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Yosemite National Park
You know you’re somewhere special when even your tour guide, who spends her life on these trails, stops to take photographs.
This is the magic of Yosemite National Park – every view is different and every view is stunning.
Every step you take through the park reveals another vantage point of the natural beauty that surrounds you.
The park is massive – over 300,000 hectares (for anyone who actually knows what a hectare is). Or, to put it into perspective for you Australians, it’s the size of the ACT – the whole ACT, not just the bit with the roundabouts and the well-polished government cars.
So, yeah, big… and a lot more interesting.
Large mountains dominate the skyline of the park. From the ground, they feel like huge walls protecting you in the lush green valleys. From higher points, they seem to roll endlessly towards the horizon.
The lower mountains are covered in waterfalls, like veins distributing life to the park. The higher mountains are often snow-covered (still in July’s summer heat!) and inaccessible for most of the year.
What can you do at Yosemite?
I spent a few days camping at Yosemite and it’s a place that brings you closer to nature but also reminds you how insignificant you feel in its presence. That’s not just because of its sheer size and beauty, but because it would be the victor in any contest with a human.
This is no Bear vs Wild. This is Us vs Bears and wild. Still, it’s one of the most popular attractions in the US and had more than 3.5 million visitors last year.
I won’t bore you with the geological history (ok, that’s mainly because I don’t understand it). But y’know, just imagine a glacier and some granite and then fill in the gaps (the gaps that were created by the glacier, that is).
Oh, and you need to know about something called ‘uplift’ as well.
It’s much more fun not to think about the science of it all, anyway. The true enjoyment comes from experiencing the landscapes as they are now and we I that through a bunch of hikes through the wilderness.
As you make your way up the mountainsides, the trees eventually give way to reveal the valleys, the peaks and the waterfalls.
The most scenic walk we did was up ‘mist trail’, so-called because much of it is stone steps cut into a mountain next to a waterfall.
In reality it should be called ‘absolutely drenched trail’ because the splash from the waterfall leaves you soaking by the time you get to the top.
Yosemite offers endless opportunities for adventures to explore the wilderness, far from any type of civilisation.
Some climbs take two days. Some longer hikes can take weeks. But the area is also extremely accessible for those who like to take things easier.
Shuttle buses run through the main valley from the parking and camping ground to the walking tracks; rangers give lectures and tours; and there are plenty of toilets and water in the popular spots.
As I mentioned earlier, the rivers and waterfalls through the park are like veins, bringing life to the park from an unseen beating heart.
But, more than that, spending some time in Yosemite also makes you feel more alive than ever.
It’s a natural wonder unparalleled by many other places on this earth.