Yosemite National Park and Tuolumne Meadows
Yosemite National Park covers an area of nearly 1,200 square miles across the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The park is well known for its dominant granite walls, including the awe inspiring El Capitan. The view of this massive 3000 foot vertical rock giant will take your breath away every time, no matter how many times you've seen it before. El Capitan is the mecca of rock climbing and you will encounter many climbers in the valley throughout the entire season. Besides the sheer elegance and magnificence of these granite walls, the waterfalls that cascade over their massive cliffs are some of the most spectacular in the world. Leaping over their rock precipices and thundering down in curtains and comets of billowing spray, they leave you wondering about your own significance on the planet. You can view the falls at their peak during the months of April, May, June when the melting snow swells the falls into massive rivers of frigid water.
Over 3.7 million people come to Yosemite every year to hike on some of the more than 800 hiking trails available. One can find trails of every difficulty and length varying from a half-mile stroll along the river to weeks-long back country expeditions. With 95% of it being designated wilderness, the options are limitless.
If your time is limited, one way of making the most out of your visit is to take the scenic Tioga Road Drive. This road is 39 miles long and takes you through some of the most breathtaking scenery in the park, past alpine lakes, granite domes, and serene meadows. Topping out at 9,945ft., Tioga Road is the highest road accessible by a car in California.
One of the perks of this drive is the largest sub-alpine meadow in the Sierra Nevada, Tuolumne Meadows. The Tuolumne River winds through the lush meadow and the surrounding majestic domes give the whole place a serenity that is magical. During the spring/early summer, this place turns into a vibrantly colored carpet as the whole meadow is filled with thousands of blooming wildflowers. If you have a choice, try to come here in the blooming season as it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. However, this whole area is spectacular in any time of the year and I always prefer to come here rather than visit the tourist-crowded Yosemite Valley. Also, be aware of wildlife as wild animals are a fairly common occurrence in this area. I will never forget seeing a bear cub crossing a road on our 5 am. drive to the base of a climb. He was just so cute! ...from the safety of the car that is. :-)
Just keep in mind that the road typically doesn't open until late spring due to accumulated snow, which could be as late as early June after a heavy snow season.View photos of Yosemite and Tuolumne Meadow.
For additional info about Yosemite National Park visit the recommended sites below:
National Park Service
General Yosemite Park Info