Yosemite National Park in California was high on our must-see list. Both Ryan and I have visited before, and our two oldest spent a few days here years ago to celebrate Ryan’s grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversary, but they were too young to remember.
Yosemite is breathtaking. Ryan calls it his happy place. It is steeped in history and could be considered the birthplace of the National Parks idea. Everywhere you look, there is something to capture you: the largest rock formations in the world, multiple waterfalls, the wildlife, the beautiful valley.
We stayed in a KOA campground in Mariposa, about an hours drive from Yosemite Valley. There are campsites in the park, but they fill up quickly (most were already booked when we started looking back in January) and they do not have full hook-ups. We had two full days to spend in Yosemite and we took full advantage of both.
We began our visit to Yosemite with a long, but very worthwhile drive up to Glacier Point.
On the way up, there was a small lineup of cars pulled to the side of the road and Audrey looked out the window and spotted a black bear! That was thrilling.
Once we made it up to Glacier Point, you just feel like you are in a mountain forest. You park and walk along the paved path until you reach this:
A very high up lookout that opens up to this magnificent view:
You look straight down over the Yosemite Valley, with Yosemite Falls (the tallest waterfall in North America) on the left, and Half Dome, the iconic 5,000 foot rock to the right.
This was the perfect place to introduce the kids to the area, with maps and a great top-down view.
We brought along a picnic lunch and sat on the rocks taking in the most glorious view.
After a few hours up at Glacier Point, we hopped back in the car to head down to the valley. On our drive down, Ryan spotted another black bear! I grabbed my phone and recorded a video and apparently I was so excited that I forgot to actually press record. Oops. But it was so cool to actually see a bear in the wild.
We pulled over at Bridal Veil Fall trailhead for a quick walk to look at the waterfall. Um … we did not know we would get soaked in the mist! I’m so glad Ryan had the go-pro out and captured the whole thing (see it here. It makes me smile every time).
The drive through the valley is simply spectacular. You come upon El Capitan – a towering, granite monolith that entices rock climbers to climb the face! Straight up! It’s insane.
We spent the rest of our afternoon at the visitors center where there is a surprisingly wonderful museum/info area with history of the area, the people, the geology. We left the park just before dark.
Yosemite is known for its amazing hiking and so we wanted to try to get at least one good hike in.
We opted for the Mist Trail which takes you up to another spectacular waterfall called Vernal Fall.
The trail has a bit of an incline, but it’s just under a mile each way and was perfect for our family.
At the top of the trail you reach a bridge that crosses the river with a view of the waterfall. We stopped for a photo and to have a picnic lunch. We sort of thought it was the end of the route.
Then Ryan had the brilliant idea to see if the trail kept going and it did, so we followed. It’s steep. With a dropoff stright down the rock face into the freezing river. The stone path was uneven and wet. But he pushed us on.
At one point, I was thinking I would stay back with Audrey. I kept seeing hikers pass us on their way down with soaking wet hair and I thought “I did that yesterday. I think I’m good.”
But Ryan persisted and gave me his coat and on we went.
You guys. Have you ever had those moments where you want to quit or stay back for whatever reason (mine was less about fear or feeling tired and more about just not wanting to become a drowned rat), but then you go for it anyway and it was totally worth it? That was exactly what happened. The waterfall was so big, so loud, so cool to see up close.
We did get wet, but it was not bad and it was absolutely worth it. I thanked Ryan a million times for not letting me miss it.
Once we made it back down, we ventured on to the historic Ahwahnee Hotel (also called The Majestic Yosemite Hotel) where we celebrated Mook + Pop’s anniversary a few years before.
The hotel was built in 1926 with these massive logs and big paned windows and woven rugs and tapestries. It’s so grand.
On our way out of the park, we stopped off at Yosemite Falls to take the quick walk out to the viewing bridge at the base of the falls.
