Yosemite–Or the best stop for a frustrating vacation

Yosemite conjures up certain images. Blue skies. Greenery. Jawdropping views. Back to nature.

My reality involved navigating single lane roads that snaked through the hills and mountains and required the focus of an assassin. Driving at slow speeds so that it took hours to get anywhere in the park. Limited parking and horrible maps. The best part of the ride was the 12 mile ride into the park at Tioga Pass.

Once you are inside the park, things start to change. The Tioga Pass road is pretty nice up until Olmsted Point. Great view, parking available, nice vista. (BTW, the tiny line in the picture above is the road I drove into the park.)

We made it to Bridalveil Falls without any serious incidents. The falls were more like a mist and a nice trickle but they had a pretty rainbow.

Here’s where we made the mistake. We decided to head for Yosemite Valley (the epicenter of the park) and see Yosemite Falls. Yosemite Village is insane. Evidently, the park decided you can park and take shuttles around the area. Nice idea but I don’t like commuting on my vacay. I don’t want to have to learn a 4-5 bus shuttle system and waste 10-20 minutes waiting for a shuttle each way. It’s chaos if you are trying to drive in the valley. Bicycles and Pedestrians dart all over the place with no concern for traffic rules or their lives.

We had no idea how to find Yosemite Falls and decided our best bet was to exit this area of the park. On our way out, we see a sign for Yosemite Falls. All the guidebooks and online guides talk about how this is a real gusher and you’ll get wet watching the lower falls. So we park and hike to it. We arrive and find a dry wall of rock. Great. What a disappointment. I get that the falls run low at the end of the summer, but would it kill someone to put a sign at the entrance or make a note in the Yosemite pamphlets handed out at the entrance?!

Disappointed and annoyed, I now have to navigate back to our hotel at sunset. With 3 hours of driving ahead of me on super tight curves. Awesome. By the time we exit the park, I am wondering what I ever saw in this place. Rocks and dried up waterfalls. Wow. Of course, the ride home I start to feel like I’m going to pass out. Evidently, the high elevation and tough driving are too much. But wait. The night is young. A coyote saunters across the highway. I slow down and avoid an accident. Just as I start to breathe again, another coyote appears on the highway. You gotta be shitting me. Again I slow down and he moves along. Then the GPS tells me to turn on a road that is closed. I’m certain I saw signage about it being closed, but OL assures me I can turn on it. Something in me says no. As we drive by the road is covered in road blocks and says road closed.

We get back to the hotel and sleep. But the next day, we get up to see the sequoias. But guess what? The road is under construction and a 3 hour drive turns into a 4 hour drive. OMFG. Then the tram that takes you through the sequoias (13 miles of them) has a price increase from $16 to 25.50. Wow. That’s pretty huge.

So we skip the tram and hike 2 miles to see trees. A fire has burned through the area. That’s nice and depressing. Then when we get to the tunnel tree a group of 30 Italian tourists must take turns as couples having their picture taken in front of the tree. We wait a few minutes but finally give up as they organize for a group shot.

The sequoias were cool, but not worth the ridiculous amount of time and energy expended to get there. The entire park was a disappointment to me. I don’t get what everyone sees in it. And I would never go back there again.

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What do you think?