California road trip: 7 tips for Yosemite National Park

It's been a good year since we went to the cinema to see the documentary Free Solo. The film shows how extreme climber Alex Honnold conquers El Capitan in Yosemite National Park without any belays. We are talking about a 1.000 meters high rock face!

The movie was very impressive and I can definitely recommend it to you. It also came to German cinemas at just the right time. Because a few weeks after we had marveled at El Capitan on the big screen, we actually stood in front of this huge rock face in the U.S. state of California – and were speechless. It was incredible to stand there, really incredible.

Next to El Capitan is the so-called Half Dome (2.693 m) by the way also insanely impressive (right picture with me in the foreground).

Basti and I have seen a lot on our travels, but Yosemite National Park is definitely one of our highlights and all-time-favorites. For three days we hiked through the park and it showed us – despite the winter season – its best side. We had bright blue skies and sun most of the time in mid April 2019. Only once did the weather change briefly and it suddenly snowed. This was also wonderful (I love thick snowflakes).

1. Book your accommodation in time

We made our road trip through California very spontaneous. Means: We had booked in advance once again only the flights (from Frankfurt to San Francisco and from L.A. back to Frankfurt), the first Airbnb in San Francisco and very shortly before our departure the accommodation in Yosemite Park. Why? Because the accommodations in and around the park are incredibly expensive and can make a big hole in your travel budget. Therefore, informs you absolutely early if you want to look at the Yosemite Park (and you want in any case😉 ).

2. Our recommendation: The Quality Inn in Mariposa

In the end we decided to stay at the Quality Inn in Mariposa. We can highly recommend this hotel. Here are a few reasons:

3. Check out the routes

In April some routes in the park are still (partly) closed, because often snow is still there. But that is not bad at all. There are still plenty of trails where you can explore the park. The good thing about the winter season: The waterfalls still carry a lot of water. In summer/autumn, however, it may be that you see no water there at all.

So inform yourself well about the routes. And have a look at the map of the shuttle bus (the bus is free of charge, by the way). We did not really do that. We had the map with plan in the backpack, but somehow we assumed that the bus route is much larger than it then actually was. On the second day we walked the whole loop trail and at the end of the day I had 26 km on my watch. The plan was actually to just walk the half and then take the bus back.

On the way back we had to overcome a few adventurous passages and had to fight our way through the thicket for a short time, because we didn't see the right way anymore. Once we wanted to balance even over a tree trunk, which led over a rather large river. But halfway we stopped the whole thing. The danger to fall down was too big from the tree trunk..

4. Bridalveil Fall

But our mega-tour had something good: We were able to have a look at Bridalveil Fall. A waterfall is not necessarily so special, may think now one or the other. But it is really worth to have a look at this one. It lives up to its name and really looks like a bridal veil. If you get really close to the falls, you will also get wet in spring.

Speaking of waterfalls: The Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls are also very worth seeing.

5. Mist Trail to Nevada Falls

On our first day in the Valley we walked the Mist Trail to Nevada Falls. The tour lasted four hours. Some sections were still closed due to the winter season. Nevertheless the way was wonderful and the view great.

6. Good to know

Finally some general information. Last year we paid 35 US dollars entrance fee for Yosemite Park. The ticket was valid for six days. Parking is plentiful in Yosemite Valley. At least that was the case in April. We also didn't have to stand in traffic jams forever to get into the park. But it looks different in summer.

The roads were no problem at all. At the car rental at the airport in San Francisco the guy wanted us to believe that we could get stuck with our rental car. This is complete nonsense. You don't need a huge car with four wheel drive. We had absolutely no difficulties.

It's worth packing your hiking boots. The trails were still partly muddy and crossed by small watercourses. Once we had to walk over a snow field. Thanks to our walking shoes we always had dry feet and were well protected in the thicket (you never know what kind of animals are crawling around there…).

7. Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias

On the third day we checked out of the Quality Inn after breakfast and visited the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. It is also about an hour's drive from Mariposa. In the southernmost part of Yosemite National Park you can marvel at giant sequoias (and even walk through a few).

We could not drive with our rental car directly up to the redwoods, because the road was still closed at that time. So we had to walk the last two miles (ca. 3 km) walk to the entrance. Our ticket from Yosemite Valley was also valid for Mariposa Grove, so we didn't have to pay the entrance fee again.

At the entrance you can then get an overview of the different paths. We walked the Giant Grizzly Loop (ca. two hours). The trail passes by the Giant Grizzly tree, which is about 2.800 years old!

There was still a lot of snow on some of the trails, so we recommend hiking boots here as well.

All in all, the national park was just unbelievably impressive to us. The entrance is super cheap and there is so much to discover. So be sure to make time for it when you are in California.

Schoffel collection in test

By the way: During our California road trip we were allowed to test a collection from Schoffel. Underneath u.a. Rain jackets, shirts and fleece jackets. How we liked the stuff, you can read on the INTERSPORT Blog.

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