Hiking Yosemite National Park: In Photos


Yosemite was never in my plans for the US.

California wasn’t even in my plans.

When I found myself in Vietnam with a spare two weeks and no decision made for where to go next, I made a last-minute decision to travel somewhere new. Flights from Ho Chi Minh City to Los Angeles were cheap, my readers over on Facebook insisted I visit San Francisco when I put it to a vote — so I aimed for a fortnight travelling up the west coast of the US.

As an aside: my China Eastern flight to Los Angeles was one of the more interesting flights I’ve had to date. The cabin staff were handing out bags of raw radishes as a snack every single hour, on an overnight flight. Did they have an excess of radishes? Do the Chinese simply love radishes? Either way, it was strange and I ended up with a daypack full of radishes by the end of the flight.

I’d wanted to visit Yosemite for years but hadn’t believed it would be possible to visit this time around, especially as I wouldn’t have my own transport. I toyed with the idea of a Yosemite coach tour with the hostel I was staying with but the $140 price tag seemed over-the-top ridiculously expensive, especially as I often don’t enjoy tours.

It was at this point that my very good friend Gina, who lives close to San Francisco, stepped in and saved the day! She had a few days off work and offered to pick me up and drive to Yosemite for a fun day of hiking, gossiping and breathtaking scenery.

We chose to hike the Mist Trail, one of the most popular hikes in the park. The trail follows alongside the Merced River, climbing up past Vernal Falls, to Nevada Falls, before looping back around via the John Muir Trail. At 11 kilometres long, this figure would have once had me reeling in horror but after hiking the Queen Charlotte Track in New Zealand, it wasn’t particularly intimidating.

And Yosemite completely and utterly blew me away. I was expecting to be impressed, but not to the extent that I was. I’d have to say that the Mist Trail was probably the most beautiful hike I’ve ever done, and that Yosemite is one of the most beautiful places Ive seen.

Here are some of my favourite photos of amazing, stunning, incredible Yosemite.

Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls
Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls

 

View of Vernal Falls
View of Vernal Falls in the distance, the first waterfall we were hiking to, with the Merced River in the foreground

 

Tame Yosemite Squirrel
I was shocked to discover just how tame the squirrels were in Yosemite! They scrambled around within inches of my feet, begging for food from anyone who was eating.

 

Nevada Falls, Yosemite
With Vernal Falls conquered, it was time to take on our second waterfall, Nevada Falls

 

Nevada Falls and Half Dome
The view of Nevada Falls and Half Dome

 

The Merced River
The Merced River

 

A side-on view of Nevada Falls
A side-on view of Nevada Falls — almost there!

 

The view from the top of Nevada Falls
The view from the top of Nevada Falls — the hike to this point was particularly strenuous

 

The view from the top of Nevada Falls
The view from the top of Nevada Falls

 

The view from the top of Nevada Falls -- the Merced River
The view from the top of Nevada Falls — the Merced River

 

View of the park from the top of Nevada Falls
View of the park from the top of Nevada Falls

 

Half Dome and Nevada Falls from the John Muir Trail
Half Dome and Nevada Falls from the John Muir Trail

 

Vernal Falls from the John Muir Trail
Vernal Falls from the John Muir Trail

I loved my time at Yosemite, and the weather was perfect for our day of hiking, with bursts of sunshine alternating with cloudy skies and cool breezes. And, while hiking up past Vernal Falls, I soon discovered why the hike is called the Mist Trail when I found myself drenched and sufficiently cooled down with a free shower from all the spray.

The Mist Trail was the perfect way introduction to Yosemite and I can’t wait to see even more of the park. I have a feeling I’ll be returning in the future — next time I’ll be spending at least a week here.

Which of these photos is your favourite?

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49 Comments

  1. Vi
    November 23, 2013
    Reply

    I am glad you visited Yosemite NP, this park has really stunning scenery.

    • Lauren
      November 24, 2013
      Reply

      It was one of the highlights from my time in the US

  2. Gina
    November 23, 2013
    Reply

    Love this! You’re pics are gorgeous!!

