Our nineteenth park in our forty-seven park adventure brought us to Yosemite Valley. There is so much to do in these big parks it can be a bit overwhelming to find a starting place, so we wanted to share some quick tips from our experience visiting during early Spring.
- The Half Dome cables (required to hike it) are down from early October to late May, so if this is a make or break hike, plan to visit outside of those times.
- Hike Upper Yosemite Falls and the Mist Trail (Vernal and Nevada Falls). Set aside a day for each, they’re both steep in elevation and pretty exhausting.
- For quick stops check out lower Yosemite Falls, Bridalveil Fall, and Mirror Lake. Stop at the Tunnel View turnoff for a great view of the valley on your way in.
- First off, we have found it fits our lifestyle best not to reserve campgrounds ahead of time. Having said that, Yosemite is one of the most popular parks in the nation, and we happened to visit during Spring Break. Upper Pines is the only drive-in campground open during this time, so if you are intent on having your own drive-up spot (and a little extra privacy) stay here. We stayed one night before getting the boot (the weekenders had the place fully booked). If you are still intent on staying here when it’s full, you can get on the waiting list or check in at 3pm to snag a cancellation spot.
- If you are cool with a community vibe, head over to Camp 4 near the Valley exit. For $6/person/night you can pitch your tent in what felt like a festival. Guitars are playing well into the night, and you typically share a fire pit with at least a few others. We got lucky and paired up with a group of nine dudes from Oregon State who we had a blast playing Uno and hiking with.
- Yosemite has a weird rule where you have to wash your dishes at your campsite, and then toss your gray water at the sink. In other words, no dishwashing station. Not something you need to prepare for, just threw us off a little bit.
- You can grab a free shower at Half Dome Village next to the mountaineering school, and use the laundromat at the vacant Housekeeping camp.
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