Yosemite: The Must-See American Treasure

Are you searching for the perfect fall vacation spot or planning for next summer?  Look no further than Yosemite National Park in California.  I’m not the kind of girl who can lay on a beach in the hot sun for 8 hours a day and prefer to be moving, doing, and seeing.  In late July, I hopped a plane to California to do some exploring with my fiance and found this gem that is truly a national treasure all Americans should experience. If you haven’t gone yet, you need to.

While there are many hotels and places to stay around the Sierra Nevada mountains, why not sleep under the towering rocks of Glacier Point, Half Dome, and El Capitan? Within the valley floor of Yosemite, you have quite a few sleeping options that range from the famous high-end celebrity-visited Ahwahnee Hotel, to the more affordable Yosemite Lodge at the Falls, to the rugged, summer-camp style Curry Village.  Whichever location you choose, you are sure to wake up to spectacular views!

If you’re traveling on a budget or you’re a picky eater, I would advise buying one of those styrofoam coolers on your drive into Yosemite and stocking up on snacks and drinks; just don’t forget to protect it from bears if you’re staying in a cabin!  Otherwise, once in Yosemite, you can enjoy a variety of dining options from the food court-style Pavillion, the Pizza Deck, the Coffee Corner, the Grill Meadow or the more upscale restaurants in the main village such as the Mountain Room Restaurant and Lounge, the Ahwahnee dining hall, the Village Grill, or Degnan’s Deli.

Though sleeping and eating is always fun, the real excitement comes from the myriad of activities you can experience while in Yosemite.  Hiking is an obvious must-do activity and any trail you decide to travel, despite your hiking experience will lead you to some deeper perspective of paradise. Another great way to see the sights–but save your knees–is to rent a bike and glide around the paved roads and trails within the park.  But before crashing into bed at night, be sure to look up! The deep black sky speckled with hundreds of stars is reason enough to delve so deep into nature. If exploring solo is not your thing, or if you’re traveling with kids, the park offers a variety of educational programs and guided tours such as the Moonlit Bike Tour, Glacier Point Stargazing Tour, Valley Floor Tour, and the Tuolumne Meadows Tour.

Be sure to plan your trip early as many hotels and tours get booked quickly. Also, pack a variety of clothes to stay warm at night and cool in the afternoons.  While Yosemite may not be the typical vacation destination, it is one of the few that will genuinely blow your mind.

Photo courtesy of Edward Stojakovic @ Flickr Creative Commons

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