I've never been to Yosemite National Park. I've lived in California off-and-on throughout my life (roughly 11 years total) and I've never been to Yosemite, one of the most beautiful places in the world. I know, it is a shame!
But that changes this coming weekend.
This will be a quick trip to Yosemite National Park. I'll be staying one night in Mariposa. That gives me two days at the park, but not really. On day one I'll have to drive five hours from my home to get to Yosemite Valley, and on day two I'll have the same five hour drive home. On top of that I have plans early on the first day that won't let me get going until late morning.
I think that I've made some good plans to make the most of the time that I do have in the park. My wife used to work in Yosemite when she was younger, so she has a lot of information and experience to help with planning. I've also done some other research and found great advice on the web. I feel well prepared to maximize the experience.
We should arrive in time on the first day to catch the park in the last two hours of sunlight. My plan is to stop at Glacier Point on the way in, and then get to the valley before sunset. Two stops I hope to have time for are Cathedral Beach and Valley View, but I may find myself with only enough time for one stop. Bridalveil Falls is another potential stop if we happen arrive early. An alternative option, should we find ourselves running late and with just enough time for sunset, is to skip Glacier Point on day one and add it to the end of day two.
After sundown we'll head to Mariposa to eat and sleep.
The next morning I plan to get up early and head into the park to catch the sunrise. The first stop will be Cook's Meadow and then I'll head back to Cathedral Beach or stop at El Capitan Bridge (I haven't decided yet). Then I'll return to the hotel for breakfast and to get my family.
I want to keep most of the day two activities low-key because I have three young children. This trip is just as much for them as it is for me and my photography. On our way into the park we might stop at Fern Springs and Bridalveil Falls (if we missed it the day before). It probably will be one or the other, depending on the time. After that the plan is to spend the remainder of the morning and the entire afternoon near the visitors center, going through the museum and doing the touristy stuff. We will pack a picnic lunch.
If there happens to be water in Mirror Lake (which I doubt) we may hike there. If there happens to be water flowing down Yosemite Falls (which I doubt) we may hike to the lower falls.
Sentinal Bridge and Swinging Bridge are two potential stops in the late-afternoon or early evening. The final planned stop is Tunnel View, catching it in the evening light on our way out of the park.
It's fine if I can't get to everything. I know that I'm not really giving this trip the time that it deserves. But I wanted to make sure that I made it to Yosemite with autumn in full swing.
I plan to return in late spring, perhaps sometime in May. I've heard that Yosemite is amazing right after the winter snow melts away.