Yosemite National Park - California
Yosemite National Park is on everyone’s list and there’s a reason that it gets several million visitors each year. The word Yosemite referred to the Indian tribe that lived in the area and has a sad past which isn't all that surprising considering our national history when it comes to Native Americans. But even with that and the crowds it's an incredibly beautiful part of California. I can’t imagine what it must have been like when John Muir wandered through the forests and stood at the base of Yosemite Falls.
So what is it about this place that makes it so magical? The valley and surrounding mountains were carved by glaciers which left exposed granite cliffs and domes, and the park is home to five of the worlds highest waterfalls. It's no wonder it was designated a National Park in 1890 and then added to the list of World Heritage Sites in 1984. John Muir was one of the first champions of Yosemite and wrote about the beauty of the spot. Through the years it's been written about and photographed and continually visited.
Two days isn't enough to see everything Yosemite has to offer. I don't think there is enough time to see it all; to sit and watch the change of seasons and each the beautiful sunset. If we lived closer it would be a park that I'd never tire of visiting, hiking the trails over and over. I envy the people who live with Yosemite in their backyard.
Since we knew we'd be limited on time I picked up a copy of Your Guide to the National Parks: The Complete Guide to all 59 National Parks. This book is a must. We've used it a ton and knowing ahead of time some the best spots to visit or places that get less traffic was invaluable. It's one of the first things I pack when we're headed out for an adventure.
My favorite part of our visit was the walk out to Taft Point. This was such a peaceful spot compared to the rest of the park in mid July. The view, even hazy with the smoke of a wildfire burning not too far away, was stunning. No photo can do it justice; the feeling of being there with the wind in your face, the trepidation of standing at the edge, the thinnest of iron rails between me and air. I'm terrified of heights but being there was like nothing else and totally worth the knot in my stomach.
I will always want to go back. I want to take the people I love and walk under the trees, stare up at Half Dome and the Three Brothers, and soak up all the wondrous wilderness. Even surrounded by humanity, swarmed with overpowering crowds, there are moments of silence and sernity.