While visiting my best friend, Colleen, in Vacaville, California we decided to make a trip to Yosemite National Park together. Colleen had been to Yosemite before but there is always room for return visits to our beautiful national parks. Yosemite had been on my bucket list for a while and I had thought a couple times that I was going to get to go, but each of those times other factors of life intervened and I was unable to make it. So when I knew I was making this road trip and the route I would be going would be taking me near Yosemite I put it on the list. A few weeks prior to leaving Phoenix the end of August there were reports coming out of California of fires at and around Yosemite as well as several other places in California. My heart sank as I thought of another opportunity that was going to fall through, but I decided to stay optimistic as it was going to be several weeks before I would be in California and hopefully things would change and the fires would be gone. So here I was finally in California on the morning of September 25th jumping in the car with my best friend heading for Yosemite. We left Vacaville about 9:30 AM and we had plans to make other site seeing stops on the way…..but those will be in another blog. We arrived at Yosemite at about 4:00 in the afternoon from Hwy 120 at the Toga Pass Entrance, it was a perfect time of day, and the weather was just right with blue, sunny skies. Yosemite was beautiful as we drove along the route with the ever-changing scenery of forests, meadows, majestic peaks and domes. We made several stops for photos and of course a picture with the “Yosemite” park entrance sign.
As the sun was starting to go down we made our way to “Tunnel View.” Tunnel View provides one of the most famous views of Yosemite Valley below, El Capitan to the left, Half Dome in the middle and Bridalveil Fall to the right.
As the setting sun concluded we made our way down to the valley floor and to Half Dome Village to our lodging for the night. We had gotten a room at the Stoneman House. These rooms are small and rustic with a bathroom and shower, electric wall heater, lights, and wall outlets. No phones or TV. I thought they were very nice rooms and decorated perfectly for the location. In the late 1800’s David and Jenny Curry were both schoolteachers who had dreamed of visiting Yosemite but felt they could not afford the luxury hotels. The Curry’s eventually did visit Yosemite and decided to create affordable lodging options. This led to the establishment of Camp Curry, now known as Half Dome Village when concessioner Delaware North took over. The original camp was comprised of a dozen tents with a central dining area where guests could gather together for meals. In a short time, its superb location and affordability inspired its rapid growth—ultimately growing to several hundred tents. Not long after, a dance pavilion, pool hall, swimming pool and ice skating rink were added. The dance hall was later renovated into what is now the Stoneman House lodge with 18 motel units.
The next morning we were up and ready to start our day exploring as much as we could of Yosemite and making our way back to Vacaville. Our day started with breakfast and then a stop down the road at the main village where we walked along to check out the shops, the general store and a stop at Ansel Adams photo gallery where you could purchase books and reprints of his photos that he took of Yosemite. We next drove along making stops for some photo shoots.
Our next stop was The Majestic Yosemite Hotel…….Such a beautiful hotel made of stone, steel, concrete, wood, and glass which opened in 1927 that sits right below the granite cliffs and beautiful valley floor. Originally named Ahwahnee Hotel the name was changed in 2016 over the trademark name with Delaware North when their contract ended and Aramark became the new hotel concessionaire.
We continued to wander along stopping for photo opportunities of the beautiful granite cliffs, the valley floor, Merced River, and Bridalveil Falls. The water levels were very low this time of year and only Bridalveil Falls had a trickle of water. I definitely would like to come back in the spring when there is more water flow.
We then wandered and made our way to Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias which was 36 miles from Yosemite Valley along Hwy 41. On the way, we came across an area that had been burned in the recent fires that had come through parts of Yosemite and some surrounding areas in August.
Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias was just opened June 15, 2018, after a 40 million restoration project. A new parking area welcome plaza was constructed at the park’s South Entrance. A free shuttle bus provides service from the Mariposa Grove that departs every 10 minutes. There are several trails and hikes you can take to see the Sequoias……We took the short loop and saw the “Fallen Monarch”. The Sequoias are so big and just beautiful.
From here we excited the South Entrance of the park on Hwy 41 where we stopped in Oakhurst for lunch, we continued on our way along Hwy 140 and made a stop at Merced Fruit Barn before catching Hwy 99 on into Vacaville. The Fruit Barn was a fun, cute shop where you could get a soda, deli sandwich, fruit, gift baskets, and unique gifts. The highlight I enjoyed was all the barnyard animals (Dolly the Llama, Taz the pot-bellied pig, Jolly the Nubian Pygmy goat, Bonnie, and Clyde the Emus, Blu the Peacock, as well as the Birds (MaCaws and George the Cockatiel).
We finally arrived back home in Vacaville at 9:30 P.M. It was a great two-day adventure and so much fun!