The water was crashing down and again, the mist was for real at the base. We talked to friends a few days later who said they were in Yosemite a year ago and the falls was nearly dry. We just happened to hit the park at just the right time of spring to experience massive waterflow in all of the falls we visited.
Yosemite was spectacular. Two days was quick, but probably perfect for our family at this point. Ryan and the boys would love to go back and do more hiking; I could stare at the waterfalls all day long (and sit in those buttery-soft leather chairs at the hotel).
With each destination, we stand more and more in awe of God’s creativity. What a gorgeous world He gave us to explore and admire.
Wow! I’m just catching up on the posts about your trip, how fun! I have to ask, are those Athleta shorts? They look really comfortable, especially to wear hiking…
They are! And, yes. Very comfortable.
I think that traveling is the most amazing thing in the world!!It is sure that this trip will be unforgettable for you,for your children and for us!!Have good time and continue to “travel” us too,via your photos!!
Yosemite is my home but currently live elsewhere. Loved this post and am now longing to go back home.
Yosemite is my happy place too. Truly. I camped there as a child with my family, and visited later with my husband and inlaws.
Summer is fantastic and glorious, but winter? Winter is sublime. My little family of three has been there in winter four times in 5 years and it feeds the soul like nothing else. Last time we stayed at a cottage at the Ahwahnee (before the name changed) and sitting by that fire in the winter with someone playing the grand piano while the fire crackles is…majestic. ;)
Sadly, the road to Glacier Point is closed in winter so we’ve never been up there! I must plan a summer trip to see it. :)
I’m so glad you got to visit that glorious place and share it with your kids.
Greetings from South Africa! Wow I enjoy every story and photo would love to paint some of them, (ha-ha I am not that good!) I do agree with everything Susan C mentioned above! Look forward to more updates.
Yosemite is my most favorite of all national parks… and we have been to many! This should be on everyone’s bucket list. Yes, breathtaking, describes it well!
So beautiful! I love Yosemite and these pictures of Half Dome bring back good memories. I hiked it several times as a teenager (15 years ago!) and would love to take our five kiddos there. You must be making so many memories of your own. Thanks for sharing!
all your coordinating outfits are going to give you lots of christmas card pictures to choose from this year!! looks like you guys are having so much fun. so thrilled for you!
Are those photos captured with your phone or a camera? They are just beautiful!
It is a mix. We brought along both of our good cameras and have only been bringing along one (our newest dslr) and filling in with my iphone and Ryan’s samsung. We’re surprised at how great our phones are working!
Looks, amazing! When you come to Nashville, you need to visit Cheekwood. They have an amazing exhibit of playhouses going all summer. Your kids would love it!
i really hope your kids realize how awesome it is what you’re doing for them. i’ve been cross country three times and it’s been the best experience of my life but i didn’t do it until i was 22! i’m so jealous of all the time your family gets to spend exploring and enjoying the earth!
Love reading of your adventures. Your family will never forget! Enjoy it all. At least you are young enough to do all that you are. Blessings and I look forward to what you write next.
Yosemite is one of the most beautiful, breathtaking places in the world! I’m so glad you stopped there again, I’d go back in a minute! I’m following your adventures and am looking forward to what’s next…….
Yosemite is gorgeous. I love it there. Unfortunately I have a great fear of heights that I can’t seem to push through, so didn’t get up to Glacier Point. I was telling my husband about your family trip and since we’re retired we are seriously thinking about taking such a trip ourselves! Have fun!!
Dear Emily and family,
Thank you so much for sharing your experiences; how wonderful. I actually live in Australia, am a botanical artist and see God in every small and big thing, not hard to do actually but am amazed at how easily overlooked that can be. Your last line, ‘With each destination, we stand more and more in awe of God’s creativity. What a gorgeous world He gave us to explore and admire.’ Is perfect.
Thank you again all of you for sharing your trip with us. It’s exciting:)
Australia is a big must-see on my list! Hopefully we will make it to your country someday!
It certainly is and honestly you would love it. Your blog write ups are so fun and beautifully photographed that I think your family trip (someday) would do our country justice.
