From the Big Oak Flat Entrance to Yosemite National Park, it’s another 20 miles to reach the Yosemite Valley. This means from Yosemite Pines RV Resort, where we are staying, Yosemite Valley is 48 miles away, unless you are lucky enough (or not) to secure a reservation to camp in the National Park. Even then, the National Park brochure urges visitors within the park to use the free shuttle buses to sightsee. But, so far, we enjoy our first glimpses as we approach the Valley.
OMJeezaloo it is crowded here! Luckily we have a small car and can squeeze into impossible spaces.
We park and step out to get a view of El Capitan, the 3,593 foot granite monolith. (Yosemite National Park Visitor Guide)
Along the way in the grassy meadow, a bright blue bug sparkles in the sunlight.
We meander our way to the Valley Visitor Center only to get stuck in construction traffic and detours, not to mention all the bikers, and pedestrians, and babies in strollers.
I keep looking up to snap more pics just to keep my sanity. It is so crowded here! It takes forever to go from Point A to Point B but we make the most of it.
We backtrack south and head east to catch a view of Half Dome.
We see the sheer granite cliff of its backside first.
We circle a campground parking area until we pull into a space immediately after the previous car leaves. Before we walk across the street we catch a glimpse of the 3 smooth and round sides of granite that give Half Dome its name, rising 4,737 feet above the valley floor. (en.m.wikipedia.org)
The surrounding granite cliffs against the blue sky are impressive as well.
Glacier Point overlooks Yosemite Valley but it’s another 30 miles away. The 1 mile round trip hike to the scenic overlook is the best place to view Half Dome. But because of the crowds and distance, we opt out. The best I can do is share the following picture from yosemitehikes.com:
The Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias is 36 miles south of Yosemite Valley but has been closed for restoration since July 6, 2015. Below is a photo from June 2012 shared on paintyourlandscape.com. The building dwarfed by the trees is the Mariposa Grove Museum.
So… we leave the valley, relieved to get away from all the congestion and slightly disappointed. Have we become National Park snobs? Or are we just used to enjoying nature when most of the tourists stay home? Apparently Yosemite is always crowded unless you want to visit during November through April. (I read that somewhere…) I mean, we tried in June to get a campsite reservation for September with no luck. But I’m not sure staying within the park would make me change my opinion. I really can’t see myself taking shuttles to see the park along with a bus load of other tourists now that I am retired. Yeah, I am a full-time RVer snob! 😬
We head back 20 miles to the Big Oak Flat Entrance and remember seeing the road to Hetch Hetchy, an out-of-the mainstream drive. According to nps.org, this peaceful place is a vast wilderness of stunning views, hidden canyons, and remote lakes. It is also the starting point for many wilderness trails.
Hetch Hetchy is also a Reservoir supplying drinking water and hydroelectric power to San Francisco. ( Yosemite National Park Visitor Guide)
It’s another 20 miles though. So we just return to Yosemite Pines RV Resort where our dogs, Casey and Murph are waiting for us another 28 miles away.