California had been a fully-fledged state for about a year before Yosemite was discovered. These days the park isn’t quite so secluded but it’s still home to some of the most stunning scenery to be found in the world. Although it can’t boast the huge canyon panorama’s of the Grand Canyon, or the fabulous powerful waterfalls famous at Niagara, Yosemite has something that’s quite unique in that it has so many different natural environments within the one area – from amazing mountain top views, to crystal streams, natural water features, glaciers and meadow-lands, Yosemite has something different to show at almost each turn in the road.
The first place you need to stop at is Yosemite Village. If you’re planning on staying overnight in the park, this is also the area you’ll probably be sleep as almost all overnight park guests prefer to stay within this 8 square mile area. The Village is where you’ll find a good map to help you locate all the park highlights (invaluable if you don’t have much time to spend in the park!), as well as tell you what’s happening around the park that day. If you want to take advantage of any of the shuttle buses that operate between the Village and some of the park’s highlights, this is also the place you need to be.
If you want to get more in touch with nature, whilst not getting to far off the beaten track (and there’s plenty of opportunity for that too!), then plan to explore the eastern side of the park where there are stricter restrictions on transportation with cars not being allowed into the area. Here you can ride the shuttle bus into the area and then enjoy some hiking or alternatively cycle in, without the sound of constant car engines interfering with the sounds of nature.
Yosemite isn’t just for summer, and although some of its finest views such as the meadow will be covered over, it’s also a winter playground for those who love snow sports. If you plan on visiting the park during the winter months however, make sure you check what parts of the park are accessible and open, and what facilities you’ll find there. You’ll also find that the type of accommodation will be more limited during the winter months so book in advance around any main holiday periods.
Even if you only have a day to spend at Yosemite National Park, you’ll see things that will provide memories to last a lifetime, whether it’s the Yosemite Falls (North America’s highest falls), the huge redwood trees of Mariposa Grove or the alpine beauty of the Tuolumne Meadows.