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A Visitor’s Guide from a Visitor: Yosemite National Park

A historic and unprecedented event isn’t occurring, the question of whether or not we’re alone in the universe hasn’t been answered. Bummer. I guess this isn’t the Independence Day where Will Smith throws a hissy fit in the middle of the desert, socks an alien in the face only to light up a cigar following a couple cheeky one-liners. One can still dream. What seems more likely is the earth continuing to revolve around the sun into our nations 241st birthday and what’s more American than hitting the road with a couple pals, a cooler chock-full of beverages and road tripping to a National Park to see some goddamn homegrown beauty. Hot diggity sounds like the most American activity I can think of short of Neil Armstrong planting a flag on the moon. Good luck topping that but trust me it’s a good idea to settle and hit a park this weekend and what better one than Yosemite National Park.


You live in Sacremento it’s close, you live in San Francisco it’s close. You live in LA it’s close enough. Spend the six hours in the car heading somewhere rad during the time you would normally spend sitting on the couch like some kind of sad sack.

Now that I’ve justified making the drive just know you won’t be disappointed. Right now is no doubt, trust me, the B-E-S-T time to visit the park, the number one reason is the waterfalls, they’re absolutely firing. Some spots in the Sierra Mountain Range were gifted with around 700 total inches of snow this winter, 700 total inches that are melting, with the summer temps, and spilling over Yosemite’s various waterfalls including its tallest 2,425-foot Yosemite Falls…rafting not recommended while catching a refreshing mist shower at the bottom is.

Here are some must hit spots for the weekend goer that are easily accessible with a pair of tennis shoes and your car. Don’t complain, yes you’ll have to spend a little more time in the car around the park but c’mon John Muir and gang barged through a couple thousand feet of un-pruned, uphill, bear-ridden forest to get to these locations.


Tunnel View

This is most likely the spot you see first when googling Yosemite. The Wawona Tunnel spits out right at this picturesque view of the valley. Be wary of tourists who may as well have their camera’s Gorilla Glued to their faces when coming out of the tunnel, they walk into the road to stop and shoot photos like a possum blinded by a glimpse of the high beams.


Yosemite Valley

Sunken thousands of feet below Yosemite’s points lays the Yosemite Valley. It’s immediately recognizable as you drive in from the western entrances of the park. With its main feature, and arguably the Mt Everest for rock climbers, El Capitan looming high above it’s pines. Grab a chair or a hammock and some binoculars and watch them ascend to the top. Also once you find them it really puts in perspective how large the rock formation is. 


Yosemite Falls

This easy to spot landmark is the fourth tallest waterfall in the United States and now, as stated above, is the best time of the year to see the falls dumping millions of gallons of snow melt water from its lofty cliff tops. It’s a piece of cake to spot from Yosemite Valley and you can get pretty close to the bottom from the Yosemite Valley loop.


Taft Point

My personal favorite spot nearby the valley to have a cold one is Taft Point. If you follow the 41 up to Glacier Point Rd and take a left on Glacier Point Rd. you’re on the right track. About 15ish miles up the road past the ski resort turn off on the only pull off with a bathroom, it will be on your left as you go up the road. From here grab your camera and a beverage and follow the tiny signs to Taft Point, which is less than a mile into the woods.


Glacier Point

One of the more iconic zones in the park is up the 41, left at Glacier Point Rd…. Obviously. Anyway follow that sucker all the way down as far as you can and you’ll end up at all 7,000ft of Glacier Point. From here you have another great view of the Valley and one of the best views of the famed Half Dome.


That’s all I’ve got, if you’re not happy with the advice tough, I’d bet someone else’s bank account you have an iPhone or a friend with an Iphone so google up something else to do and if you don’t have these things I’m truly sorry I’ve let you down. As a word of warning for this weekend get there early. With the summer weather the place is probably going to be mobbed so get your lazy ass out of bed before sunrise, drive in, bring a hammock and knap in the valley for a couple hours. That’s the move. Anyway…peace, happy America and I’m out, see you knuckleheads in the next blog post I’m going to the Grand Canyon.


-Erik Hoffman  Staff Photographer / Graphic Designer  @erikhoffmanphoto