Yosemite National Park

Yosemite is unspeakably beautiful and the valley is not what I was expecting at all.

Day 1: Sequoia and Kings Canyon to Yosemite

We took our time driving to Yosemite and even so we got there plenty early. Checkin was 5:00 PM but we were able to get into our cabin right away. Well, after some mysterious checking with housekeeping. It’s actually pretty nice for national park lodging. It’s not a huge room, but it’s big enough and the shower is larger than a phone booth. We have our own little bench outside to sit on and we have a waterfall to listen to. We didn’t do much our first day here, basically unpacked and had drinks and dinner.

cars waiting at road construction
Patiently waiting for road construction on the Wawona Road.

We were not expecting the Pacific dogwood. They were everywhere and were beautiful. 

Day 2: El Capitan and Mirror Lake Trail

We heard today that they’re closing down a couple of the campgrounds because the river is rising. No word on closing down the valley yet. They already did that once this year when the river got high due to snow melt. So we thought we better see as much as we could of the valley today.

Side note: They’re not kidding when they say parking is tight in Yosemite. If you find a spot, leave your vehicle there and take the shuttle. You may not find another parking spot. We had a parking spot since we were staying in the park and we did not move the card until we left.

cars and Half Dome

We took the shuttle around to the El Capitan stop and got out and wandered around and took some photos and then walked to the next step which also looked like it would be scenic but it was closed.

cliffs and river

We got back on the shuttle and took it around to Mirror Lake where we hiked up to the lake.

Mirror Lake

On our way home we detoured through Curry Village to check out the dining options. Pizza looks like it might be pretty good. We’ll probably be having that one night. We’re going to have sub sandwiches tonight.

We haven’t seen much wildlife. Some birds, mostly crows. A lizard on the trail. Squirrels.

Day 3: Yosemite Falls and the Mist Trail

A crow joined us for breakfast this morning. He was probably disappointed we didn’t share our muffins with him, but he hung out with us for a bit and grumbled about it. Then while Steve was indoors one of the local chickarees was up here on the porch with me enjoying the sun. Later we saw him or one of his relatives taking a dust bath right next to the picnic table. We got some good photos of stellar jays today too. They are quite comical looking.

Our first stop today was #6 to check out Yosemite Falls.

Yosemite Falls

We kept seeing the same group of older people on the bus stopping at the picnic areas. We’d originally planned on stopping at #11 to check out the view, but we got a late start and the bus was full so we ended up taking it all the way over to Happy Isles to do the Mist Trail.

cliff along Mist Trail

Day 4: Stoneman Meadow

I didn’t feel great so we had a light day today. We actually didn’t get on a shuttle. We mostly hung around the cabin and went for a walk across nearby Stoneman Meadow which got us some nice views of yet another waterfall, Half Dome, and the river.

Stoneman Meadow

We tried the pizza place for dinner, splitting a large El Capitan which was pretty good. Not great but good for national park food.

Day 5: Sentinel Falls and Swinging Bridge

We’d been talking about stopping at the visitor center. Today we did that. At the bus driver’s suggestion, we got off at #2 and walked there rather than staying on the shuttle through the loop by the hotel. Then we walked from there over to #6 by the falls to get back on. They’re rerouting the roads in the valley so that they’re all one way only. Our next stop was #8, the El Capitan picnic area where we got some nice views of Horsetail Falls. Then back on the shuttle to number 11 for views of Sentinel Falls and the swinging bridge. It was a nice day. We saw things and got some walking in, if not an actual hike.

Sentinel Falls

The river continues to rise, though they haven’t closed any additional areas yet. We heard they are extending the closure of the currently closed areas through Friday. The river is expected to rise another foot.

Day 6: Back to Mirror Lake

We went back over to Mirror Lake today and walked on the paved road. On the way back, someone saw a mama bear and cub from the shuttle. We also experimented with the panorama mode on the phone.

panorama of Stoneman Meadow

Day 7: Hanging out around our Cabin

Another lazy day today. We walked over to the other side of the meadow today to sit for a while. Thanks to the bear sighting yesterday that didn’t last long. So we went behind the restaurants and such and sat in the woods there. We’ve seen a fair amount of wildlife just around our cabin.

cabin with illuminated Half Dome
Not a traditional sunset, but Half Dome illuminated through the trees.

Day 8: Wawona

We’re still in Yosemite, moving “homes” to Wawona. We got to see some more sights and new territory on our way there, including great views at Valley View and Tunnel View.

Valley View
Valley View, on the El Portal Road.
Tunnel View
Tunnel View, on the Wawona Road.

We saw Bridalveil Falls and a couple of other falls along the way. 

We couldn’t check in right away so we drove to Chilnualna Falls. Or near there. We didn’t want to commit to a walk we knew nothing about. We walked a bit of the meadow loop near Wawona until we hit mud.

Then we sat on the lovely old-fashioned front porch and read for a while.

We had pre-dinner drinks out there too, then dinner at the hotel restaurant. The Wawona Hotel is pretty with lots of Victorian gingerbread. It is a ways from the sights in Yosemite Valley. We’d planned to visit Glacier Point from here but alas it was still closed due to snow. 

sunset behind hotel


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We liked both places we stayed in Yosemite. Curry Village is a great location in the valley. We had a cabin with one double bed and private bath. Hard sided, to keep the bears out! You cannot keep any food in your vehicle overnight and need to keep the windows closed if you have food in the room. And there’s no fridge. There was ice for sale at the market in Curry Village. Wawona is nice but not near the valley. Book well in advance. I booked a year out — as soon as I could — and was able to book the cabin for a week. It’s pricey but well worth it to stay in the park and avoid long waits to enter the park. All lodging and dining is run through Aramark at TravelYosemite.com


We had pizza at Curry Village and dinner at the Wawona Hotel. Both were good, especially for national park food. Captive audience and all. The other nights we ate sandwiches and stuff that we brought with us. 


The free shuttles in the park work very well. We parked our car on arrival and used them. There is a bus service to the park from towns in the area, though we didn’t need that.