One of nature’s most magnificent playgrounds, Yosemite National Park is truly one of the most beautiful places on earth. Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, we are so fortunate to be located close enough to drive to a place that people travel from around the world to visit. When driving through Yosemite Valley, I can’t help but feel as if I have stepped into a magical place where all my daily concerns just melt away.
Nature’s granite rock sculptures dominate the landscape, making all traces of human activity look like ants. On my recent visit to the park, the waterfalls were flowing at full capacity, thanks to the late rains that have filled the rivers. At this incredible Nature’s playground, you can sit quietly by the Merced River with a picnic and a book while gazing at El Capitan, then get a mini shower from the mist of Bridalveil Falls, Yosemite Falls or many of the other waterfalls scattered around the park.
There are endless hiking trails everywhere, close to the valley floor and in the backcountry. Since the backcountry roads were closed in April, we chose a rigorous seven-mile hike, starting at the base of Vernal Falls, then ascending the John Muir Trail to nearly the top of Nevada Falls, finally descending the Vernal Falls trail. Of course, we had to stop at the viewing area atop of Vernal Falls to see the sheer granite wall that makes Vernal Falls explode with enormous volumes of water as it flies off the edge of the cliff. That experience tested my agoraphobia–luckily, I had my loving family members to give me moral support on the steep descent. After completing the hike, my legs felt the weary burn of an exhausting workout, and my spirit was high as I felt the satisfaction of accomplishment.
John Muir said it best about Yosemite: “It is by far the grandest of all the special temples of Nature I was ever permitted to enter.”