Spontaneous Day Trip to Yosemite National Park

yosemite national park

Up the long, winding roads we went on our way to Yosemite. Our guide, who drives this route 3 times per week, was taking the curves like a complete pro, and by pro, I mean maniac. What they forget to tell you before you step onto the bus is to make friends with your neighbor because you’ll no doubt be sliding into them repeatedly during the last hour of the drive to the park.

It takes about 6 hours round trip from San Francisco to Yosemite so if you don’t do well with long car rides, bring some dramamine and try to pass out on the ride. If you forget something at home, you can stock up on what you need including water and snacks at a local drugstore or gas station about 1.5 hours into the journey. However, I don’t recommend falling asleep, if you can resist, because it’s quite a scenic drive the whole way. There are a lot of great photos to be taken on the drive alone.

yosemite national park

Our guide was entertaining to say the least. Not only throwing out historical facts and fun tidbits along the way, he had a custom made soundtrack that fit every place, iconic statue, and theme of the trip. At each place we stopped, you could catch him doing squats or lunges to break up the monotony of sitting for 15 hours. As individuals were being dropped off at their respective hotels at the end of the trip, he provided insight to the best places to eat and visit in San Francisco to blend in as a local. He was definitely one of the better tour guides I’ve had the pleasure of riding with.

Upon entering the park, we stopped briefly in 2 spots along Yosemite Valley for photo opportunities. The trees went on for miles, and it felt like I was staring directly at a “too good to be true” still of scenery. Met a new friend from Amsterdam (shameless shoutout: HI SUSAN!) with whom I hiked with to see the tall sequoias including “Big Red” and the Holey tree. During the 2 hours we were free to roam on our own, we rock climbed to Lower Yosemite Falls across from Yosemite Lodge. If you’re thinking this is something you’d like to do when you visit, rest assured that if little children can climb their way to the falls by themselves then so can you. No experience necessary, but some flexibility and basic balance skills recommended.

yosemite national park

On the way out, we saw people climbing El Capitain which supposedly one guy recently set the record and did it free form without ropes in 2.5 hours. Throughout the summer, there aren’t many climbers attempting to make it to the top as the rock is too hot to do so. As luck would have it though, we managed to see a couple of people making their way up and putting up hammocks to sleep in overnight. Their courage, self-reliance, and self-sufficiency is something to be admired.

As we approached San Francisco once more, our final stop was at Treasure Island from where you can get a beautiful, panoramic view of the city skyline.

My advice: Take 2-3 days in Yosemite instead of cramming it into a 14-hour day like I did. It was a great trip, and I’m glad I went. But one day is just too short to try and fit in all the majesty that Yosemite has to offer. Take the time to go camping, hiking different routes, and exploring. It’s always more enjoyable that way.

If you visit during the summer months, don’t forget to bring lots of sunscreen, your bathing suit, and perhaps some rock climbing shoes with good grip. You never know what kind of adventurous scenario you’ll find yourself in so it’s best to be prepared for any kind of fun that awaits.

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