I hate to have to write about Yosemite because I know I can’t describe just how awesome it is. There are five main areas in Yosemite; Yosemite Valley which is probably the most visited area, Tioga Pass which is the only road that runs east and west from one side of the park to the other, Hetch Hetchy, Glacier Point, and Mariposa Grove of Giants. We spent our first day in the valley and I assumed that would be the best part since it’s such a high traffic area. It was a very cool experience and we saw amazing sights like Half Dome and El Capitan. We went to the visitor centers, walked the trails to see some incredible views, drove the whole loop, and took the shuttle to areas where cars weren’t allowed. We watched an unbelievable sunset of intense vibrant colors that ended up repeating itself every night. To our surprise, the other days just got better and better. Tioga Pass is mile after mile of breathtaking beauty; massive mountains of granite jutting out of the earth shaped by water, erosion, glaciers, and earthquakes. Hetch Hetchy ends at a water reservoir and has a great trail that goes over the dam and through a tunnel. Mariposa Grove is a forest of Giant Sequoias, the largest trees in the world. Even standing right next to one, touching one, it’s hard to comprehend that these living things are thousands of years old and so gigantic. They’ve survived fires, droughts, insect carried diseases, and humans and are still standing strong. I saved the best for last- Glacier Point. Being there is such a spiritual experience; standing on one mountain overlooking a chain of mountains so overwhelmingly huge is impossible to recreate with words. Even pictures can’t get close to the feeling of being there. Granite as far as the eye can see, the mountains are art made by nature more beautiful than any man could create. I could have stayed right there forever. Five of the kids and I put Yosemite on our list of top 5 favorite national parks of the 14 we’ve been to so far. Allena, my 11 year old, who has loved the national parks up to this point, wasn’t impressed with “just more and more mountains” and thought the all day drive across Tioga Pass was boring.
I felt like Kings Canyon and Sequoia were just extensions of Yosemite. The beauty continued and other than the drive to get there, they could have been separate areas of one big park. I highly recommend that if you take the time to visit Yosemite, that you make time to visit these two as well.
Kings Canyon surpassed any expectations I had. It is such a beautiful place, I would go as far as to say it’s as beautiful as Yosemite. I absolutely loved it there. The mountains and canyons are remarkable, each corner we rounded got better and better.
Sequoia was a very cool place. We walked 300 feet through a tunnel made of a fallen tree and drove through another fallen tree tunnel. We got to stand under the world’s largest tree and get pictures of some of Earth’s largest living organisms. Walking amongst these giants is extraordinary.
*pic- the kids on the roots of a fallen sequoia