Yosemite National Park
FACTOID: Yosemite National Park, one of the first wilderness parks in the United States, is best known for its waterfalls. It is nearly 1,200 square miles in size.
The King had been to Yosemite in 1973 when he was working for Booz-Allen and living in Arizona and Nevada. The Queen had never been there.
When we landed in San Francisco we took the BART into downtown to pick up a rental car. The drive to the Yosemite National Park area is about 4 hours.
We tried to make a reservation inside the park but it was all booked up. Even though this was very early in the season we were trying to make a reservation for the weekend. The closest motel was located about 12 miles from the western entrance to the park. Trip Advisor and some other Internet sites did not rate the Buck Meadows American Best Value Inn very highly. In fact, some of the reviews were pretty bad - bad towels, surly staff, no breakfast, bugs, etc. We took a chance when we booked this hotel.
The hotel turned out to be very nice. The towels were fine, it was clean, the staff was friendly and helpful. The only deceptive thing turned out to be the drive to Yosemite. It is true that the distance to the park was about 12 miles or a 15 - 20 minute drive but then you have to drive another 24 miles on a 25 MPH road to get to Yosemite Village where the shuttle bus for the various hikes you can do is found.
Admission to the park is $20 per car but we had a Golden Age Pass and did not have to pay anything - one advantage to being a senior citizen.
Photo: The hotel was located in a very picturesque area amid lots of pine trees.
Photo: This sign was posted outside all the doors at the motel. Have no idea who would want to stay at any motel if they all need to post this warning.
Photo: This area is famous for artichokes and it was artichoke season. This picture was taken at a local supermarket in another town nearby.
Photo: We started taking pictures on the way to Yosemite because the views were pretty nice.
Photo: Even before we got to the park we passed lots of small waterfalls.
Photo: The first falls you see as you drive into the park is Bridalveil Falls. There was lots of snow on the surrounding mountains so it turned out all the falls had lots of water.
Photo: The creek at Bridalveil Falls.
Photo: The first view of Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls as you drive into Yosemite Village.
Photo: The King and Queen wait for a bus at Yosemite Village. The shuttle bus is free and it takes you to all the trailheads for the hikes to the various falls. There is limited parking at most of the trailheads but even this early in the season they were full - cannot imagine what it must look like in the summer.
Photo: This is the Merced River that you cross on the way up to Vernal and Nevada Falls.
Photo: One side of the path was a high mountain and this was one of several rocks that had obviously fallen down and split at one point.
Photo: The path on the way to Vernal Falls.
Photo: A view into the valley as we hiked up the canyon.
Photo: We cross the Merced River again with Vernal Falls in the distance.
Photo: Another view of Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls.
Photo: There was plenty of snow on the trail as we decided to go to Nevada Falls - the higher one - first.
Photo: A view of Nevada Falls with Liberty Cap in the distance - a 7,000 foot high structure.
Photo: We start down and view Vernal Falls.
Photo: Looking down from the top of Vernal Falls.
Photo: The rock outcropping from Vernal Falls was filled with people resting and picnicking.
Photo: The water creates a mist and a rainbow at the bottom of Vernal Falls. The trail is called the Mist Trail and many people had raincoats on as they negotiated the ¼ mile of mist.
Photo: We also hiked to Mirror Lake. This is the most famous shot of Yosemite when the lake is full and the Half Dome is mirrored in the lake. Half Dome rises to almost 9000 feet and many people climb it.
Photo: The Queen takes a short nap on the way back from Mirror Lake.
Photo: There are many bear alert signs around the National Park.
Photo: This is the restaurant at the Hotel Ahwahnee at Yosemite Village. This is the most expensive place to stay in the park and was opened in 1927.