Yosemite — The Great Outdoors
DELSEY PARIS and THE UNSEASONAL have teamed
up to take a fresh look at travel destinations that go beyond expectations.
Yosemite National Park is a vast wilderness area full of deep valleys, lush green meadows, wild streams, giant sequoia groves, spectacular granite cliffs, and ancient glaciers. Located in the central Sierra Nevada Mountain range of California, the park measures nearly 1,200 square miles/3,000 km2 and is far more than a travel destination. It is a place of beauty, purity,and unity with nature. You could easily spend weeks in this natural wonderland, but our three-day itinerary covers the highlights that we believeshouldn’t be missed.
Day 1: Yosemite Valley
After a stop at the Visitor Center, head into Yosemite Valley. The 145-mile-long Merced River had carved out the glacial valley and its spectacular natural scenery. Tunnel View offers aweinspiring views of the valley with Half Dome, the waterfall Bridalveil Fall, and El Capitan — arguably the world’s most famous rock. The 3,000-foot vertical wall formation was long considered impossible to climb but two brothers, Thomas and Alexander Huber, set out to even break the record in speed climbing the cliff in 2007. The documentary film To The Limit follows the two charismatic climbers on their spectacular way up. In the stunning 2008 National Geographic documentary film Free Solo, the climber Alex Honnold pursues his lifelong dream of climbing the face of El Capitan without a rope or any other safety equipment. The intimate portrait of the climber is more than an edge-of-your-seat thriller, it’s an inspiring story of human achievement.
At 2,424 feet, Yosemite Falls is the highest waterfall in North America and the sixth largest in the world. It is another major attraction in the park that is best viewed after snowmelt in late spring.
In summer, it all dries up, but the hike is still beautiful and one of Yosemite’s oldest trails. On the 7.2-mile roundtrip, you’ll find yourself walking in the footsteps of some of America’s great preservationists and feel their enthusiasm and awe at the dignity of the surrounding nature.
Our recommended stay for the night is The Ahwahnee. It is the crown jewel of the national park lodges in Yosemite National Park and was the destination of queens and presidents, such as John F. Kennedy, Queen Ratana of Nepal, and—most famously—Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip in 1983. The Ahwahnee blends a perfect balance of history, hospitality, and elegance. Yosemite Village is close to the hotel where you’ll find stores, restaurants, the beautiful Swinging Bridge Picnic Area, and the New England-style Yosemite Valley Chapel, which is the oldest structure used for public purposes in the park.
Day 2: Spectacular Views
The viewpoint, known as Glacier Point, is located at an elevation of 7,214 feet and can be reached by car or bus in the summer. Located on the south wall of Yosemite Valley, the overlook offers breathtaking vistas of Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, Vernal Falls, and Nevada Falls. The beauty of the world is nowhere more tangible. The spectacular Sierra Nevada country, with Half Dome rising more than 4,737 feet into the vast skies of the valley, is the epitome of grace and divine creation. Ambitious hikers need a permit to ascend the soaring granite walls of Half Dome with the use of cables. The round-trip takes most people between 10 and 12 hours. A far more comfortable hike takes you on Mist Trail at Curry Village to two waterfalls, Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls. Finish the hike with lunch at Pizza Deck where hand-tossed pizzas are served on a beautiful outdoor deck.
The afternoon is best spent at Mariposa Grove where visitors look up at one of the largest and oldest living things on Earth. In the face of the giant sequoias, which are more than 3,000 years old, the visitor feels small and insignificant: a healing experience and a good lesson on respectful coexistence in this world. At Tuolumne Grove, northwest of Yosemite Valley, a 2.5-mile hike leads visitors among the most massive trees in California. You can even walk through one of them, known as Tunnel tree.
The perfect place to spend the night after a visit to Mariposa Grove is The Wawona Hotel. The Victorian-era hotel is one of California’s oldest mountain resorts and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987. The hotel’s deep verandas, which wrap around the first and second floors, allow breathtaking views of the natural wonderland it’s nestled in. The rooms are beautifully furnished with antiques and vintage elements.
Day 3: High Mountain Air
The most scenic drive in Yosemite National Park is along Tioga Road, a seasonally open, highelevation pass. The 47-mile drive from Crane Flat to Tioga Pass, through forests and past snow-covered peaks, is typically open from late May to early June through sometime in November. In wintertime, the pass closes due to heavy snow. On the way, you’ll pass by Tuolumne Meadows, a subalpine section of Yosemite graced by the Tuolumne River and surrounded by towering granite domes. Our favorite hike follows a historic trail which, at first, climbs gently from the Mono Pass parking area, through wet meadows, and past rushing creeks. The trail gets steeper but rewards hikers with unparalleled views of Mono Lake after reaching Mono Pass at an elevation of 10,600 feet. The adventurous traveler can take a swim in the ice-cold Tuolumne River or dip into the Dog, Tenaya, or May Lakes. Wildlife can be spotted frequently in the tranquility of the vast meadows.
For lodging, we recommend White Wolf Lodge which offers beautiful white canvastent cabins and traditional wood cabins next to a classic campground. At an elevation of 8,000 feet, the Lodge is far away from the bustle of the Valley. The clear high-country air and absolute peace will have a rejuvenating and relaxing effect that will allow you to feel in harmony with nature.
Images: Ger Ger Words: Tina Ger
The Unseasonal is a purpose-driven special projects magazine and alternative take on the world – a magazine about passion, travel, beauty, the change in seasons, the unusual, and the human condition. It features timeless pictorials, thoughtful stories, and unique collaborations. The Unseasonal embodies the feeling of a getaway, of slowing down, of exotic places, optimism, breathtaking dreams, unique architecture, and a lightness of being, traced with elements
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