From towering granite monoliths to stunning waterfalls, what’s not to love about Yosemite National Park? From winter to summer, this national park – one of the oldest in the US – is among the top tourist destinations not just in California but in all of the country. This national park has been the subject of many exquisite travel guides and somehow tourists are still enthralled when they discover how lofty the park is when they see it for the first time.
Indeed, Yosemite National Park is an icon of California’s majestic natural beauty. It is home to dramatic waterfalls, abundant wildlife, giant sequoias, breathtaking cliffs, and more. If you love the great outdoors, you will have a newfound appreciation of all things natural beauty once you immerse yourself in the stillness of this natural masterpiece.
Protected since 1864, this national park offers a seemingly unending list of things to see and do. But if you decide to venture a little bit outside the park, you will find other gems like the Madera County and Bass Lake.
Madera County is located at the heart of the Golden State’s Central Valley region. It is known as the gateway to the Yosemite but it has earned its notoriety as California’s true wine country. The Madera Wine Trail is a must for those visiting the region but there’s more to see and experience such as the fine food, art galleries, and working farms.
Bass Lake is another notable destination that is notable for its scenic views and sparkling blue waters and is located just 17 miles from the Yosemite National Park gate. There’s plenty of activities to do in the lake no matter what season you visit – from fishing, swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, canoeing, and bird watching… you name it.
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The Los Angeles to Yosemite Coastal Road Trip is one of the most popular routes in the region. This route spans 886 miles and is a great way to see the marvels of the Central Coast. Much of the route’s popularity stems from the fact that the drive is as stunning as your destination, giving you plenty to see and look forward to during your journey. So don’t forget to pack your camera and be ready for a few stops along the way!
The GV80 2.5 Prestige from Genesis USA is the perfect road trip companion, which gives you a luxurious driving experience without the expensive price tag. Not only is it the perfect size, it also commands attention for its distinctive and exotic look. The bold grille with signature double lighting and premium materials give it a luxurious feel. The interior is not to be left behind either. It features gorgeously quilted leather seats and has lots of cargo space for your personal belongings. Meanwhile, the 14.5-inch infotainment system will entertain you during your long drive. Additional features give you the comfort you deserve throughout your journey – wireless phone chargers (so you’re always connected!), smart posture care seat alignment system, and heated/ventilated seats, to name a few.
The Pines Resort
Serving as the gateway to Yosemite, The Pines Resort is the ultimate choice of accommodation if you’re planning to explore the national park for a few days. This resort is tucked within the towering pines and offers proximity to the famed Bass Lake. You have a number of room varieties to choose from and all are equipped with modern amenities to deliver a luxurious stay.
The resort offers a contemporary mountain décor so it blends naturally with the environment it is built in. Moreover, nearly all rooms have forest or lakefront views so you can soak in the breathtaking landscape around you. If you want to experience the ultimate California lake and mountain retreat, look no further than The Pines Resort.
Yosemite National Park
Before you explore the Yosemite National Park and its features, make sure to stop by the Wawona Covered Bridge and the Pioneer History Center. This is a historic structure that was built in 1857 and crosses over the South Fork Merced River. There are plenty highlights that you should add to your must-see list when exploring Yosemite National Park including the Yosemite Chapel. Built in 1879, this is the oldest building in the Yosemite Valley that is still operational until today. It is small and intimate so it is a popular destination for small weddings, opening its doors to stunning views of the Yosemite Falls.
Another noteworthy attraction is the Sentinel Bridge, which is the oldest surviving bridge in the Merced River. It is located where the Yosemite Village once was and is the perfect spot to marvel at the awe-inspiring Half Dome from a distance. Don’t forget to snap a gorgeous reflection of the Half Dome on the Merced River.
From the Sentinel Bridge, the Yosemite Falls is a half-mile walk away. When you visit in the morning and the temperature is below 20, you might get the chance to see frazil ice from the falls. Also, be on the lookout for the “snow cone” at the base of the upper Yosemite Falls. Looking up at the 2,425-feet waterfall (the tallest in North America) will literally take your breath away.
Another must-do in the Yosemite National Park is the Mist Trail. To witness this natural marvel, hike less than a mile to the Vernal Falls Footbridge. It is an uphill trail so be extra careful, especially when you visit in the winter as the trail can be slippery.
