There are some places in the world that sink right into your soul. Yosemite National Park – like Yellowstone National Park – is such a place. It’s so majestic, so unearthly in beauty, that you can’t help but want to get right down on your knees. It’s no wonder that Abraham Lincoln signed the Yosemite Grant in 1864 to protect and preserve the space.
With an elevation range from 2,127 to 13,114 feet, the park features five different vegetation zones – which means you’ll see a wide variety of trees, flowers, plants, and wildlife. During our visit, we saw deer, a wolf, birds, and squirrels…but bears, bobcats, cougars, beavers, and owls also live here.
For our two-night trip, we stayed at The Redwoods in Yosemite, a company that operates over 130 vacation home rentals located inside of Yosemite National Park in the town of Wawona. That’s right! The rentals are INSIDE the South entrance. Each home is individually-owned and reflects that design tastes of the owner. Take your pick from a studio to a 6-bedroom cabin. Rates range from $220-$1010 per night, depending on square feet, number of rooms, and included amenities. This is an especially fantastic option for multigenerational or multi-family travel because you can all make memories together (and split the cost!).
On day one, we settled into our vacation rental and ate grilled corn-on-the-cob, french bread, and fruit salad for supper. On day two, we headed out early to see the sights. We hiked Bridalveil Fall Trail (0.5 miles), stopped to take pictures of Lower + Upper Yosemite Falls, marveled at El Capitan, exited and entered through the famous Tunnel View, splashed in Mirror Lake (2 mile hike to get there), and drove up to Glacier Point (drop-your-jaw views of Half Dome!). Lots of walking for little feet – but so worth it!
On day three, we spent at least half the day in Mariposa Grove, which contains about 500 mature giant sequoias. We were awed by the Grizzly Giant and the California Tunnel Tree (an ~0.8 milk hike to both)…and then the girls surprised up by hiking all the way to the Upper Grove and Museum (a very steep and strenuous 2-mile hike!).
That concluded our time at Yosemite National Park…but we can’t wait to go back again when the kids are a bit older! There are so many hiking trails and scenic vistas to explore!
- Pack good walking shoes for everyone in the family! This is a MUST. In order to experience Yosemite, you’ll need to get out of the car and hike to various falls, lakes, and lookout points.
- A stroller is a good idea for infants and toddlers. We were surprised that many of the paths were paved.
- Snacks, snacks, and more snacks! It’s not always easy to find food to munch on throughout the park. Plan ahead by bringing a backpack or cooler of fruit, pretzels, chips, crackers, nuts, sandwich or salad fixings, etc. Don’t forget paper plates and utensils.
- Be sure to hydrate before heading out to explore the park – and bring water with you as well.
- Sunscreen is a good idea, especially since you’re bound to spend most of the day out of doors. Bug spray might also be important since mosquitos buzz the parks for fresh blood – especially in areas with water.
- Check the weather before your visit and dress accordingly. Temperatures can vary widely, depending on elevation.
- You’ll want a full tank of gas for your visit. We stayed in Wawona (inside the park) and it was still a one-hour drive to Yosemite Valley and Glacier Point. Other places on the map were even further!
- The roads within YNP are VERY winding. If you and/or your child(ren) are prone to car sickness, take necessary precautions. Begin the drive on a full (but not stuffed) stomach. Sit in the front or in a seat with a good view of the road. Take breaks. Etc.
- Cost to get into Yosemite National Park is $20 per vehicle for a 7-day pass. Note that there are special discounts (or free access) for seniors, members of the military, people with disabilities, and those who choose to purchase an annual pass.
- If you’re staying at a vacation rental or lodge INSIDE the South entrance of the park, stop at Vons or Raley’s for groceries in Oakhurst (a pretty town about 45 minutes south of the south entrance). While you’re there, fill up your vehicle with gas. Gas and groceries are available inside the park, but selection is limited and prices are significantly higher.
Have you ever been to Yosemite National Park with kids? What travel tips would you add?
* Thanks to The Redwoods in Yosemite for hosting our stay.