    • Lauren
      November 24, 2013
      Reply

      Thank you so much, Gina! :-)

  3. SnarkyNomad
    November 23, 2013
    Reply

    No matter how much of an adult I think I am, I still can’t read Yosemite without jumping to Yosemite Sam and reminiscing about old Looney Tunes episodes. I think somebody should start a rumor that he lives in the park, like the Loch Ness Monster, and then see how many people can be tricked into looking for him.

    • Lauren
      November 24, 2013
      Reply

      If I told you I didn’t know what Yosemite Sam is… I’m sure you’d be disappointed in me :-)

  4. Luke
    November 23, 2013
    Reply

    Your photo’s are absolutely stunning, I’ve always wanted to go to the Yosemite and seeing these photo’s just make me excited and determined to go one day. Great post!

    • Lauren
      November 24, 2013
      Reply

      Thank you so much, Luke! I hope you get to visit one day :-)

  5. Chris Cavallari - Part Time Vagabond
    November 24, 2013
    Reply

    I have to say, I love the shot of Half Dome and Nevada Falls from the JMT. I’ve never been to Yosemite, but it’s on my to-do list, for sure. Every time I see someone post about Yosemite, I can feel the wanderlust pulling at my shoestrings. Thanks for the great post!

    • Lauren
      November 24, 2013
      Reply

      Thank you, Chris! It really is an amazing place :-)

  6. Amanda
    November 25, 2013
    Reply

    It looks like you had a fantastic day for hiking! I really love Yosemite – it may be my favorite national park in the U.S. so far!

    • Lauren
      December 10, 2013
      Reply

      There are so many incredible national parks in the US that I don’t know how I could possibly choose one as my favourite!

  7. Beth
    November 26, 2013
    Reply

    I’ve never been to Yosemite, but I certainly want to. Glad you were able to work it into your trip!

    • Lauren
      December 10, 2013
      Reply

      It’s an incredible place! :-)

  8. Kirsty
    November 26, 2013
    Reply

    Those pictures are beautiful! I have heard a lot about national parks in America – I’m not a big one for hiking but I think I would be happy to do it for those views!

    • Lauren
      December 10, 2013
      Reply

      I’m not too much of a hiker but this one was quite easy :-)

  9. Natasha
    November 27, 2013
    Reply

    Lovely Pictures, Looks amazing!

    • Lauren
      December 10, 2013
      Reply

      Thanks, Natasha!

  10. Linda Aksomitis
    November 28, 2013
    Reply

    Wow, gorgeous photos! I’m planning a trip down the West coast for spring and can see Yosemite is a must-stop on our travels. Thanks for sharing!

    • Lauren
      December 10, 2013
      Reply

      Thank you, Linda! Yosemite will definitely be a highlight :-)

  11. TammyOnTheMove
    November 29, 2013
    Reply

    The last photo is my favourite I think. I love that waterfall. Yosemite looks gorgeous and I’d love to go.It doesn’t look like there were a lot of people. Is the park just so big that you don’t tend to see many people or was it just a timing thing?

    • Lauren
      December 10, 2013
      Reply

      I think it was just clever angles :-) It was quite busy when I was there, but there were definitely fewer people the longer I hiked :-)

  12. Jessica J. Hill
    November 29, 2013
    Reply

    Wow, these are stunning photos! I have yet to make it to Yosemite, but I think it’s amazing you let your readers vote and flew from Vietnam to L.A. on a whim! If you’re still around, try to make it to Yellowstone and Grand Teton as well. They’re gorgeous.

    • Lauren
      December 3, 2013
      Reply

      Sometimes I just find myself with too many options that all seem equally awesome and can’t decide which to choose! I feel like my readers made the right decision in choosing California :-)

      I’m super-keen to get to Yellowstone but unfortunately I’ve just left the US. Next time!

  13. Shereen
    November 29, 2013
    Reply

    I absolutely love waterfalls. These pictures are stunning. How did you get so close? I’m not a crazy fan of squirrels but that close up is pretty awesome. I’ll have to add Yosemite on my list of waterfalls to see when I travel to that area.

    • Lauren
      December 3, 2013
      Reply

      I got so close because… that was where the trail went? And I got close up to the squirrels because every single tourist was feeding them and they have ended up incredibly tame!

