Overwhelming Beauty of Yosemite National Park

'It is by far the grandest of all the special temples of Nature I was ever permitted to enter', John Muir once said about Yosemite ...

'It is by far the grandest of all the special temples of Nature I was ever permitted to enter', John Muir once said about Yosemite National Park. And I could not agree more - its sheer beauty overwhelms you throughout your visit.

Yosemite National Park sits in the middle of the Sierra Nevada mountains between the Central Valley of California to the west and Great Basin desert to the east. The Sierra Nevada is a part of the American Condillera, a mountain range that forms the backbone of North America, Central America, South America and Antarctica.

There are a couple of ways to get to Yosemite National Park, but most likely you'll drive from the west or south. But no matter which one you take I can guarantee you'll have amazing views along the way. 
If you drive from the Pacific Coast which is what most people do, your route will lie within Stanislaus National Forest, a big area adjacent to Yosemite National Park with a little bit more relaxed regulations and, as a result, more recreational options compared to most of the national parks in the US. 
Forest fires are frequent on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada due to seasonal draughts. 
Upon entering the park via the Big Oak Flat Entrance, the roads climbs up and then descents to the Yosemite Valley.
A number of lookout points with pull-outs are available for visitors. The first glimpse of the Yosemite Valley.
Bridalveil Fall Trail greets you as you enter the valley.
The park roads gradually descents to the Merced River and follows it toward the Yosemite Village.
Dogwood is the spring tree flower in Yosemite.
Like any other waterfall in Yosemite National Park, Bridalveil Fall is the most powerful and beautiful in the spring. 
A small and easy hiking trail takes you to its base. 
The fall is 620 ft (189 m) high and it flows year-around.
The fall's spray was so strong, so I almost got wet when I reached the end of the trail.
One of the most famous peaks in the park - El Capitan. Adventurous rock climbers from all over the world climb its nose. It can take a few days though, so climbers sleep in a handing bed.
As you drive further toward the Yosemite Village, you don't want to miss the view of the Yosemite Falls across the valley.
I felt too small surrounded by those giant granite walls.
The Merced River only pretends to be calm. Indeed, it showed its mighty power on numerous occasions in the past.
A deer family take a break under the shadow of big trees.
There is plenty of wildlife in the park - from small squirrel-beggars to big black bears. The latter especially like wandering on campgrounds looking for food. Unlike black bears that live in the Eastern Canada and the US, Yosemite black bears can easily tear a car door down should they smell food in the car. So storing food in bear-proof metal boxes is mandatory for all campers in Yosemite National Park.
Another short and easy trail takes you to the base of the Yosemite Falls. 
Yosemite Falls is the highest in the park with the total height of 2,425 ft (739 m). It consists of three drops - the Upper Yosemite Fall (1,430 ft / 436 m), the middle cascade (675 ft / 206 m) and the Lower Yosemite Fall (320 ft / 97 m).
However it usually dries out by mid-July.
Yosemite Village offers a number of services to visitors such as hotels and lodges, restaurants, a museum, a post office, a church, a theatre, etc. I even saw a cemetery, so there must be people living there.
Similarly to other famous national parks in the US such as Grand Canyon and Yellowstone, Yosemite National Park was run as a disneyland for almost a century until a new generation of conservation-minded leaders ruled the National Park Service in 1970-1980s. However, even now you can ride a vintage car or a horse as people did in the old days of Wild Wild West.
What I especially liked though is the free shuttle bus which connects all major attractions in the Yosemite Valley. It came in handy as parking is limited in the park, and some trailheads are only accessible by foot or by bus.
One of those trails is the Mirror Lake. Its first mile to the lake and back is paved, however there is a real trail which runs in parallel.
Mirror Lake dries out by mid-summer, so May is the best month to see the granite domes' reflections in the water.
Park's most unusual formations - granite domes - had challenged geologies for almost a century.  They now think that granite cliffs were created as a result of volcanic eruptions. That happened deep underground (over 5 miles / 8 km) where granite later cooled off. 
Over time, overlying rocks disappeared due to erosion exposing the granite domes. 
I highly recommend you drive up the Glacier Point Road later in the day as it takes you above the Yosemite Valley and offers unparalleled views.
As you climb up in your car, there is a lookout like no other - Tunnel View. Macbook users know it well from the background picture.
Glacier Point Road is usually open from May to November-December. You can see how the climate changes as you gain elevation. While it's green and hot in the valley, there is still snow lying on the ground above the valley. So make sure you bring some extra cloth to keep you warm.
Drive up the the Glacier Point takes about an hour.
Not only can you see the Yosemite Valley, but also some other high peaks in the Sierra Nevada.
Views of the Vernal and Nevada Falls. There will be a separate article about them.
View of Half Dome.
Half Dome Trail is one of the most strenuous day hikes in the park. It's 14 to 16 miles (22-26 km) round trip. The last 400 ft (122 m) of the trail up to the summit can be done using two metal cables. 
Views of North Dome.
Views of the Yosemite valley and the Falls.

My other posts from the Trip to California:

Kings Canyon - One of the Deepest Canyons in North America

The Hottest Place on Earth. But Is It Really Dead?

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