Wow. There are really no words or pictures that can show how beautiful Yosemite really is. This has been on my bucket list for a while and it definitely lives up to all of the hype. It is so nice to have a change of pace and be off the grid for a weekend. If you have never been to Yosemite I highly suggest you add it to your bucket list. I think we went at the perfect time because the weather was awesome and it wasn’t very crowded! If you go during peak season, expect the popular hikes and trailheads to be extremely crowded and flooded with tourists.
First thing you need to do when planning your Yosemite trip is to decide where to stay. There are a lot of options between hotels, lodges and campsites. We stayed in one of the heated canvas tents in Half Dome Village. The tents were so cozy and the beds were pretty comfortable. The tents are very simple but it is the perfect balance in between full on camping and staying in a hotel. It was nice that we were still able to get the camping experience without having to bring all of the camping supplies and set it up. It is community bathrooms and showers but they were kept pretty clean. The campground has such a summer camp feel too it and I loved it. One thing we loved about Half Dome Village was all of the food options that were available. In the mornings they have coffee and buffet style breakfast available in the Pavilion. The Pavilion also serves dinner along with the Pizza Deck and the Meadow Grill. There is also a full service bar where you can get beer, wine, cocktails and frozen drinks! Another really great thing that gives Half Dome Village such an advantage is the location. It is very central and most of the best hikes are within walking distance. They also have free shuttle service that drops off at trailheads throughout the park. Overall our stay at Half Dome Village was great and if I ever go back I will definitely be staying here again.
The first day we were there we hiked the Mist Trail which leads you to Vernal Falls. From there you can continue on up to Nevada Falls if you are willing to make a 9 mile round trip hike. We walked from Half Dome Village to the trailhead and hiked all the way to Nevada falls and it ended up being about 10 and half miles roundtrip. If you catch the shuttle to the trailhead it will only be about 9 miles. I honestly did not think my body was capable of hiking 10 miles but it was seriously worth it. The views at the top are amazing and it is such a beautiful hike that you almost forget how much work it took to get there once you reach the top. The hike to the top of Nevada falls is no joke though. It is very steep and there is about a mile and a half of straight stairs. I am by no means in amazing shape so don’t think you have to be an experienced hiker to do it! There are plenty of places to stop, sit and enjoy amazing views along the way. We took our time and fully embraced all that Yosemite had to offer along the way. We started at 10 and didn’t get back to camp until 5. It is definitely an all day outing so make sure you pack everything you need for the day. We carried backpacks with our lunches, lots of water and snacks that we could eat throughout the day. I would also suggest wearing actual hiking boots rather than just regular tennis shoes. When falls are flowing at their full capacity you actually get wet from the mist of the falls.. Hence the “Mist Trail.” The stairs can get really slippery so it is helpful to have shoes with some grip!
The second day we were pretty exhausted from our 10 mile excursion the day before so we decided to take it easy and explore a different part of Yosemite. We drove an hour through the park to get to Tenaya Lake. The lake was beautiful and definitely worth the hour drive to get there. There is a beach that surrounds the lake which is perfect for having a picnic or just sitting and enjoying the view. You can also walk the 2.5 mile loop that goes around the lake if you want a short and easy hike. Near Tenaya Lake there are several other trailheads and hikes that are easy to access. One short hike with an amazing overlook is Olmsted Point. You will see it on your way to Tenaya Lake and it is the perfect spot to pull off and snag a few pictures or just sit and enjoy the view. It is only about a quarter of a mile to get to the overlook and you get to see amazing views of Clouds Rest and Half Dome. This area was perfect after a full day of intense hiking because there were a lot of opportunities for amazing scenery that required minimal effort.
The last day before we left we had to hike back up the Mist Trail to Vernal Falls so I could jump off the cliff into the base of the waterfall. On the first day we saw several people doing it and I knew I couldn’t leave without doing it. This is really the only time of the year that you are able to cliff jump at Vernal Falls so you have to take advantage. In the spring when the waterfalls are flowing at their full capacity it is too dangerous. Let me just start by saying if you are going to jump prepare yourself for how cold the water is. I was expecting it to be freezing and it was actually 10 times colder than that. It is so worth it though. Ending an amazing 2 days in Yosemite by jumping off a cliff into the base of Vernal Falls was so awesome.
This trip has definitely inspired me to want to get outdoors more and experience all of the natural beauty that this world has to offer. I hope this post inspires you to want to do the same. Thanks for reading, now getting to planning!!