Yosemite is one of those “bucket list” national parks, like Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon. Known for its waterfalls and legendary rock-climbing walls, it is a visual wonder. It is no wonder that John Muir was able to convince Teddy Roosevelt that places like this deserve to be saved for everyone to see (a marker along the route marks the place of their meeting).
Within easy driving distance of San Francisco, the park draws massive crowds most of the year. I highly recommend fall. Not only are the colors more spectacular, but the weather can be fabulous. We were here on the 23rd of October and enjoyed blue skies and mid-70s temperatures. While crowded, it was much less so than in summer. We were able do drive our 2-ton Ford wherever we needed to go in the park, and there were no huge traffic jams. The only downside is that the major waterfalls have very little flow this time of year.
It was a great day for photography, and for watching rock climbers. With the help of our binoculars and the zoom lens on the camera we were able to pick out a dozen or so climbers on El Capitan (see the series of 3 pictures below).
The Ahwahnee Hotel is one of those classic structures reminiscent of the lodges at Yellowstone, Tetons, or the Grand Canyon. We enjoyed a nice lunch there.
A word of warning. It is a long and arduous drive ascended the mountains to get into the park. Roads are narrow with many switchbacks and often no guardrails. While we made the trip without incident in our huge truck, we will never do it again. It is simply too harrowing to navigate. I would never pull a trailer up here, and would only come back on the motorcycle or much smaller car.