Next on the list is the Mirror Lake, which is mostly flat. This is where the most iconic shots of the Half Dome are taken. You will get an up-close view of the iconic rock formation and capture one of your own for a souvenir. It is an easy walk to get to this area but it comes with a huge payoff once you see the stunning natural sight.
Aside from the Half Dome, you can’t afford to miss another stunning formation in the park – El Capitan. This is a massive monolith that rises approximately 3,569 feet from the base of the summit. It is known as the largest single granite rock in the world. It is sought after by elite rock climbers and you can find some of them conquering this massive rock formation when you visit from spring to fall.
If you’re up for more sightseeing, head to the Valley View. Keep an eye out for the pullout on the left as you make your way to the Pohono Bridge. This is where you can be in awe with the panoramic view of the Yosemite Valley; in fact, you’ll see the park’s best formations namely the El Capitan, Half Dome, Clouds Rest, and Bridalveil Falls.
Fern Spring is waiting for you as you make your way to your left from the Pohono Bridge. In here, you will find the mildly cascading Fern Spring – known as Yosemite’s smallest waterfall.
And finally, there’s the Bridalveil Meadow. In here, you will find the sign at the Bridalveil Meadow where Join Muir and Theodore Roosevelt met in 1903. This is an important meeting as it marked the preservation of the park’s ecosystem.
Yosemite Adventure Company
If you’re up for an adventure, you can’t go wrong with Yosemite Adventure Company. They offer a wide range of activities that you can partake in if you are looking for an adrenaline rush and see the highlights of the Yosemite region. Enjoy on- and off-road adventure at the Yosemite National Park with Yosemite Adventure Company in their ATV tours and jeep tours. Don’t miss their 4×4 excursions for an adventure of a lifetime.
Yosemite Axe Throwing
Get into the Western spirit by partaking in a unique activity – Yosemite Axe Throwing. Be a lumberjack for a day as you get to indulge in an experience like no other. This fun activity involves throwing axes at three to four pine tree rounds that are specifically structured for your entertainment. If you’re up for trying something new with the family or with your friends, don’t miss out!
The Madera Wine Trail is a bucket list item for serious wine lovers. Located south of Yosemite, you have plenty of wineries to check off your bucket list so you can sample the best wines of the region. There is an abundance of family-run wineries for the wine enthusiasts but also lots of history that dates back to more than a century ago. These wineries are the perfect way to explore the warm climate of the region and taste its best produce.
Toca Madera Winery
Toca Madera Winery is located on exquisite hills with majestic vines. The vineyard was built in 2014 and spans 7,000 square feet in land area. A hidden gem for wine lovers, the winery is known for their wide range of small-batch single vineyard varietals including red and white Rhône-style wines. It has a large tasting room wherein guests can sample some of their award-winning wines or take home a bottle with them.
Idle Hour Winery + Kitchen
Idle Hour Winery + Kitchen is located a short distance from Yosemite National Park’s southern gate. It offers lodging, wine tasting, and a restaurant with lunch and brunch menu. There is a focus on single-vineyard wines such as Pinot Noir, Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah, and Cabernet Franc. They specialize in simple winemaking that is committed to altering as little of the vines as possible to bring out their natural taste. When you come here, you will be able to enjoy their wines with their well-appointed meals.
Fasi Estate Winery
Rounding up our list of recommended wineries in the Madera Wine Trail is the Fasi Estate Winery. According to its founder, they are more committed to producing quality over quantity. It is reflected in their famous wines that taste high-end, equally matching its superb setting. They are best known for the Fasi Argentina wines that reflect the owner’s passion for producing amazing wines.
The Elderberry House Restaurant
If you’re looking for excellent quality meals in this region, head over to The Elderberry House Restaurant. It’s described as offering an epic dining experience and there is nothing sensational about that. The team behind this restaurant use local, organic, and seasonal ingredients to ensure quality and freshness. All of these ingredients are sourced from the nearby Central Valley farms so you can literally get a taste of the region’s produce. This multi-awarded restaurant has been around for three decades. It is located roughly 20 minutes from the Southern gate of the Yosemite National Park.
South Gate Brewing Company
Cap off your Yosemite road trip experience with a visit to the South Gate Brewing Company. Located at the foothills of Sierra Nevada, thousands of tourists visit this every year, especially those looking to sample the finest local beers. Aside from the craft beers, they have an array of dishes to choose from. They specialize in the pastured meats and local produce to make the perfect pairing with their local beers.