Para leer este texto en español

Yosemite is majestic. Its grandeur obliges you to reflect on the world, nature, time, and human existence. Looking at the monoliths carved by glacial movement, weather and erosion over more than 30 million years forces you to also look inward. You wonder about God, love and just how the hell something so amazing, created only by geological forces, can exist.

Yosemite National Park consists of 1,914 square miles and extends into the hillsides of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Hiking all of its terrain would be an odyssey only available to the fanatics of natural beauty. Yosemite Valley, where the majority of visitors stay, represents just one percent of the Park’s total area.

Foto: Wendy Garrido

Unesco declared the Park as a World Heritage site in 1984. Yet Yosemite does not belong to us. It belongs to itself and endures in spite of the presence of humans. Hordes of tourists and travellers arrive daily to marvel at its majesty, to feel small standing before El Capitán, one of the largest monoliths in the world, as well as Half Dome, its dozens of cliffs, waterfalls and groves of giant sequoias.

Yosemite, in its function as a national park, gives tourists the ability to hike through its different areas and is designed to be accessible to all, regardless of age (from babies in strollers to senior citizens). It has a one-way road system that passes by all the main points of the valley yet also offers parts that can only be accessed on foot. 

Yosemite is so impressive that no matter how many visitors are present, you can personally enjoy the experience it has to offer.

How to arrive?

Getting to Yosemite is easy. We rented a car in Oakland and drove three and a half hours on the freeway, that is more of an asphalt carpet in perfect condition and offering incredible views of landscapes that serve as appetizers to the main course: the Wawona tunnel, that allows you to see the Yosemite Valley with it main guardians Half Dome and El Capitán in the distance. 

The first look at Yosemite is intoxicating. Your body and mind do not know how to react to such stimuli. My hands began to shake and my eyes shifted rapidly from one place to another. On my face a smile began to form, my teeth and lips forming an expression that made me look like an ecstatic crazy person. I tried to take a picture, but I realized that often beauty can not be captured or trapped. I prefered to be present to my reaction to the force of nature. I took a deep breath, trying to get a little bit of Yosemite inside of me. To feel its air course through my body. To feel like part of the Earth’s power. To feel my small existence in magnificence. 

Foto: Wendy Garrido

The experience is so cathartic that in spite of the hundreds of tourists present your gaze can focus on what is not human. The green of the trees and the contrast of the rocks. The falling of water. 

It is said that Yosemite contains each of the four elements: water, earth. air and fire. Water in its rivers and falls, the clean air produced by the trees, the earth of its mountains. Fire can be represented in two ways: the campfires lit in its many campsites and what is known as the firefall. During two weeks in February, the winter light collides against the granite walls of El Capitán and creates an orange ray that glows like a cascade of fire, “burning” as the sun sets. 

In his enthusiasm to imitate nature, a man who operated a hotel in Glacier point, James McCauley, started to climb to the summit every night to have a bonfire. He would shove the burning logs off the cliff to create the illusion of falling lava. It became an attraction and a tradition that was performed daily at 9 at night, until almost 70 years later, it was prohibited due to environmental concerns. 


Where to stay?

Yosemite Park has adapted well to visitors. Lodging is plentiful and you can stay in one of its four hotels that offer swimming pools, bars, restaurants and even a golf course. You can also camp in one of its 13 campsites stationed throughout the park, including the zones of the Valley, Tuolumne Meadows and Wawona. 

We decided to camp. Each site includes a fire pit, a table, a grill and a locker to protect your food from the bears that live in the park. There are also shared bathrooms. 

You will see a ton of RV’s at these sites. The “camping” culture of the U.S. is impressive. It is really comfortable to arrive in your car with all you need and enjoy perfect relaxation, after hiking for hours. A campfire, music, quiet conversations under the stars and tent complete with an air mattress all contribute to this peace. 

Ignoring the fear I had of running into a bear as I walked to the restroom at night, camping in Yosemite has been one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life and I highly recommend it if you are thinking of going. 

Foto: Wendy Garrido

Guide to lodging

Make a reservation! We didn’t and had to get on a waiting list for a campsite.  Luckily we got one, but only after waiting for a few hours.

 Majestic Yosemite (formerly Hotel Ahwahnee): lodging in an historic park in the Yosemite valley: pool, restaurant, bar.

• Half Dome Village (formerly Curry Village): cabin, tents and rooms in Stoneman House; pool, restaurant.

• Big Trees Lodge (formerly Hotel Wawona): pool, golf, restaurant.

• Yosemite Lodge at the Falls: motel style lodging; pool, restaurant.

• High Sierra Camps: Six remote campsites with tent cabins along the John Muir trail in the east Yosemite, hiking access; the price of the accommodations includes three meals daily.


Camping reservations: 877-444-6777 or

• 13 designated campgrounds throughout the whole park, including Yosemite Valley, Tuolumne Meadows and Wawona.

Important info

Hiking: More than 800 miles of marked trails. There are five sections available to visitors:

o   Yosemite Valley

o   Wawona/Mariposa Grove/ Glacier Point,

o   Tuolumne Meadows,

o   Hetch Hetchy,

o   Crane Flat/White Wolf.