Mileage Driven: 231 miles (exploring Oakhurst as well for 2 days)
Points of Interest: Oakhurst Air B&B; Glacier Point, Yosemite National Park, California
So life is such a beautiful gift, yes? One thing I love about long summer road trips is that if you don’t care for a certain place where you are or have been, don’t fret as it will be time to move on shortly…or maybe it isn’t that you didn’t like it but instead you are just ready for a change of scenery! I blame my passion for wandering on being a military brat, never living in the same place longer than a year or so when I was a child and so I LOVE exploring. So, today is an exciting day as we say goodbye to one adventure and head to share another one with the boys.
This section of the trip is exceptionally special to me as we are heading to Yosemite National Park. Most folks that know me know that I had a blast thru-hiking the John Muir Trail in 2016 and that hike changed my life. So…the fact that I get to take the boys to see some of the spots I hiked thru like the valley, Tuolumne Meadows, etc. thrills me beyond no end. I really wish they would have wanted to backpack because then I could totally have shown them some of the places I saw like Donahue Pass.
But, this post won’t be long because we took 2 days once we got to Oakhurst on July 10th to rest! We slept in finally, did laundry and explored the cute town of Oakhurst…we even went to the movies but overall just rested before this next leg of our trip. This driver is getting a little weary and needs to not drive for 10 hours day after day for a few days. 🙂
Well, since we were only 3 hours to our Air B&B outside of the South Entrance of Yosemite, I decided to take the boys for another hour drive to show them Glacier Point, one of the most beautiful places in Yosemite…you can see some of the most iconic landmarks from this spot…plus this is where the famous picture of John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt was taken with the rock jetting out over the valley still in tact! 🙂
So, we checked into our home base Air B&B home for the next 8 nights, rested for 2 days and then headed back out on the road in the late afternoon of July 12th. The park and mountains were so close that I could smell them…my skin tingled with excitement just knowing I was going back to the place that changed my life and my spirit in 2016. What is cooler? Getting to share this place with my sons!
Surprisingly, when we made the drive to the park gates, there were only 2 cars ahead of us and I knew this was because it was around 5pm and many people were already in the valley or heading out by now. Either way, it was nice to be able to just really pull right into the park without a long wait.
We are here! We are here! We are here!!!! Here is a map of the YV with the numbered bus stops that you will need to know about as parking is almost impossible in the valley, so if you are able to actually find a spot to park, you will want to use the shuttle system to get around for sure. You can find a detailed map of the whole park here: https://www.nps.gov/carto/hfc/carto/media/YOSEmap1.pdf
This is always a a great when the digital sign says that Mariposa Grove is open. We aren’t going there today, but this is a must stop on this trip. I will do a post with the Mariposa information soon as we came back to do that area later in the week.
Make sure you stop and check out the Wawona Hotel and the Pioneer Yosemite History Center once you enter the park…you will have been driving for a little while and you will probably want to stretch your legs anyways. Once I have my complete John Muir Trail Thru Hike Blog finished, I will link it here because I stayed at the Wawona Hotel for 3 nights after I finished my thru hike in 2016 to rest and recuperate before I flew home. I have great pictures of the historic hotel and it would be worth linking so stay tuned.
One of the many things that is cool about the Pioneer Town, is this cool bridge! You can take a carriage ride here, have conversations with time period actors throughout the area and witness the actions of a blacksmith, a ranger patrol cabin, Wells Fargo office, the jail and much more. It is free and definitely worth the stop. There are also toilets there for public use but bring hand sanitizer as you would for all park bathrooms.
Here is a great park brochure for the village that explains all that you will see: https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/upload/pyhc.pdf
I started tearing up at this sight…I closed my eyes and immediately was taken back to every night on the trail where my tent was set up within ear shot of a river, creek or body of rushing water…I miss that so much that my heart aches for the Sierra backcountry again. So glad to be here with the boys though. 🙂
It was time to head on as we still had about 45 minutes to drive to get to Glacier Point. Just as a reference, Oakhurst is about 1.5 hours from the Valley and almost that far away from Glacier Point…I know I said I didn’t want to drive for a while, but I couldn’t be this close to this and not go the same day.
Amazingly enough, we found a parking spot at Glacier Point. In case you didn’t know, GP is one of the most famous places to be for sunset pictures in the park so as the afternoon was getting later, I wasn’t sure how busy it would be but it wasn’t busy at all!
As we left the parking lot, you will pass more bathrooms so use them before you continue on. As we walked towards Glacier Point, we came around a corner on the short trail and saw this view….I was immediately taken back to the day I summited Whitney, was picked up by my amazing trail angels and brought back to Yosemite at the end of it all and they showed me Glacier Point. I was exhausted that day of course so I was so glad to come back today and see it with fresh eyes as I remember it being stunning, this this was even more stunning than I remember!
As you keep walking, you will begin to see magic…true magic of beauty and glory! Do you see what is popping into view now? 🙂 We are soo close!!!
Just a quick side note, we will be driving back up here next week for sunset pictures, so get ready to be blown away by those even though cameras don’t do it all justice for sure. Check back soon and I will have that blog day posted.
And….drumroll please….let your eyes really feast on this photo for a second….you can see Half Dome, Clouds Rest, Echo Peak (11,040ft), Tenaya Peak (10,301ft), Mt. Watkins (8,500ft), Nevada Falls (Upper) & Vernal Falls (Lower).
Glacier Point is 3,214 feet above the Valley floor and 7,214 feet above sea level. It truly provides a panoramic view of Yosemite Valley!
You can hike from the Valley to Glacier Point and you would take Four Mile Trail to do it but just know that it is considered a strenuous hike (gains 3,000 feet) so make sure you are ready for it before you head out. If you aren’t up for that but have two cars, then park one at Glacier Point and hike down into the Valley for a much less strenuous hike but you get to enjoy the views just the same.
Here is a close up of the falls. Next week we will hike to Vernal Falls via the Mist Trail but for today we get to admire it from up here. So breathtaking!
Happy Place! Happy Place! Happy Place! The last time I was here, I had just finished solo thru hiking the John Muir Trail and I was on cloud 9! Happy place for sure!
As you turn your view to your left when enjoying Half Dome, you will see the rest of the valley include Yosemite and Bridal Falls as show below! You will know you are in the valley as you see these falls on your left driving in…again, a cool vantage point from above them to get a great birds eye of the cars and people exploring the valley below.
We can’t wait to come back here and watch the sunset next week! I also can’t wait to take the boys into the valley and explore more with them now that we have gotten get some R&R after a few days in Oakhurst.
Fun to be back and be a tourist but really wish we could have done some backpacking while we are here to really immerse the boys into the area.
Coming up tomorrow : Yosemite Valley, Vernal Falls via the Mist Trail
Thanks again for coming along this journey with us. Happy trails and safe traveling…until next time!!
— Owl, Hi-Five and Eagle