One of the most impressive National Parks on the West Coast and in the entire United States is Yosemite National Park.
Its exuberant nature and its relative proximity to cities like San Francisco or Los Angeles make it a must see if you are thinking of traveling to California or want to do a road trip along the West Coast.
In this post you will find a complete guide to visit Yosemite National Park, with what to see in the park, practical advice, how to get there, how to get around, where to stay... Everything you need to know to prepare your trip!
In other California articles I have already told you about Yosemite, and it is one of my favorite places. Yosemite National Park is located in the Sierra Nevada of California and occupies an area of 3,029 km2.
The area where the park now occupies was once inhabited by different Indian tribes (mainly Ahwahnechee) until the mid-19th century, when they were driven out and nearly wiped out in the Mariposa War (1850-51).
Although Yosemite was protected thanks to Abraham Lincoln in 1864, it was established as a National Park in 1890, by then becoming one of the top ten national parks in the world.
It was not until 1984 that Yosemite National Park was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco.
In the park you will find impressive rock formations, wild animals, giant sequoias, lakes of glacial origin, rivers, waterfalls, lush vegetation and movie landscapes. It is very difficult not to fall in love with Yosemite.
When you start preparing your trip you should keep in mind that Yosemite National Park is very large. It spread over 4 California counties.
However, the vast majority of its visitors are concentrated in Yosemite Valley, an area of barely 20 km2 that is located in the southwestern sector. It is the easiest area to visit, with the best access and where you will find more infrastructures (campsites, hotels, the tourist service point, shops, restaurants...).
Being the most popular area, there are also more people. But depending on the time of year you travel, you may find this area practically empty, as it happened to us. We have traveled to Yosemite Park twice, once at the end of May and once at the end of September. We were very lucky because we hardly found crowds.
WHAT TO SEE AND DO IN YOSEMITE
Yosemite Valley area
To visit only this area of Yosemite Valley I recommend a couple of days. Especially if you intend to do some of the walks to get to the waterfalls or the viewpoints.
If you're coming to Yosemite from the South, Tunnel View is the first picture of Yosemite you'll come across. Awesome! This viewpoint is located at the foot of the road at the entrance to the Wawona tunnel. From here you will have stunning views of the Valley, with El Capitan on the left and the Cathedral Rocks and Bridalveil Falls on the right.