First thing, first don’t feel silly if you pronounced this place wrong! I think I have been pronouncing it YOZY-MIGHT until this year, I know when I spoke about it on stories a lot of you related, well know we know!
Ok, let’s dive in. We planned a 3 day trip to YNP (Yosemite National park) this did not include travel days coming from Los Angeles, therefore in total we gave ourselves 5 days which I think if you’re coming from LA is realistic to make sure you get to visit as much as possible of the park. We rented a car from Turo (it’s basically like the air B&B of cars). We decided to go for a Tesla (E-car) which runs solely on electricity. As a couple we are pretty aware of our effects on the environment and try to limit them as much as possible hence the car choice. The car was fantastic for going around LA and quick day trips however, you do have to take into consideration unlike a regular vehicle it takes a little more patience as charging can take anything up to 2 hours for a full 250 miles. The route from LA to Yosemite is marked out clearly with tonnes of Tesla supercharging points along the way so it’s really just a case of planning road trip breaks and having a longer journey.
A key thing to note, if you’re driving to Yosemite make sure to research any road closures as they don’t show up on google maps and they are quite frequent with flooding and forest fires throughout all seasons. We may have had a little set back on the route to YNP so take it from us – don’t end up having any extra time added on and ring ahead to the recreation centre to double check.
Finally, we arrived at YNP. No, we didn’t tough it out camping, you’ve never seen us struggle with a tent before and the fights wouldn’t have been worth it. We stayed at Rush Creek Lodge which I found on Instagram. It’s about 50 minutes from the main trail starts, camp sites and just about 5 minutes form the park entrance.
They have a sister lodge, Evergreen Lodge, 8 miles further which was so a little quieter and remote. They both have huge lounge areas with open fires, board games and open fires for making s’mores! Along with heated pools, hot tubs and a convenience store to buy snacks for hiking. Even though we stayed in Rush Creek, we ate in Evergreen most days as the food is delicious. I really recommend the ratatouille main with farro rice!
Another hotel I would recommend is Tenaya Lodge in Fish Camp on the other side south of Yosemite Valley (about the same distance from the trails as Rush Creek). We stopped there on the way home to Los Angeles for breakfast, it was a real cosy hotel with loads of food options and friendly staff. And it also had a Tesla supercharger for those thinking of renting one too!
Now to the hikes…
Since we travelled in April some routes were still not open like Half Dome and Glacier Point, however, there are still some epic hikes open at this time of year. April, I think was a great time to visit as it wasn’t too busy and for an Irish person I wasn’t boiling- it was the perfect hiking weather.
We started with Yosemite Upper Falls which is a 7.2 miles round trip. We decided to do the hardest first and it was such a good idea because everything after this seemed nice and easy. This was my favourite hike, the most challenging but most rewarding. It is a hard hike but completely doable for all levels, just make sure you take enough breaks and bring enough water. I carried 2 litres and drank it all by the top so realistically I should have brought 3-4 litres (it was also a hot day when I climbed). It took us just over 6 hours up and down and I got through my whole snack bag! During the hike you go up for about 1 hour and a half to a great view point (seen in my pics where I’m sitting on the large bolder overlooking the valley with half dome in the distance). You then go up for a little more and then start to descend but don’t worry you’ll soon be going straight back up, you just follow the path downward to a spot right beside the falls – get ready for the thundering noise and some sprays of water. After this you begin the journey back up toward the summit (I know I can’t believe you go down to go back up) this is a long series of switch backs but keep going it’s so worth it at the top and you will be distracted by the beautiful Steller jay’s flying about!
For the hike I packed 3 large rice cakes with 40g nut butter sachet, 1 banana, 1 macro bar, 1x 40g pack of seeds and 2 medjool dates. I obviously had a large breakfast pre-hike and dinner pretty soon after I came down.
I made sure I got really good hiking boots which are essential here as you are passing through large streams and loose stone paths. I wore layers as it gets really hot walking up but at the summit there is a strong cool breeze.
We took on Vernal Falls which is a 2.4 miles round trip. This route (the mist trial) is a nice easy hike for anyone who may only have a few hours in the park or a day after a long hike –it’s not too challenging on the legs. You get to hike up all alongside the waterfall which is like something out of Lord of the Rings and be prepared to get soaked – If you are worried about getting wet pack a rain coat. It was a warm day when we hiked I just wore gym gear and dried off on the summit where there is a nice little sun trap. What I would say is bring a waterproof camera case as you can get some seriously cool shoots walking up the cliff steps (which are secured with a railing). Once you reach the top it’s a nice time to sit back take it all in and watch for grey squirrels!
Make sure when you get to the top you walk a little further to the right where you will pass a small rock pool and just beyond that you have a pretty cool view of Nevada Falls. If you don’t want to get wet going up this hike take the john Muir trail (clearly marked – it’s a slip right half way up that brings you to Clarke Point with as just a good a view).
As it’s a much shorter trial so I just had 40g pack of seeds, 1 medjool date and 1 RX bar.mI got through 2 litres of water but once again the day was warm but not boiling so definitely opt for more in summer time.
I wore my gym gear and trainers; your feet do get wet but if you don’t have hiking boots with you it’s do-able in trainers. Bring a waterproof bag for your camera or any other electronics.
We did a 4-mile trail to Union Point – 6 miles round trip. Glacier Point was closed at this time of year, so we went as far as we could to Union Point. If you happen to be there when its open the view is meant to be the best, so I highly recommend doing this whole walk (there is shuttle down I hear too). On the day we went it was a pretty nippy day but that meant we pretty much had the whole trial to ourselves – hard core Irish J However, it was so eerily quiet we were so scared encase we saw a bear, we had been praying we would see one during our trip but when reality set in we couldn’t think of anything worse but we did see a coyote! The hike isn’t as hard as Yosemite but it’s a nice steady climb and your legs will feel it close to the top with a number of switch backs. The path is mostly in shade so bring some extra layers if the weather is cool. The top has the perfect view of half dome and its far quieter to get those Instagram pics.
I wore a winter jacket, leggings, hiking boots and gloves for this one. This path was half in snow the day we did it so keep in mind during summer you may not need as many layers or big boots (there is one stream you must pass).
Snack wise I brought 3 rice cakes, 3 tbsp nut butter, ½ protein (Luna bar) and 2 litres of water.
P.S. Make sure to have a pit stop at Tunnel view (picture) it’s a breath-taking view of the valley.
Some other need to knows…
- In YNP, stop off at the majestic hotel for a coffee or tea after a hike to put the feet up.
- If your camping there is a fairly large convenience store on site in Yosemite with fresh foods, snacks, water etc. to stock up.
- It is advised to being zip lock or air tight containers for food not to attract bears or insects.
- All routes are really safe so if you’re fearful of heights I wouldn’t worry (I would just avoid Half Dome) but the walks I did were completely do-able and also everything there is well mapped out you won’t be getting lost.
- Bum pack – best thing I brought was a bum bag so handy to have your phone, sunglasses, SPF, maybe a snack and lip balm in.
- Bring more water than you think you’ll need.