Yosemite National Park is home to a long list of spots that know how to get your attention, but Lower Yosemite Fall is putting on an extended show for visitors this summer. It’s almost August and the waterfalls are still flowing. No one really knows how long they’ll last this year.
The hike is flat and easy; depending on how many pictures you take, 30 minutes to an hour is all you’ll need. But consider yourself warned, the footbridge near its base can be a bit of a spray zone, so getting wet is a possibility.
I was in Yosemite National Park during the end of June. The day I hiked the Mist Trail to the top of Vernal Fall, however, getting wet wasn’t a possibility, it was a guarantee. But you just don’t seem to care about having to wring out your layers when all those rainbows keep popping up in front of you. I didn’t count them, but this hike is said to have more than 600 steps, so it’s not an easy hike, but the scenery delivers the motivation to keep you moving.
At the top of Vernal Fall you can dry out and then continue on to the top of Nevada Fall, or go back the way you came for another scenic soaking.
Free shuttle buses are the best way to move around Yosemite Valley, but if you want to visit Glacier Point you can lace up your boots for a tough hike on the Four Mile Trail, or make the 45-minute to an hour drive. (It’s accessible by car from approximately late May through October or November.)
As expected, the views (Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, Yosemite’s high country) are fantastic, but I recommend making time for this stop because this is where you really gain perspective, and understanding in regards to the lay of the land. And if you’re traveling with kids, or just someone with a sweet tooth, they sell ice cream up here during the summer. So, if you need a little extra motivation on a hot summer day, there’s always dessert with a view.
A large majority of visitors stick to Yosemite Valley, which is unfortunate because that means they’re missing spots like Glacier Point and Mariposa Grove. Located near Yosemite’s South Entrance, Mariposa Grove is home to about 500 mature giant sequoias. Some are more famous than others – like the California Tunnel Tree and the Grizzly Giant, but chances are you’ll be impressed by the whole lot. First thing in the morning, or the last hour or so before sunset is a fantastic time to explore.
You can see them both using an easy out and back trail, but the Grizzly Giant Loop Trail is a little longer. We took the two-mile long loop because it looked like we’d have it all to ourselves. We still had company, but this is the kind of company that’s worth the extra steps.
A free shuttle runs visitors from the parking lot to the Mariposa Grove entrance.
At the end of a busy day, there’s a fun, new place to call it a night on the Mariposa County side of the park. About an hour’s drive from Yosemite Valley, AutoCamp Yosemite offers custom Airstream trailers complete with queen beds, kitchenettes and bathrooms.
Think of it as all of the fun and nostalgia of camping, without much of the dirty work. Luxury Tents, also with queen beds, are another option if you’re looking to rough it. The nightly campfire is a social hot spot, so come prepared with s’mores fixings.
Dana’s stay was hosted by AutoCamp Yosemite, but as always her thoughts and opinions are her own. For more about Dana’s adventures and writing, follow her on Instagram @danarebmann and Twitter @drebmann. You can also visit her website.