  14. Andrea
    November 30, 2013
    Reply

    Wow – what an amazing park! So many national parks in the US that I want to explore and this is one of them

    • Lauren
      December 3, 2013
      Reply

      It’ll definitely be hard to top Yosemite :-)

  15. Gabe
    November 30, 2013
    Reply

    The states has a lot more beauty to offer than people think, great pictures by the way :)

    • Lauren
      December 3, 2013
      Reply

      Absolutely! I have an even longer list of places I want to visit now :-)

  16. Laura
    December 2, 2013
    Reply

    Beautiful photos! Glad it worked out for you to visit Yosemite. The one time I was in the San Francisco area with a couple days to spare and hoped to visit Yosemite, I looked into it and Trip Advisor was recommending snow chains for the drive into the mountains (it was November I believe)! So, I stayed in the Bay Area but have always wanted to get there. Maybe in 2014!

    • Lauren
      December 3, 2013
      Reply

      Thanks, Laura! It definitely seems like the park would be best visited outside of winter :-). I hope you get to go in 2014!

  17. Greg Goodman
    December 8, 2013
    Reply

    LOVE Yosemite. Such a beautiful and amazing place… truly a testament to the American National Parks system. Thanks for sharing such beautiful photos.

    • Lauren
      December 8, 2013
      Reply

      Absolutely! Glad you enjoyed the photos :-)

  18. Bill DeGiulio
    December 13, 2013
    Reply

    I think my favorite photo is the very last one, the Vernal Falls from the John Muir Trail. I love the color of the pool and the people on the ledge give you an idea of just how large the waterfall is. What an amazing place. Happy traveling.

    • Lauren
      December 13, 2013
      Reply

      That’s one of my favourites too! :-)

  19. Barbara
    December 17, 2013
    Reply

    Yosemite is such a wonderful, awe inspiring place. I’m so glad you were able to visit the park and enjoy it’s amazing beauty. The squirrels there can be very aggressive if they are hungry and you have food to share!!

    • Lauren
      December 18, 2013
      Reply

      I’m definitely not surprised about the squirrels! They were some of the tamest wild animals I’ve come across.

  20. Carmen Edelson
    December 21, 2013
    Reply

    We took the family to Yosemite a few years ago and stayed in the park a few days. We enjoyed all the trails and especially seeing some of the waterfalls in the area. We were amazed by the size of some of the trees. A few are so large that you can drive your car through it. We found a family of deers in the area and they came very close to us. It’s a great place to visit.

    • Lauren
      November 14, 2015
      Reply

      Sounds like a wonderful trip, Carmen! I’ve got to spend more time in Yosemite in the future, for sure :-)

  21. Marysia @ My Travel Affairs
    January 1, 2014
    Reply

    Still as beautiful as when I visited first time :) Amazing pictures!

    • Lauren
      January 15, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Marysia!

  22. Jo
    August 14, 2014
    Reply

    If you like Yosemite you have to visit Glacier National Park!! I promise you will love it (it’s even better than Yosemite)!

    • Lauren
      August 16, 2014
      Reply

      I’d love to visit Glacier National Park! One day… :-)

  23. Katelyn
    January 26, 2017
    Reply

    I just found this post and it reminds me of my trip to Yosemite last year. I was only there for the morning so could only get to Vernal Fall, but I was blown away. The scale of the place is so unlike anything in the U.K.! I’d love to get back and spend more time there as well as Yellowstone one day.

  24. Becky
    January 7, 2018
    Reply

    Did you go to Yosemite as a day trip from San Francisco? Trying to fit it into my trip in March!

    • Lauren
      January 7, 2018
      Reply

      Yes, I did!

  25. Tom Peters
    August 11, 2019
    Reply

    Your pictures look amazing! I have one question about the second to last picture with the subtitle “Half Dome and Nevada Falls from the John Muir Trail”. As I am planing my trip to the Yosemite National Park, I have been searching for a long time for the spot where you took that picture, but I’m not able to find it. Did you leave the John Muir Trail? Or did you take the picture from Clark Point? Overall, I would be interested in knowing which trail you chose in order to take these pictures.
    Thank you in advance,
    Tom

    • Lauren
      August 12, 2019
      Reply

      I’m fairly certain it was just on the John Muir Trail. I did the hike in 2012, though, so my memory isn’t great! I’m 90% certain it was John Muir.

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