Journeying through Yosemite National Park

Mesmerising views, breath-taking hikes, spotting wild animals and jaw-dropping valleys carved by glaciers, Rama Sreekant drives you down the Yosemite National Park road

Half Dome, Cloud’s Rest, Glacier Point, El Capitan. Err...sounds Greek? Well, not if you are an avid rock climber or a mountaineering fanatic. The globally recognised landscape of Yosemite National Park is a stunning natural phenomenon and a haven for any nature enthusiast.

The park gets about 4 million visitors a year. While most people focus their visit on Yosemite Valley where the most dramatic terrain is found, the attractions extend far beyond this part of the mountains.

With barely 1.5 days to explore the park that is the size of a whole state, Rhode Island, we really didn’t know where to begin. And to resolve this dilemma when I reached out to the ebullient park ranger, he said, “I’d weep.” So going (or not going) by his word, as we shot through the Wawona Tunnel to arrive at the other end; I was unprepared for the spectacular view of Yosemite’s geologic wonders.

One word that came to my mind: awesome! Not only was I treated to a captivating view of El Capitan, but the mesmerising views of the Half Dome and Bridalveil Falls was divine, too! The tunnel itself is quite an engineering marvel with its power lines, carbon monoxide sensors and high-speed fans. While driving around in the park, you can spot several wild animals including bears, mountain lions and Bobcats.

From Giant Sequoia groves housing 200 ft trees over 2,000 years old, to breath-taking valleys carved by glaciers, and home to the highest waterfall in America, to high meadows filled with rivers, lakes, and wildflowers, Yosemite is a must-do. While most people visit the park during summer, it really depends what you are looking for. Yosemite National Park has many options for the hiker. You can do a short or long hike; you can do an easy, intermediate or difficult hike. You choose and Yosemite delivers.

Watch out
For ‘Bear’ warnings all around in the park. If you are staying overnight in Yosemite you will be made very aware of being ‘Bear Safe’ with your food and any scented item in your car. This includes anything that even looks or smells like food.

Getting there
Visitors can enter Yosemite National Park via California Hwy 120 from the east or west, via Hwy 41 from the south or Hwy 140 from the west. Yosemite is a three-to-four-hour drive from San Francisco and about six hours from Los Angeles. The nearest airports are in Fresno and Merced.