Yosemite was on my mind a lot even before we got there. It has always been one of those places we always wanted to go to, and luckily it is not too far away from San Francisco (where our hotel was.) There are different restrictions depending on weather or the time of the year, such as having chains for your tires, so we decided on doing a day trip with a local tour bus. We really liked the company Gray Line when we went to Iceland, so in San Francisco we booked with them again. The tour guides are amazing and great at answering any questions too!
Location wise, the park is about 140 miles east of San Francisco and about 100 miles southeast of Sacramento. It is a mountain range (Sierra Nevada Range) surrounded by natural forest land. Depending on the time of year that you visit, the weather can vary from extremely warm in the summer to bitterly cold and snowy in the winter. I think with this National Park, it is crucial that you make sure the weather conditions are safe before you go.
One of the first places that we went to on the tour was El Capitan. When I had the opportunity to personally view El Capitan, I was blown away. It is an immaculate granite monolith, with vertical walls expanding 7,569 feet above sea level. In Spanish, the name El Capitan is translated to “The Captain.” Our tour guide also informed us that it is a very popular place for rock climbing, which if you look through your binoculars, you may see. If you do see them, they barely look like dots on this gigantic mountain. I honestly do not think I saw any, however, due to the size of the climbers from my vantage point, they would be difficult to find.
A distinguishing feature of El Capitan is the heart formation right in the middle of it. You can really see this in the photos that we took on the tour. It is a unique feature of this mountain, and I can see how many artists and photographers really flock to this range.
If you are looking for a peaceful region of the park, Yosemite Falls would be your best bet. They are visible from numerous places around Yosemite Valley, and particularly by the Yosemite Village and Valley Lodge. The waterfall is one of the largest in North America, and is highly active November through July with the largest flow in May. (The snowfall melt is the greatest during spring which helps in the water accumulation in the Falls.) Our photos were taken in late winter to give you a time perspective.
While the mountain ranges within Yosemite are immaculate, the woodlands and tree ecosystems are as well. In the park, you will see thick areas of trees, which interestingly enough have sometimes been burnt. To provide you with a historical perspective on this, during different time periods the forests have been set on fire to promote vegetation growth. Currently, fires are becoming more of an issue with their increased prevalence due to lack of precipitation. When you actually see this in person, you can tell how it is effecting the wildlife.
Yosemite is a truly special place, and I highly recommend that you visit this park. It will change your life in a very positive way. It is truly magnificent, precious, elegant and will leave you with a profound respect for the Earth, and all she is.
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