USA - Major Attractions and Hikes of the West - A Travel Guide
Yosemite National Park
Location: 200 miles east of San Francisco
Features: mountains, waterfalls
Formed by glaciers, the Yosemite National Park provides its own unique character. U-shaped, deep valleys, bizzarely looking mountains like the Halfdome and lots of water coming from the high peaks are just a few features of the park.
One gets a first impression from the viewpoint at the end of the parkroad. A really spectacular vista: waterfalls, deep valleys and high mountain peaks as far as you can see. But even more impressive is a multi-day trip through Yosemite National Park, like we did. In 4 days we hiked from the Upper River campground to Tuolumne Meadows, 35 miles to the northeast. It's actually more advisable to do it the other way around, starting at Tuolumne Meadows. That way you'll only have a short incline at the beginning and then a continues downhill for the rest of the hike. To get back to your startingpoint you can use the bus connection from Tuolumne Meadows to Little Yosemite Village, which goes every day during the peak season.
1st day: Upper River Campground - Little Yosemite Valley ( 6 mi )
This is probably the most beautiful portion of the hike, featuring two waterfalls and the posibility to climb the Half Dome. It's a fairly steep hike until you get to the top of Vernel Falls. After you have reached the little campsite of Little Yosemite Valley you'll see the signs for Half Dome. The 8-mile roundtrip is easy except for the last climb to the top of the mountain. That part is an extremely steep climb and not for those who are afraid of heights.
Bad news: the wall you have to climb now is as steep as 70 degrees in places
Good news: you don't need any gear.
There are kind of wooden panels every two yards on the ground which give you enough grip plus you'll have a stable rope on each side to hang in and gasp for air every minute or so. There is also a whole bunch of gloves at the bottom, where I would advise to take a pair.
You can see the trail in the left picture...by the way...the small dot in the middle of it, that's me.
Anyway...30 minutes of hard work should do it to the top and you will be rewarded with an unforgetable panorama...the picture below only shows a small portion of the 360 degree view.
2nd day: Little Yosemite Valley - Merced Lake
This part of the hike is also a steady uphill and if you happen to have a 100 degree Fahrenheit air temperature, it's really a pain. After 9 miles you'll eventually get to Merced Lake, a nice, small lake with beautiful fresh water...there's only one problem: you're not allowed to take a bath in the lake. Well...at least there are no signs along Merced River, so it's no problem to refresh in the clear and cold stream...a fantastic feeling!
3rd day: Merced Lake - Booth Lake (11 mi )
After another 10 miles you'll finally reach Vogelsang, just another campsite. That is also the highest point of the hike, after that camp there is only on direction: downhill! The campsite at Vogelsang is actually not really attractive, a much better place to camp is the closeby Booth Lake, a peaceful piece of nature.
4th day: Booth Lake - Tuolumne Meadows (7 mi )
Two or three hours later you'll be at Tuolumne Meadows, a bus station with a small store and gas station (as far as I remember). A good place to write postcards and wait for the bus, which will take you back to Yosemite Village in only 45 minutes.
Arches National Park / Bryce Canyon National Park / Canyonlands National Park / Capitol Reef National Park / Crater Lake National Park / Death Valley National Monument / Grand Canyon National Park / Lassen Volcanic National Park / Las Vegas / Lava Beds National Monument / Mesa Verde National Park / Monument Valley / Mount Rainier National Park / Olympic National Park / Petrified Forest National Park / Point Lobos State Park / San Francisco / Salt Lake City / Seattle / Sequoia National Park / Valley of Fire State Park / Yellowstone National Park / Yosemite National Park / Zion National Park