Giant trees and a whole bunch of wildlife

Today we’ve got a full day to explore the wilderness of Yosemite National Park. And there’s lots of it!
Like Grand Canyon NP and Zion NP, Yosemite NP has its own free shuttle bus system. It runs on hybrid drive buses with diesel-electric power, which are on a 10 minute schedule. Great for hopping on or off!

We started our day off with a long drive to Mariposa Grove, where the giant Sequoia can be found. In total there are about 500 trees in both upper and lower Mariposa Grove of which trees with names like Faithful Couple, Grizzly Giant and California Tunnel Tree are the vest known trees.
And yes, we walked through a tunneled tree!
Previously, there were two, but the biggest of the two toppeled over in 1957.

There is very much wildlife to be seen in this park. There are a lot of deer, chipmunks, squirrels and even bears. We are proud to say we’ve seen all of those.
Yes, we even stumbeled upon a bear!
It was a small black bear, which is remarkably brown for it’s name. We suspect it was a juvenile bear, as it was not as big as a fully grown bear and there was not a big bear in its vicinity. We hope. We actually don’t know. It was a bear. And it was not as big as you’d think. Still a bear though! Amazing!

Yosemite is perhaps most famous for having huge waterfalls by the dozen. And huge they are! They are not by the dozen, but we visited the three most famous ones: Yosemite, Bridalvail and Nevada falls. Especially Bridalvail falls is amazing as it gives out a huge spray which photographs really well, but you and your camera will get soaked by doing so. Really big fun.
The park also boasts about having the best scenic view in the world. It is said to be from Glacier Point and is located around 7200 feet or 2200 metres above the valley floor. It also gives you a spectacular view of the granite mountains on the opposite side if the valley, which are whopping big and equally tall.
I must say, we were impressed by the shear size of it all and the grandeur such a view just has. Perfect place to end a wonderful day!

Unfortunately, as Yosemite National Park too is really big, we had a 45 minutes drive to the pizza place for our dinner. As described, there was not a lot to choose from, so pizza it was! Good pizza, even though we were both too tired to enjoy it fully.

We tucked in early, as the next day would be the day that we are driving to San Francisco! We are really looking forward to it, as we’ve only heard great stories about the city.

Snowy peaks ahead!

Parting Ridgecrest was easy, after a cosy breakfast watching soccer with two other couples (I guess there were not more guests at the hotel) we left and headed for the second National Park in the USA, which also is the biggest in the lower 48 states: Yosemite National Park.
Home of two valleys where Giant Sequoia can be found, and four different habitats. Ranging from highland alpine meadows to thick pine forests; this park has them all.

We entered the park via highway 140 and the Tioga Pass. Only since June 8th is this mountain pass opened for traffic, which at over 10 thousand feet altitude is not a big surprise.

The park is huge! After driving for about 3 hours, we reached the valley, the park it’s visitor centre. After that, it took us another 40 minutes to get to the exit and yet another 20 to get to the hotel. So that is 4 straight hours driving to get from the east entrance to the south exit! The park is spectacular! Best park so far.

We particularly liked a part called High Sierra, which is flat highland almost alpine meadows and grassland. Because this is very high up the mountain there still was quite some snow up there which made for some very lovely views and equal pictures. I think we could’ve spent an extra day up there just to get to grips with the beauty of the scenery. Unfortunately we had to get a move on to go to the hotel.

We passed by the other types of land and eventually made it to a place called El Portal where the hotel Cedar Lodge was located. It is quite warm up here! Still in the 30s degrees Celsius, and the airco in the room is very much needed.
There are four dining facilities in the vicinity (that is within 30 miles distance both ways) 2 a la carte restaurants, a grill restaurant and a pizza place. We quickly figured out that today there would be grilled food on the menu and tomorrow pizza!