, so if you are planning a visit to Yosemite soon this will unfortunately be off limits. In 2005 we took a tram tour around the beautiful grove, complete with a headset audio tour. According to the updates page on the National Park Service website, that tour will be done away with. They are also planning to convert most of the roads in the grove to hiking trails. These huge, gorgeous trees will take center stage no matter how they develop the area and I am excited to see how the restoration progresses. Click here for updates on the project: http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/mariposagrove.htm
The National Park Service website is a wealth of information, so definitely use it as a tool for planning your visit. http://www.nps.gov/yose/index.htm