Yosemite National Park

July 18, 2016

There are a lot of places all around the world that I’d love to see. And it seems that every time I cross one place off, I add two more places to the list. I suppose that’s why they call it wanderlust, and I’ve got a bad case of it.

We’re wrapping up a weeklong trip to San Francisco (more on that later this week), and given our extended time in the Bay area, it afforded us time to make a trip that I’ve wanted to take for oh so long — a visit to Yosemite National Park. 

I’m not entirely sure what got me longing to visit Yosemite — it may have been my visits to national parks like the Grand Canyon or beautiful vistas along the California and Oregon coasts, the kinds of places that truly inspire awe and humility. Or it might have been Oprah and Gayle’s visit there during the last season of The Oprah Show (entertaining stuff if you never saw it). Or maybe it’s the fact that my macbook screen saver is a photo of Half Dome mountain lit up in purple and gold hues. Whatever the reason, this place was high on my bucket list, and I was giddy for the two weeks leading up to our visit.

We hit the road to leave San Francisco and head to Yosemite just before 7 a.m. Nearly four hours later, we were ancy to get out of the car and find lunch. But then this sight came into view, and our jaws dropped.StoriedStyledYosemite-29Now is probably a fitting time to tell you that these photos — and any other photos you see of Yosemite — just won’t do it justice. There’s nothing like feeling the grandeur of these mountains, or seeing the changing light that reflects off them, or breathing in the smell of fragrant pine. But I will share some of my favorite shots of the day, which I hope will let your imagination roam if you’ve never visited Yosemite, or will help you reminisce if you have been there. StoriedStyledYosemite-22
With food in our bellies, we were ready to take on everything. We headed straight for Tunnel View, which is known as the most iconic view of the park.StoriedStyledYosemite-2StoriedStyledYosemite-3From this spot, you get an incredible view of El Capitan, Three Brothers, and Half Dome, all at once.StoriedStyledYosemite-6
It was spectacular.

Even Jameson, with his extremely short attention span, seemed to realize it was a big deal — for about 10 seconds.StoriedStyledYosemite-4StoriedStyledYosemite-5www.GIFCreator.me_QDoykGFrom Tunnel View, we drove to Glacier Point, which is a roadway that’s only open in the summer months. From Glacier Point, you can see a panoramic view of the mountains, valley, and several waterfalls. On the way up, we saw a beautiful field of wild flowers that had me ready to frolic and break out into an off-key rendition of “the sound of music.”StoriedStyledYosemite-8StoriedStyledYosemite-7StoriedStyledYosemite-9Jameson was knocked out in his car seat, so my hope for family photos was quickly laid aside. Instead, Jordan and I took turns hopping out of the car to take in the view. Not ideal, but we made it work. Half Dome looked larger than life, and the sprinkling of waterfalls here and there was awesome.StoriedStyledYosemite-10StoriedStyledYosemite-11 StoriedStyledYosemite-12After a long day, we headed toward our hotel, Tenaya Lodge. We had wanted to see the old sequoia trees growing in Mariposa Grove on our way out of the park, but the section was closed for improvements. We also wanted to see the park at sunset, but, alas Jameson’s sleep needs didn’t jive with that desire.

We had a great time relaxing, eating, and swimming at the pool of our hotel, and then we headed back into the park for Day 2.StoriedStyledYosemiteStoriedStyledYosemite-15
And we were still freaking out over the views…

Our main stop was to see the Yosemite Upper and Lower Falls. It’s one giant fall, where the top part flows into the lower part. During the summer, it flows much lighter, due to the water being low, but it was still so impressive. I can only image what it’s like in early spring when the snow is freshly melted.StoriedStyledYosemite-20StoriedStyledYosemite-25StoriedStyledYosemite-24StoriedStyledYosemite-28
Even the hike to the falls was incredibly beautiful as we walked through redwoods and beside babbling streams. Yosemite has a range of hiking paths, and we were grateful that some of the best  trails were easy to navigate with a stroller. StoriedStyledYosemite-23
I wanted to take pictures of everything and nothing, all at the very same time. There was so much to see, so much I wanted to remember. And yet, I was torn, wanting to experience it all fully and soak it in.
All the while, I was incredibly grateful that we got to bring Jameson along for this journey and show him this magnificent place. StoriedStyledYosemite-16StoriedStyledYosemite-17
He obviously won’t remember this trip, but I so look forward to showing him photos of him standing in front of these amazing mountains. StoriedStyledYosemite-19StoriedStyledYosemite-18
It may sound strange, but Yosemite just captures a piece of your heart. And I’m so glad I finally got to experience it. I’m pretty sure Jordan went into the trip thinking I was way too hype for a visit to a national park. But by the end, he was totally a believer.

Here’s to my wishing that we get to go back one day. (smile in this pic is courtesy of a smiling, cheering Jameson).StoriedStyledYosemite-21

Some tips if you plan to visit Yosemite National Park:

  • You can get to Yosemite from San Francisco in approx. 3.5 hrs
  • Make a plan for what you want to see before you arrive, especially if your time is limited. Search online for photos and check out a map of the region.
  • Have your route mapped out in hard-copy form or saved to your phone, as phone service can be hard to come by once inside the park and even just outside of the park.
  • Much of Yosemite Valley is a one-way loop, so it’s important to plan out your stops along the loop, or else you can waste time driving more than you want/need to.
  • Book a hotel in the park, a cabin, or a campground well in advance (if it’s summer).
  • Overestimate how long it will take to see things — you’re guaranteed to stop more than you plan, to look up and say, “wow,” more than you plan, etc.

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  • Reply
    chelsea jacobs
    July 18, 2016 at 3:17 pm

    Such stunning land!

  • Reply
    Ma Rice
    July 18, 2016 at 7:30 pm

    Pictures are absolutely glorious!

    • Reply
      Jessica Rice
      July 24, 2016 at 10:04 pm

      Thanks! I love having them to transport me back.

  • Reply
    July 18, 2016 at 8:26 pm

    So inspiring! Yosemite might just have to go on my short-list of places to visit 😁

  • Reply
    July 19, 2016 at 1:49 am

    Yosemite is a real treat. So glad you got to see God’s creativity on your SF trip!!!

    • Reply
      Jessica Rice
      July 24, 2016 at 10:04 pm

      Me too! Hope I get to go back again one day.

  • Reply
    August 8, 2016 at 9:35 am

    I absolutely loved this post and it was so helpful as I am currently planning a trip to Yosemite in September! Lovely pictures.

    Holly at xx

    • Reply
      Jessica Rice
      August 8, 2016 at 4:17 pm

      That makes me smile — to know it was helpful and that you’ll be making a trip to one of the most beautiful places on earth! Hope you enjoy the trip. Many thanks!

  • Reply
    Cap Kelly
    September 25, 2016 at 12:47 am

    Hi Jess! I just came across your blog this evening through something that a friend posted. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Jessica Morland Rice is the same Jess Moreland that graduated from East with my son, Ryan Kelly. I so enjoyed reading through some of your blogs. I especially liked your post on your visit to Yosemite. It is a shame that you didn’t know that Ryan lives and works there. I can vouch, firsthand, that he can service as an excellent tour guide! For a number of years he was an outdoor educator in the park. He currently works for a nonprofit that secures funding for Yosemite,however, his true love is climbing. He can frequently be found climbing half Dome scaling the walls of El Cap. If you ever find yourself back there you should look him up. It is not often that he runs into people from this side of the country! So glad that you loved your trip! It looks like life is good for you. That is wonderful!

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