Yosemite National Park:
Yosemite National Park remains one of the most iconic outdoor adventure areas in the United States, providing hikes and scenery for all ages. Both the adventurous and the close to camp folks will love the outdoor experience that Yosemite has to offer.
Yosemite National Park remains one of the most iconic outdoor adventure areas in the United States. I am always eager to jump at the chance to get back there whenever I can, recently I had the opportunity to take one of my nephew’s there for his first trip. The plan was to stay in Curry Village, with the nights still being quite cold I wanted to test out one of the heated tent cabins, where we would be central to many hiking trails, including the John Muir Trail. If you’ve never been to Curry Village then I encourage you to do so, it is centrally located to many things the park has to offer, including some fantastic views of Half Dome mountain. Curry Village is a well known replenishing spot for supplies as well as the company of fellow hikers/backpackers, with a buffet style restaurant for breakfast, dinner, and lunch, an surprisingly reasonable pricing. If you are looking for something easier there is a great pizza place, albeit the wait can be very long during busy times (plan your meal 30-45 min. before normal times and avoid the traffic). The tent cabins are set back towards the woods in a very nice shaded area, with just a few steps away from the camp center. The Tent Cabin that we rented was very spacious, 3 twin-sized beds, shelving rack, and a bear locker outside large enough to fit 2-3 full size backpacks. Linens and towels were provided also, and a wool blanket for each bed. Yes, the prices are close to what you might have been used to in the past paying for a hotel but nowhere do you get the views Curry Village has to offer, it’s like luxury backpacking but hey sometimes we all need a break.
We decided to drive in from the west side, since we were coming from the southern California area. You know you have arrived in paradise after a long drive and you finally go through the tunnel, one of the first sights that you see is the picturesque Yosemite Valley. There is a pull off on the left immediately after exiting the tunnel, careful it is crowded almost all the time with buses and people taking photos! This breathtaking view reminds you of the wonders that are ahead of you in Yosemite!
After a few more miles of winding and twisting roads, passing waterfalls and open meadows, we arrived in Curry Village. There is a parking area at the reservation office, which was a welcome sight after being in the car for 6+ hours. I had reserved the Tent Cabin online so it was a quick in and out with the keys, inside there were bear warnings and videos playing to remind visitors not to leave food in the car or even empty container like coolers because yes bears recognize those as being associated with possibly food containers. Once you’ve seen a few doors completely bent and ripped open on cars you will learn quickly that you are not in the city anymore and animal life is to be respected! Not that there isn’t enough animal life living in our cities as well!
After a quick trip to the Tent Cabin to drop some gear, we headed out to explore. Just outside the cabin areas is a large parking lot and a central place for catching the buses that carry you along a route of all the trail heads as well as Yosemite Village. The buses are free, and run about every 30 min at each drop off, so it is very convenient when you want to jump from trail to trail, check the signs at each stop for the trail head numbers and where it is on the bus routes. The only hard part you will have is figuring out where you want to go first.
I had decided this trip to try out a new Osprey Rev 18 Hydration pack. I really like this pack because of the functionality and light weight it offers. The hydration pack can hold up to 3 liters, and the large zippered area has to ability to hold just about everything I want for a day hike, as well as holding a few items just in case things did not go as planned and you had to spend a night out in the woods. In a later post I will cover what I recommend carrying in your day pack, and why. We will also be testing out the Osprey Talon 22 on some future trips, which is very similar to the Osprey Rev but with some added features and a few liters larger. My only complaints initially on the Osprey Rev and the Osprey Talon are the zippered pockets on the waist straps are much too far back to be of any comfort in reaching without contorting yourself. Some like having pockets along the sides and some don’t, it depends on your personal taste and fit. If you live in a region where heat is a concern I recommend choose a lighter color for your pack, living in southern California heat is a big concern in desert areas and the darker a color shade the more heat it will absorb, which will make wearing your pack much hotter on your back and also heat up the contents of your pack. (I like to added some ice to my hydration bladder with my water for two reasons, a nice refreshing cool drink of water is nice on the trail and it will help to keep your back cool as you are wearing it (do not try freezing your bladder, it can ruin the seams).
Our first hike we decided to go to Mirror Lake (shuttle stop #17), this is a seasonal lake so it does not always hold water, the trail is a 2-mile hike round trip, or a 5 mile loop around the lake. The downside of this trail is that it is commonly used by horseback riders which cause it to become very muddy and yes watch where you step because there is no cleanup of the horse manure. The trail is fairly easily with only a few minor inclinations and rocky steps. Allow yourself about two-three hours for the round trip depending on your pace and how long you intend to stay at the lake or meadow depending on the season.
If you want something easier for the little ones, you can try Bridalveil Falls which has a nicely paved walkway leading from the parking lot to the base of the falls, which flows year-round. There can be lots of spray from the falls during spring, in winter it is likely to encounter icy conditions. There are also great paths along the rivers running through Yosemite Valley, with water so crystal clear you can see the rainbow trout swimming freely.
The bottom line is you cannot go wrong with a Yosemite Adventure, there is something that everyone will enjoy, whether it is a nice easy stroll through the trees or the extreme of climbing half dome. If you want the luxuries of sleeping in a bed at night with a nice sit down dinner, or if you love getting close to nature and sleeping under the stars and enjoying your Mountain House dinner. Millions of people come from around the world each year to enjoy Yosemite National Park, and there is a good reason!
Remember to dress for the season, nights are cool in the spring and weather can sometimes change unpredictably. Always remember to secure your food and food containers even if empty from the local bear population.
Yosemite National Park
- Amazing Outdoor Scenery
- Well maintained trails except where horses are allowed.
- Camping options are unlimited, bring your own tent or a tent cabin in Curry Village.
- Reasonable prices for food, breakfast, lunch, pizza, and beer available.
- Fishing is allowed with a state license.
- Most camp bathrooms have only one toilet, so there is always a line, and the seat is always warm!
- Showers are so tiny you can barely turn, and they are dirty.
- It gets crowded at times, but you can hike out away for some solitude.