As soon as I knew I was moving away from San Francisco, visiting Yosemite National Park became a priority. I’d never been there before and knew this would be the prime opportunity to go see it.
Yosemite is kinda close to San Francisco but far enough away to be hard to get if you don’t do at least a little planning. My husband and I had just a long weekend to devote to the short road trip, so the first thing I did was plot how long it would take to get to the park plus allow some time for sightseeing. It wouldn’t be an in-depth visit, but at least we’d get an overview.
Since we were already going all that way, I decided to take the scenic route via Mono Lake.
It was definitely the long way around, but this way we could arrive at the eastern entrance and depart from the western.
We first drove over Tioga Pass, a beautiful and dramatic way to go. We stopped a few times to take photos before continuing on deeper into the park.
It was late summer so the once thick and thundering waterfalls were replaced by thin dribbles of water, and at times we could barely make out where the waterfalls would normally be.
The air was crisp and cool and you could see your breath if you exhaled just so. No snow had yet fallen and the trails were clear to roam.
As dusk approached we considered waiting until the next day to drive up Glacier Point Road to Glacier Point, an excellent viewpoint for Half Dome, but decided we might as well squeeze it in. Plus, if we timed it right we’d get a great sunset and have more of the next day to explore other parts of the park.
The view from Glacier Point was spectacular. We were high above the valley and just about eye level with Half Dome, one of the most well-known and recognizable landmarks in the park. The sun was setting and soon the sky turned from a light blue to purple and the moon hovered brightly above the horizon. Lots of other people had gathered there to take in the sight and we all sat quietly enjoying nature at its best.
The following morning when I peered out our window I wondered if we had fallen asleep when it was summer and awoken in the middle of winter. There was a light coating of snow and big flakes continued to drop heavily from the sky.
As I watched the snow accumulate on the roads, I was glad we had decided to make the trek up to Glacier Point the previous day because when we headed back into the park we saw that the road was now closed (a good reminder to take advantage of opportunities when they first present themselves).
The main road into Yosemite Valley and the heart of the park was still open, thankfully, and by now the snow had stopped falling and had mostly melted. But in lieu of blue skies we had low-hanging clouds that clung to the tops of the mountains. Still pretty, but we definitely were not getting views of Half Dome today.
I only saw a tiny portion of Yosemite National Park during our very abbreviated trip, but it’s easy to see why so many people love it there. I’m glad we made the effort to see it at least once while we lived nearby-ish in San Francisco because I’m guessing with the crazy-expensive home prices in the Bay Area we won’t be moving back any time soon.