I finally made it to Yosemite National Park after all these years of visiting San Francisco and northern California!
We had an early start. The daytrip to Yosemite National Park from my cousin’s house near Modesto promised to be a long day. The distance was not even 100 miles but because of the zigzagged route, it still took almost three hours to reach our first stop within the park.
Daytrip to Yosemite National Park
We were fortunate to have been blessed with gorgeous weather. The temperature was very comfortable and there were hardly any clouds as well. We arrived at the Big Oak entrance (a $30 fee is required for each four-wheel vehicle) just before nine in the morning with plans to go to Glacier Point first before coming back down to check out Yosemite Village. On our way to Glacier Point, we stopped by the Tunnel View lookout. The sun was already high up the sky and the clouds and mists were slowly dissipating so the views were fantastic. The sight indeed looked like something you’d see from a tunnel. You have the imposing El Capitan on the left foreground and the infamous Half Dome recognizable from the distance.
After that brief stop at the Tunnel View lookout, we continued towards Glacier Point. It took another 45 minutes to drive up there but the sceneries were totally worth it. You can see most of the middle valley from up there with the Half Dome at its core. We walked around for about half an hour, encountered a park ranger who reminded us to avoid squirrels since some of them have been known to carry a virus that can make anyone very ill, and took some incredible photos before heading back to the car. My four-and-a-half year old niece was already complaining of boredom so I did my best to entertain her with facts about the park. I also explained to her that nature, especially one that is as beautiful as Yosemite, can never be boring though she didn’t quite get what I meant by that…yet.
The third stop on this daytrip to Yosemite National Park was at Sentinel Beach where we sat up camp and ate our packed lunch. From here, you can see both Brothers’ peaks as well as Eagle’s Peak. The Sentinel River had light, slightly cold, but clear water where the kids and I played after munching on homemade chicken salad sandwiches, crisps, fruit, and cheese. The older of my two nieces spent a good amount of time making mud pies in the river (she told me that nature was no longer boring because there was water) while the little one chilled with her parents and granny inside the portable tent. We hung out there for about an hour before heading to our last stop of the day, Yosemite Village.
A short ten-minute drive saw us pulling into the packed parking lot at Yosemite Village. The Village is where most people who’ve never been to the park begin their exploration of Yosemite Valley. It has a small museum that tells you about both the geological and cultural history of the park. It’s also the starting point for a few of the park’s most popular hiking trails (Yosemite Falls, Cooks Meadow Loop, and Glacier Point.) During summer season, there are shuttle busses that stop at different interest points within the park. It makes traveling from one point to another more efficient so its perfect for those just planning to take a daytrip to Yosemite. It’s also a great option for anyone who cannot walk far distances.
My aunt and I took advantage of the shuttle and got off the Lower Yosemite Falls stop in order to take the short hike to see the falls. The California drought was clearly evident because there was hardly any water. It was visibly dry from afar, though if you look closely, you’ll still see falling droplets. The falls was slightly disappointing but the looped-hike was full of beautiful scenery so it more than made up for it. We stopped by for quick refreshments at the canteen in the Village before driving back home.
Yosemite National Park was the main goal for this impromptu Northern California trip. I’ve always wanted to go there for years but often failed to do so because of time constraints. The park is truly beautiful as the photos reveal but even the best ones I took couldn’t possibly match the ones that I saw with my own eyes.
When we arrived back to the house, my cousin asked me to pick a location for another daytrip destination the next day. I told her that it didn’t matter where or if we go anywhere else at all. I’ve already been to Yosemite and that was all that mattered.