Lots of Aussies get into the caravan and go tripping around the country and it would be wonderful to share in that adventure, I know you and your family would share your adventure:) I shall now go and enjoy your Grand Canyon trip.
Have a great day with kindest regards,
I am loving follow along both here and on your IG accounts! What wonderful memories you are making for yourselves and your children! Happy Trails!!
I love the photo of your kiddos braced against the slabs of rock. It would make a great framed poster!
O, I am so enjoying traveling with you and your family! This post reminds me of all my trips through Yellowstone and Colorado. Hiking with my big dog and just listening and listening to the water. It helped to heal so much that had been wounded and scarred.
Those ventures were times to talk and listen to God, to be so grateful for this beautiful land and the privilege of living here. Of seeing bears, buffalo, elk, pronghorn, eagles, chipmunks on my knee, and stunning views that took my breath away. It changed my life.
Your family will never forget this time. And good for you for letting yourself expand your former bounds. Keep pushing yourself and each other, to new heights.
My husband and I were there for the first time last week as well and hiked the Mist Trail!! It was a cold, wet day though, and it really made the hike difficult. God’s love truly overwhelmed me when I was there. I thought to myself, “Yosemite is breathtakingly beautiful, yet He calls us His masterpiece.” It’s amazing! Enjoy your travels.
This is so wonderful! What amazing mountains! What an amazing hotel! Thank you for sharing this adventure! I know I “exclaimed” a lot with those sentences, but I am loving that you get to do this trip with your children:)
Adding Yosemite to my bucket list!
Beautiful!!!! We hiked the mist trail a few years ago with 2 year olds in backpacks…that was fun! And, I totally feel your pain on wanting to quit…I felt the same way when we hiked to the top of Yosemite falls….completely worth it!
You were so close to me!! Mariposa is a delightful little town ?
Your living my dream!! and in an Airstream! Did you guys buy that or rent it? more pics please:) Just recvd your dish towels today… love!
Pictures are coming – along with the story of how we decided on our trailer :)
What a neat trip. Would love to do what you are doing and with your children!
Look forward to your posts!
I will also be there in 1,5 weeks and your story and the pics inspire me – I think we will hike the same way!
Yosemite NP is our family’s happy place! We camped in North Pines Camground (near the horse stable) every summer (from birth until they were in college)… Vernal Falls hikes in the heat of summer were a way to cool off…
When the girls were older (9 & 11 years old), we hiked the strenuous Half Dome trail & stood on top of the huge rock, carefully peering over the valley below. We’d start @5am from our tent in North Pines Campground, eating snacks & taking breaks along the way… Hiking down was almost more difficult because your legs were tired & wobbly from the ascent. In general, we’d be back in camp by 5pm, and reward ourselves by a chilling swim in the river. Of course, dinner was epic with all the discussion of things we saw & the exhilaration of making the round-trip hike in a single day.
Your boys would love it! Actually, I loved it, making my last hike to Half Dome in my 50’s. The top is larger than a football field. Shocking, huh?
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to get campsites in the Valley, even for seasoned Yosemite lovers! our tent camping adventures have expanded to other beautiful places in California. I was glad to read of your adventures… Oh, btw, my daughter who still lives in California & visits her “happy place” at least once a year, said to tell your kids… Yosemite is even better than a trip to Disneyland!
I love your photos, this adventure you invite us into as you journey. Thank you. We live neat SF, and you have me made so excited to head to Yosemite this summer! Yes, such beauty God has created!
amazing! Thank you for sharing your adventure!
The whole time I was looking at the pictures and reading your description, all I could think about was our Creator and what a spectacular (even that word doesn’t do it justice) world He created…just stunning! I am SO enjoying the blog with all the road trip updates! Your family is just beautiful and I’m excited for you all – you will have livelong memories for sure! Look forward to more updates!
breathtaking! and that hotel!
I knew you would like the hotel :)