Visiting Yosemite wasn’t part of the original plan. Since we only had less than 2 weeks in the United States, we were thinking of going to Las Vegas after Los Angeles and then to San Francisco. But then, we fell in love with pictures of Yosemite that we finally decided to go here in lieu of Las Vegas. We’re glad that we did. Our Yosemite experience was one of the most memorable experiences we had in our lives.
We took an Uber from our friend’s house in Brentwood, Los Angeles to Union Station to take the 1am bus to Bakersfield. The Union Station building was almost deserted saved for the few midnight travelers who were mostly locals. We weren’t sure whether some of them were also heading to Yosemite. We tried to get some sleep during this three-hour journey to recharge. From Bakersfield, we took the AMTRAK to Fresno and gave us our first US train experience. It was lovely, the seats were big, it wasn’t at all dizzying, and the rising sun was a welcome scenery. With almost two hours of waiting for the bus to take us to Yosemite (YARTS), we decided to have our mini breakfast and we’re glad to have a 7-11 nearby. The bus arrived and we knew that we were almost there, finally.
Our Complete Itinerary
It was love at first sight! Before we reached Half Dome Village, our abode for the next three days, we’ve got our first glimpse of Yosemite Falls and we knew that we made the right decision of coming here. If it’s a photograph, then, it didn’t have a bad angle. Everywhere we looked, we gasped at the beauty presented in front of us.
We arrived at Half Dome Village half past 11 and we headed straight to the reception. We were registered but we couldn’t get any vacant room yet so they made us go to the lounge first to take a rest.
Half Dome village was a scenic place to stay with granite mountains around it. There was even a staircase fall just at the back of the lounge which was lovely to look at. The rangers said that Yosemite has received large amount of snow last winter so the falls would be eye-popping. It was drizzling when we arrived so we decided to take a nap after having a good slice of pizza.
The accommodation was a tent cabin and it felt like we were camping. The tents were closed to each other that you can eavesdrop with your neighbor’s conversation. All tent cabins were unheated during that time of the year even if the temperature still dropped to 10 degrees centigrade. We just grabbed some extra blankets to fight the cold. After settling in, we went out to start the tour of the amazing Yosemite.
We knew that it was a challenge to not have a car, but, we also knew that we can make it. Free shuttles where available to take us all around the village so it wasn’t hard. We started the tour by taking one of this to The Majestic Yosemite Hotel. It was formerly known as the Ahwahnee Hoel and it exemplified elegance and prestige. The lobby was exquisite and grand and the facade gave a classic vibrance. A sit on its patio while having a drink would have been perfect but we had another plan.
The Majestic Yosemite Hotel was the start of our walking valley tour that would cover almost half of the village. From Majestic we walked straight to its opposite meadow which could have been the Stoneman? From there we continued walking along tall redwoods toward the Valley Visitor Center. The Valley Visitor was like the heart of the whole village and it was where certain attractions were located. Ansel Adams Gallery, Yosemite Museum, and the Indian Cultural Exhibit were the main destinations but most of them were sadly closed by the time we arrived there.
Our walk continued until we reach the Yosemite Falls. We’ve heard the mighty sound of the falls from afar and we’ve seen some glimpsed of it. The walk to the falls was extraordinary because we have never been to any place like Yosemite before. We arrived at the foot of the Lower Yosemite Falls and it was so strong that we got a little wet. We thought that was it because we were already satisfied with what we saw but then a perfect viewing point of the falls came and we were caught by surprise.
The walk was finished at the Yosemite Lodge where we claimed our Glacier Point tour tickets for the following day.
When we reached the Half Dome the main restaurant was already closed that we were left with no choice but to have pizza for dinner again. No complaints there because it was sumptuous. It was a cold night that we could barely sleep even with our jackets on and multiple blankets covering us. It was funny because we were not prepared but we made it all through.
The day started early for the highlight of our Yosemite Tour, hiking from Glacier Point down to the valley. The starting point of the tour was at Yosemite Lodge and the pick up point was 8:15 am. There was a slight traffic that when we arrived, we were already late and our tickets were already given to another people. We were disheartened but we have got our contingency plan and we can still join the tour if we decided to. No waste of money so it was all good.
Mist Trail was our Plan B and doing it would cover almost half of the Panorama trail except for the Glacier Point. It was already 9:30 am when we started the hike up to Vernal Falls and the crowds were beginning to thicken. It wasn’t our first time to hike a mountain but it sure was the best. The scenery was astounding and like no other. The falls, the granite mountains, the rocks, and the views were all out of this world beautiful. The amazing vistas presented in front of us left us spechless. We hiked to the top of Vernal Falls and took the John Muir Trail back down to Happy Isles. It was a feeling of exhaustion and fulfillment when we finished the hike at 3pm.
Read the full account of our hike here: Mist Trail Hike
We went back to our tent for a short rest and went back to Yosemite Valley Lodge for our Valley Tour. It was our pleasure to have had joined the first Twilight Valley Tour of the season led by our enthusiastic Ranger Guide. The tour was two hours and we were drove around the valley while telling us some important details of each of Yosemite’s natural wonders. If we didn’t join the tour we wouldn’t have gone to Valley View and the Tunnel View. It wasn’t accessible by free shuttle bus, so joining the tour was the only option.
The Tunnel View was the most picturesque part of Yosemite and the most photographed. Here, you get to see the whole valley in all its glory. Bridalveil Fall, Cathedral Rocks, Sentinel Rock, Half Dome, Clouds Rest, Horsetail Fall, and El Capitan came together to give its visitors the view of a lifetime. Picture perfect.
Our love for Yosemite has grown stronger because of the Valley tour. We have seen it the way it should be seen. Our second day was a full and memorable day.
Leaving was the hardest part of all. It was sad to leave a place you’ve fell in love with. We packed our things, took a last look of the village, checked-out and had breakfast. After a hearty and full breakfast we’ve said adieu to a lovely place America was blessed to have. There was nothing like this from where I came from and I commend all the people who took care of this National Park and preserved it so that future visitors would appreciate it the way we did.
We are thrifty travelers and we found ways to save money without compromising our experience. There are cities and places that are expensive but there are always ways to travel on a budget. How much we spent in Yosemite? Here’s the breakdown:
Yosemite National Park Expenses
Amount Per Person
|Los Angeles to Yosemite||AMTRAK (bus, train, YARTS)||USD35||USD70||Public Transportation|
|Yosemite to San Francisco||AMTRAK (YARTS, train)||USD50||USD100|
|BART (Richmond to Civic Center)||USD4.65||USD9.3||Technically this should be in San Francisco Tour Expenses|
|Half Dome Village||Unheated Tent Cabin||USD148.5/night||USD297||Summer/Weekday price|
|Single NP Entry||Free||Free if taking public transportation|
|TOURS AND ACTIVITIES|
|Twilight Valley Tour||2-hour valley tour||USD35||USD70|
|Mist Trail Hike||Happy Isles to top of Vernal Falls and back||Free|
|Valley Loop Walking Tour||Majestic Hotel to Yosemite Valley Lodge||Free|
|2-days and 2 nights||total of 6 meals||USD200||USD25-USD45 per meal depending on the restaurants|
|SOUVENIRS AND OTHER MISCELLANEOUS FEES||USD75|
The total amount is for two people.
The trip in Yosemite National Park was one for the books. It surely exceeded our expectations and we would love to be back again. After all, it was sure a short visit.
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