The best way to appreciate Yosemite is by hiking or bike riding. Yosemite Valley is home to the highest waterfall in North America – Yosemite Falls. You can hike up to the top of the falls to get a magnificent view of the Valley and Half Dome.
Yosemite Valley is 7-miles long and 4000 ft. above sea level. There are 77 mammal species and 223 bird species throughout the park. Also mosquitos. It costs $20 per vehicle to drive into Yosemite park. The pass is good for 7 days. Save your receipt, because you need to show it when you leave the park.
Driving into the Valley you ride through a long tunnel and come out to one of the most recognizable vistas that was captured on film from Ansel Adams. This view spot some parking to stop and step out of the car to take in the expansive views of Yosemite Valley, El Capitan, and Half Dome.
If you didn’t bring your bike, you can rent bicycles at Curry Village or The Yosemite Lodge. There are 13 miles of paved surface to ride without navigating around too many automobiles or buses. Get out of your car and explore towering granite, lush forest, raging waterfalls and Emerald green meadows.
There are many houses, hotels and cabins outside of Yosemite Valley, however you need to get into your car to visit the Valley. Book a reservation at one of the following accommodations through http://www.yosemitepark.com or 801-559-5000.
Economical – There are campgrounds or stay at Housekeeping or Curry Village in a canvas tent cabin. Curry Village also has nice wood cabins with bathrooms, but you will pay more. They have a swimming pool at Curry Village, all-you-can-eat buffet dining and a pizza parlor. It’s the closest venue to the Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls trails.
Moderate – Yosemite Lodge at the Falls offers many rooms with balconies and patios. It’s a good location right below Yosemite Falls. They offer a cafeteria style dining hall and a fine dining Mountain Room restaurant. They have a swimming pool and nightly ranger talks outside in the mini amphitheater.
Expensive – Ahwahnee Hotel offers 123 guest rooms and cottages built in 1927, paying homage to the California Native Americans in decor. What looks like wood siding with stone accents is actually concrete poured into rough-sewn wood. In the 20s, hotels in Yosemite burned down to the ground, so the architect and builder wanted to make this masterpiece fireproof. A small pool set among the trees was built in the 60s. The staff keep it heated to compensate for not having a hot whirlpool. It’s so warm you can walk or drive right in.
In the main lounge during the late afternoon is a high tea with black or herbal tea in China cups with saucers and gourmet cookies for guests staying at the hotel. The dining room has a 34-foot high ceiling with massive windows and stone columns. The food is good, but not spectacular. During Christmas they put on an annual Bracebridge Dinner. It’s a three house seven-course dinner filled with drama and symbolism with over 100 singers and dining room employees for 350 guests.
Easy – There are three easy hikes that take about 20 minutes to one hour. These are a good start – Bridalveil Falls, Lower Yosemite Falls and Mirror Lake. Moderate – Hikes include the Valley floor loop, or up to the Vernal Falls Footbridge. Strenuous – Hikes include Upper Yosemite Fall Trail to Columbia Rock or to the top of Vernal Falls or the top of Nevada Falls.
For those looking for a Very Strenuous hike, the four-mile trail from Yosemite Valley to Glacier Point is actually 4.8 miles one way with loose sandy soil and narrow switchbacks.
10 Things You Must See and Do in Yosemite
1. Take a hike. A short one is Bridalveil Falls. A longer one is to the top of Yosemite Falls
2. Rent a bike at Curry Village or Yosemite Lodge.
3. Explore the Yosemite Museum.
5. Have a meal at the spectacular Ahwahnee Hotel dining room.
6. Listen to a Ranger Talk at the Yosemite Lodge at nightfall.
7. In the winter, ice skate at Curry Village and ski at Badger Pass.
8. Drive up to Glacier Point to take in the awe-inspiring views.
9. Raft down the stream near Sentinel Beach. Rafts are available to rent during the summer at Curry Village.
10. Ride a horse on a guided tour from the Yosemite Stables.