What you cannot miss in Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks

If you are visiting California, either Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Even Las Vegas in Nevada, there are two national parks you cannot miss and will reward you with the most spectacular natural landscapes, with granite mountains, domes, hills, with meadows, lakes, forests with giant trees and redwood conifers. And not to talk about the amazing wildlife you’ll encounter a very few meters away from you nor the views from any hill you climb. We are talking about Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks, we promise both will be unforgettable.

  • The Yosemite Valley 
    Another iconic and beautiful place is the Valley, in the middle of the rock formations. It has waterfalls and rivers around where you can rest peacefully. It is an excellent central point for visiting Yosemite and move to the best climbing or hiking places. All parks have designated places for camping and some resorts with more amenities.

Yosemite and Sequoia National Park, the Californian oasis of giants

yosemite national park tunnel view valley

How to get to Yosemite and Sequoia from San Francisco?

Yosemite is only 3 hours and a half from San Francisco. The parks are relatively close one to each other, so you can arrange to attend both during at least four days, to take the time to see the most relevant sites or perhaps get relax in a beautiful camping site in a unique place on the planet. We decided to camp in Wawona, a very central place, and ideal for easily moving to interest places. 

Yosemite the granite sanctuary

The rock formations create absolutely stunning landscapes and from anywhere you can get excellent photos. There are hundreds of routes to walk as long as the weather permits, we could say that Yosemite has more adventures for those who love hiking or climbing. Some of the best places to see the interesting views:

  • The Half Dome from the Glacier Point view
    One of the most famous places in this park for its strange shape is the Half Dome. You can make a route of about 12 hours to reach its peak but is vital to get prior information about what is required to do so. To hike it proper shoes, water, and good shape are vital. The Glacier point allows you to see the great mountain from across. It is particularly beautiful at sunset time, as you will get the last sunlight on the top of the Half Dome.
  • The Tunnel View
    One of the favorite places to take the iconic picture of the park you may have seen. This is one of the most of any first visit to Yosemite Valley. You can get there outside the Wawona Tunnel. No hiking is required, you just need to park, set your camera and shoot spectacular views of El Capitan, Half Dome, and Bridalveil Fall. This vista changes on each season. Spring and Autumn are particularly special with the colors.
  • Mariposa Groove
    Although it was closed when we went to Yosemite, and still now (opens on June 15, 2018) due to a restoration project to enhance the resilience of the area. There is where you can see giant sequoias in Yosemite. However, the biggest of all the giant sequoias, are located in the Sequoia National Park.

Sequoia, land of giants

The park is renowned internationally because it houses the species with the greater volume of the planet: the Giant Sequoias. Over 100m tall trunks, over 10m in diameter (you will need around 35 people holding hands to hug it) and roots that exceed 30m depth, most of them, between 2000 and 3000 years old. You can take trails that let you see the most renowned sequoias, but note that trails are constantly changing, as the trees fall and its large trunk generate changes in the area. You can see some of the giants resting on the floor and get another perspective of their size, even walk on them and have this “ant” feeling. 

Interesting places to visit in Sequoia National Park:

  • The General Sherman
    This is the largest tree on earth (by its volume). 83,8 meters high, 31,3 meters in circumference, 11,1 m of diameter. This is a huge spectacular giant. I dreamt about hugging it, but in order to protect it, and to protect the fragile sequoia seeds, it has been surrounded by a fence. In any case, it was amazing to be honored to meet him.
  • The twins
    Located at Grant Grove, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park.
  • The Sentinel 
    He is kind of a teenager sequoia, compared to the elders, but is huge also and is located in front of the Giant Forest Museum, a very interesting place to understand deeply how these trees work together, how they overcome fires with resilience. You can read our post about it here.
  • The Moro Rock
    If you are more into hiking and you are not fit enough to hike the Half Dome in Yosemite, but still want to be rewarded with outstanding views, this is the place to go, it takes only half hour maximum 45 minutes. The Moro Rock will allow you to see the valley, Yosemite amazing views, the forest of the giants.
  • For Wildlife encounter: Crescent Meadows
    Definitely the best place. You can find black bears, deer, rabbits, many squirrels, among other species and incredible landscapes. I was feeling as in Bambie the Disney movie, with the views of the meadow, the deer, the sunlight. Really, amazingly beautiful. We were fortunate to arrive at the perfect time (4h30 pm) and see a mother with 3 cubs walking quietly. You have to be patient and look for them because they won’t come to you. Is also somehow, luck to encounter them. Ask the rangers, they have updated information always. 

Some recommendations to make the most out of it:

  • Visit the information centers. Further details about what to see, how to do it, when and some general history will be provided.
  • During summer time, most of the interesting points are packed, so try to get there early or to visit the park during fall or spring.
  • Drive slowly, the speed limit is highly regulated due to a large number of animals that can cross the road. Also, you can find the perfect time for a picture at any time.
  • It is vital that you check the time of year and weather conditions of the parks, as during several months many areas are closed to the public.

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What has been your favorite park in the United States West coast? Let us know below in the comments.

You can read our almost spiritual experience with the Sequoias in this link.

We dream about going back. Later will be… for the moment Vamos Somewhere else!