Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Yosemite National Park–Day 1


Our next planned stop after Sequoia National Park was Yosemite, and we knew we’d probably want to spend a couple of days exploring the park.  Tom looked far and wide for a campground close to the west entrance, but having been warned to stay off CA-49 with the RV, there wasn’t much else to choose from.  There is a KOA in Mariposa, which is close, but we generally stay away from KOAs.

We ended up picking the Merced River RV Resort, just off CA-99 north of Merced.  It was an easy 3 hour drive from Tulare, and after considering a couple of sites, we finally made our choice and got set up under the trees.

Merced River RV Resort

Under the trees at Merced River Resort


We knew the large trees would probably get the RV and truck dirty, but with temperatures forecast in the triple digits, the shade and grass would be a lot more comfortable than a gravel lot with no trees (our other campground option) . . . and this place had a pool . . . bonus!

We decided to stay for a week to get a slightly better rate, and to allow us to get caught up on work, school, and planning our next couple of stops (which would include Memorial Day weekend!)

We decided that we would go to Yosemite on Thursday and Saturday, and although we would have liked to go to the busier Valley area of Yosemite on the weekday, we opted to leave that for Saturday and set out for high elevation on Thursday.  With temperatures predicted to be 103 degrees, we knew it would be much more comfortable at 9000 feet!

Yosemite National Park


So, bright and early Thursday morning, we packed a lunch and drove towards the west entrance of Yosemite . . . it took us 2 hours to get to the park . . . a little longer than expected!

I had thought about signing up for a “Photography Walk” for Saturday, but with a 9am start time, I decided it probably wasn’t a good idea.





Anyway, the drive into the park on CA-140 was beautiful, as we followed the Merced River to where it was fed by the numerous waterfalls within Yosemite.          Merced River

About 10 miles outside the park, we came to a detour, where we would have to cross over to the opposite side of the river, apparently on a one-lane road.


We weren’t really sure what it was all about – it certainly didn’t look like a temporary detour – that bridge (and the twin at the other end of the one-lane road) looked pretty permanent!  On the way back later, we finally noticed what had closed the road on the south side of the river – a major rock slide completely took out the road, and a good part of the riverbank, too!


I’m not sure when it happened, but it didn’t look like it would be re-opening soon!

Arch Rock


We passed through the fee booth, showing our National Park pass for free entry (I’m starting to lose track, but I think we’re up to about $160 value on our $80 pass, and we’ve only had it for 6 weeks!), and then passed through a tunnel of rock . . . I don’t think I’d want to pull an RV through that!





Continuing into the park, we followed the raging waters of the Merced River.

Raging Water

Merced River


The river didn’t look too deep, but the water was flowing really fast.  We stopped at a small waterfall, too, and not only was the water fast, but it was cold, too!

We found a small waterfall












Since we were bypassing the valley on this trip, we turned off the main road, and onto Big Oak Flat Rd. which would take us to our destination for the day, Tioga Road.  Tioga Road traverses the High Sierra area of the park, all the way to Tioga Pass at the East Entrance.  There are many years when Tioga Road doesn’t open until late May, but snowfall was lighter in Yosemite this year, and the high road opened in April.

After a quick stop at the gas station at the beginning of Tioga Road for snacks and to use the bathroom, we started to climb.

The lowest area of Tioga Road was hit by a wildfire last summer, and the devastation is still apparent --


both visibly, and in the smell in the air!  Once we drove through this area, though, we were back in the lush wooded area of the High Sierra.

Tioga Road

We found the first of many small lakes, and stopped to take a look.  There were a couple ducks swimming around, and a few kids playing on the edge of the cold water.

Ducks on the lake

It was a beautiful, peaceful little lake.


We continued climbing, and began to see snow on the mountain peaks around us.

Snowy Peaks

Despite the high temperatures down in the valley, it was a comfortable 70 degrees in the sierras.  Nicolas had picked out a couple of hikes along Tioga Road, and when we reached the first one we ate our lunch on a big boulder before setting out on the hike.


Tree across the path


The Lukens Lake Trail was listed as an easy trail, although it was at pretty high elevation.  It was 0.8 mile through the woods to the lake, and then back again the same way.



DSC_0936The boys climbed over rocks and fallen logs,

Bryce is going to push this tree over!

Climbing rocks

and it wasn’t long before we started seeing snow on the trail.

We found a patch of snow!

Hiking in the snow











It's getting snowier!


As we got deeper into the woods, there was even more snow, and we were having to hike through it . . . not something we normally do in shorts!!

Hiking in the snow

Of course, Nicolas and Bryce couldn’t resist getting in a little snowball fight!

Playing in the snow

We got closer to the lake, and had to be careful where we stepped . . . at one point Nicolas’ foot sunk in the snow and he ended up in water!  It wasn’t deep, but he soaked his hiking boot! 

Bryce sinking in the snow


Bryce, of course, thought the same thing wouldn’t happen to him . . . but it did!  Now they both had wet shoes!!









Tom and I decided not to go any further when the snow started getting more unstable, and we couldn’t go around it because the slope was too steep. 


The boys continued on, though, until they reached the edge of the lake.

Hiking in the snow

It was a beautiful lake, and a peaceful hike through the woods.

Lukens Lake











Back at the car, we continued along Tioga Road to the next hike Nicolas had picked out.  This one was longer and involved more of a climb than the first one.  When we got there we found that the road to the trail was closed, and if we wanted to do the 2.5 mile hike, we would first have to walk 2 miles to the trail.  We were all a little tired, so decided to skip this one.

We drove a little further, admiring more snowy peaks,

Still lots of snow on the mountains

and found a small waterfall on the side of the road,

Roadside waterfall

and another lake surrounded by snow.

Mountaintop lake -- surrounded by snow

We had planned on driving all the way to Tioga Pass, but it was after 3pm already and we still had 25 miles to go, so we decided to turn around, knowing that we still had 3 hours of driving ahead of us.

On the way back out of the park, we got a good view of one of the tunnels on Big Oak Flat Road,


Bridalveil Falls in the distance


as well as a nice view of the valley, with Bridal Veil Falls in the distance.





It was a long day in the park with lots of driving, but we enjoyed the peace and solitude of the High Sierras, and the beautiful views!



We’d be back on Saturday for more breath-taking vistas, but also more crowds!



  1. a great tour of Yosemite! ..thanks for letting us 'ride along'!!

  2. Haven't made it to Yosemite yet... Thanks for the great tour. Love the hiking through the snow:o)))

  3. YNP has still got the beauty and magnificent views, even with a fire, those are part of the natural run of things.
    Keep up the good photo blogging.

  4. Still showing us all the beauty that we are missing. Someday!
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

  5. are gonna get triple digit weather at the campground, yet you can find snow on your hike! Yup.... I would go for a wooded shady campsite too.

    Karen and Steve
    (Blog) RVing: The USA Is Our Big Backyard

  6. That's a long drive to get there! I shouldn't talk though we drove 3 hours each way to visit Bryce last week! Love the shorts in the snow.


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