Travel Blog – Yosemite National Park – California/U.S.A.
Yosemite National Park was our second stop on the itinerary and a whole day’s drive away from San Francisco where we started. This was only our second day in the U.S. and everything was still new and exciting! We stopped at In n’ Out burger (a popular burger fast food chain in California) for lunch, only to stock up on healthy mueslis and fresh food at Trader Joe’s afterwards. I think we wanted the full American cultural experience while maintaining some kind of health. Well, we tried… we tried…
After stocking up on food we went to REI to buy camping equipment and off we went! Kind of. Nobody warned us about the weekend traffic in the bay area. It didn’t matter though, because everything was new and exciting – did I mention that? Side mirrors the size of cars, cars the size of trucks, trucks the sizes of houses and 5-laned highways, ever intertwining. Finally, the landscape turned more rural. Immediately I fell in love with the soft hills and hazy Californian warmth.
Up up the hill we went – until the hills became mountains and the shrubbery turned into pine trees.
We arrived at our campsite just before sunset – just in time to unpack the goods we got from Trader Joe’s wholefoods that morning and enjoy the rest of the evening.
The next morning we got up before sunrise, eager to set out on a long hike around the famous Half Dome. Half Dome is probably the most iconic mountain in the U.S and honestly? THIS view deserves all the hype. Overviewing Yosemite National Park must be one of the prettiest mountainous sights I have ever come across and I grew up near the alps.
Look at all these waterfalls! It’s almost like walking through an enchanted paradise. All that was missing were some bear cubs splashing in the water and cuddling with squirrels. (So many squirrels…)
The hike we did that day is called the “Panorama trail”. It starts from the look-out from where most of the Half Dome photos above are taken and it leads back into the valley from there. It took us about 5.5 hours, but we took some breaks. Towards the end, the Panorama trail crosses the “mist walk” which leads from the valley up the mountain along some waterfalls with mist spray everywhere. With a bit of stamina left, this is a great way to finish up the long hike as the waterfall views are really worth it.
However, at the end of the day, as beautiful as Yosemite National Park is, I just cannot recommend it wholeheartedly. Why? It is – unfortunately – too popular among travelers. The park seems to have more visitors on a sunny day than the Munich Oktoberfest on a whole weekend. It’s so busy nobody can hope to gain some kind of “nature experience”. In reality it is impossible to connect with nature and have that “getaway from the city” experience.
The best view over the park is from the lookout where busloads of tourists are dropped off every ten minutes. Call me old-fashioned, but for me, a good view is enjoyed so much more after a long hike up a mountain. For a little showing off on Instagram there is no need to put on any active wear and if that’s exactly your thing then that’s great! Seriously, I am not judging. On the other hand, if you’re dreaming of going to Yosemite one day to enjoy the outdoors and nature you’ll be nothing but disappointed.
Ultimately, I will never forget Yosemite’s breathtaking views. The outdoor experience however didn’t live up to my expectations and I felt overall disappointed.
Nevertheless, here are some of the prettiest moments on the way into Yosemite Valley: