In this episode we are is taking you to one of the country’s most iconic national parks – Yosemite National Park located in the central Sierra Nevada region of California. The gem of California boasts towering granite cliffs, gorgeous tall waterfalls, and bear wildlife spotting! We’ve been to this park several times and have a different experience each time. It’s a beautiful park with plenty to see equally without hiking and through Half Dome, one of the hardest and longest permitted hikes not for the faint of heart. In this episode we share the waterfall hikes we did, where to stay in Yosemite National Park, and the best time of year to visit for open trails and chances of spotty old Smoky.
Tips for Visiting Yosemite National Park:
- Download offline maps
- Get to the park early
- Wear layers
- Wear hiking boots – lots of granite rocks, near the falls can be slippery
- Pack plenty of water
- Visit in shoulder seasons
- Bring crampons
- Waterfalls are best in spring/early summer
- May need entrance reservations
- Some of the roads close in the winter (October- May/June)
We’ve taken this trip many times from Sacramento, CA which is just a three hour drive into the park. We have also drove up and taken this trip from San Diego to Yosemite which makes for a nice long road trip in.
There are hiking trails in Yosemite for all skill and accessibility levels. We call this one of the best national parks to visit for sightseeing because you can see a lot of the waterfalls and impressive cliffs from the road. It’s equally as amazing for the hiking trails in Yosemite that ascend to high peaks and overlooks.
Hiking Trails in Yosemite with Waterfalls
The Mist Trail (7 mi) – Takes you to Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls. This trail might be partially closed during winter and spring seasons due to snow and ice blocking the path.
Wapama Falls (2.5 mi) – Longest of the two waterfalls on the northern wall of Hetch Hetchy Valley. Bring a rain jacket to avoid the mist!
Yosemite Falls (7 mi) – It’s a waterfall so high it has to take a break and rest twice in the course of its descent. It’s a 2,425 foot tumbler, tallest in North America and fifth tallest in the solar system. Ten times taller than Niagara or Shoshone Falls, nearly twice as tall as the Empire State Building. The lower fall, which you’ll be seeing up close on this hike, is the shortest section of the fall, but it’s still 320 feet (98 meters) high. Tip: Stand at the base of the falls for a great photo.
If you can extend your trip, also consider visiting Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks which are just a short drive from Yosemite. They are vastly different parks with Sequoia and Kings Canyon having gerthy, towering red trees that make you feel like tiny ants next to them.
Yosemite Hiking – Episode Transcript
Welcome to the Travel Squad Podcast.
We adventure the world together, one passport stamp at a time.
We’re here to share travel news, tips and our own adventures with you.
Every travel Tuesday, we share stories on a variety of topics, including our hometown, San Diego, Hiking,
Weekenders, national Parks, international getaways,
And inspiring you to go on your own adventures, even if it starts with your own backyard. I’m Jamal
Brittany. And I’m Kim.
We’re the Travel,
Podcast. So grab your ticket and your passport and
Don’t forget your travel insurance
And prepare for takeoff.
Welcome to this week’s episode of the Travel Squad Podcast. Today we are bringing you to Yosemite National Park for an adventure in one of the most amazing places in California.
1 (1m 9s):
Yosemite is a California National Park gem. We all grew up in Northern California and I actually went to Yosemite quite often as I grew up. And it never gets old. There’s just so much to see and do and every time you go back there’s another area to explore or to learn about. So you can spend a week, two weeks, or longer in Yosemite and do something different every single day.
3 (1m 29s):
I dare say Yosemite is probably one of the top 10 national parks in the us. It might even be higher, but I’m giving that 10 scale is a little bit of buffer, you know, cause there is some competition and people do have their favorites, but Yosemite is just so iconic with its grand, granite, cliffs towering, thousand plus feet, high half Dome the waterfalls and Brittany is right. We all grew up in Northern California. I’ve been to Yosemite many, many times. But it’s one of those things that you appreciated a lot more when you’re older and can enjoy that scenic beauty. And I can’t even believe we’ve made it this far without having a Yosemite episode.
2 (2m 7s):
I actually did not go to Yosemite when we lived in Northern California. My first and only time I’ve been, I was going back up there for a wedding and decided to spend an extra day to go out there. And I feel like I was a little bit robbed of my experience. I mean, I saw some good stuff when I was there, but the person I went with just, you know, was it the best travel buddy? I’ll
3 (2m 30s):
Say, well, I’ll tell you what, Kim, we’ve said this many times before. There’s so many more hikes that Brittanie has on her to-do list. I know half dos on it. We’ve talked in previous episodes about you saying you’re not really gonna do half Dome, but we’ll do a Squad trip one time when we’re not doing half Dome. You won’t be with that person, you’ll be with the cool Squad us and we’re gonna kill it out
2 (2m 50s):
There. That’ll be much better.
1 (2m 51s):
So let’s dive right on into this episode. As always, we’re gonna start off with the tip
3 (2m 56s):
2 (2m 57s):
Tips, and this one we say every time. And that is to download offline maps. But that is so important in this park because there is no cell phone service here.
1 (3m 6s):
None. None at all. There’s no phone service even getting close to the park even at times. So make sure to have those downloaded offline maps in advance to cover the whole area. So if you need to route to anything in that area, including your hotel or to a trail head, you can go ahead and get
3 (3m 22s):
There. Tip number two is get to the park early. And the reason why we say this is twofold. One in the morning you’re more prone to see wildlife because they’re out and about and waking up for the day. And secondly, you really beat the crowds coming into the park. I mean, I can’t tell you how many times we’ve done trails, there’s people on it, but we do feel a good sense of isolation. And then on our way down is when we start seeing the crowds. And I can’t even believe people are starting these hikes midday. So you do want to go ahead and beat the rush that way and get to the park early.
1 (3m 54s):
Another tip that we have for you is to wear layers, especially when you’re going in shoulder seasons. It may be really cold in the morning and in the afternoon and at night, but during midday and afternoon it can get quite hot. So you’re gonna wanna wear some layers to pull off.
2 (4m 10s):
And then going on with the wardrobe, you want to wear Hiking boots that have really good grip. There’s a lot of granite rocks in this park. And so it can be really slippery in the springtime when things are really wet or even because there’s still snow in the springtime
3 (4m 25s):
That, and there’s lots of waterfalls. So even if you’re not there in the springtime, you’re gonna have the mis splash up. The rocks are gonna be slick and slippery. So you do want something with that good bit of grip. And I guess talking about water, the slush, the waterfalls, kind of keeping with the same theme pack plenty of water. You’re definitely gonna need it on the Hiking trails. And again, even though you are in the mountains during summer, if that happens to be when you go, it does get warm and you’re gonna want that.
1 (4m 51s):
Also. We were talking about what to bring, what to wear, make sure to bring crampons, especially in the shoulder seasons spring, there still may be snow on the ground or at the top of peaks. And so you’re gonna want that just as an extra safety net.
2 (5m 4s):
Crampons are essentially like chains for tires, but for your Hiking boots that make it easier to go in the snow.
1 (5m 10s):
Kim, what was the other term that one of your friends used to describe crampons?
3 (5m 14s):
They were ice cleats, wasn’t it? Ice
2 (5m 16s):
3 (5m 16s):
Yes. Yeah, I remember that. I, I’m glad you actually brought that up. Cause I was gonna say we need to mention another name other than crampons because people you went to to a snowy area had no clue what the hell you were talking about. So Crampons, ice cleats, whatever you wanna call ’em. But they’re basically, like you said, hikes chains for your shoes. You need them when you’re Hiking in the snow.
2 (5m 35s):
The ones that I got are really easy to put on. You just kind of put ’em on right over your shoes. You can do it in under 10 seconds. And so we’ll link those in our Amazon storefront in our Hiking products list so you guys can get those ones too.
1 (5m 48s):
Also, another tip for you guys in the summer, you may need to have entrance reservations. That is to enter the park. I know for the year 2022, they were required starting in May and I wanna say that they were requiring them through August or September. And so that is for you to actually even enter the park. And that doesn’t include the price you pay to enter the park.
3 (6m 10s):
So you need those reservations during the busy season. Again, that may through August, September, whatever you said. And they do change that seasonally I guess, depending on how much traffic is coming into the park. But keeping with that theme about seasons, some roads into Yosemite are closed during certain times of the year, mainly winter. So from October to May and sometimes even June, depending on how much snow Yosemite got that year. A very famous road into the park, Tioga Pass is closed. So do keep that in mind. Lots of roads in and out of the park can be closed depending on the season because of the weather and snow.
1 (6m 46s):
Toga pass is what connects Yosemite Valley to Mammoth. And so during the winter months, there’s no way to connect the two directly together. You have to go up and around. And so just keep that in mind if you’re in Mammoth and going to Yosemite or Yosemite going to Mammoth. And while we’re talking about the seasons, waterfalls are best to see in spring or early summer in this national park, they do kind of dry up towards late summer and fall
2 (7m 12s):
And the waterfalls are one of the biggest draws of this park. So you’ll definitely wanna see them when they’re gushing. All right, so before we get into what to do in this park, we want to tell you where to stay in Yosemite, National, Park. And there are several different options I found difficult to find one that was low cost. So you can kind of expect that, but the farther you get outside of the park, the more affordable it will get. There’s one really, really cool stay that I really wanted to do but didn’t get the chance to yet. And that is Yosemite Pines. And this is located in the Groveland area. You get to stay in covered wagons, like think back to discovering the Old West and the Oregon Trail Gold trail
3 (7m 53s):
Or Gold rush.
2 (7m 55s):
The gold rush. Yes, like legit covered wagons. These are really cool. It’s like a glamping type experience. Jamal will never do it cuz there’s no private bathrooms.
3 (8m 5s):
I did not want to do it because of that. And I’m glad you brought that up. Brittanie mentioned this on the last time that we went to Yosemite, do we want to stay at these covered wagon hotels? And I asked her, does it have a restroom? And you know this is coming off just going to Vita Guadalupe staying in the bubble hotel and it even had a personal private bathroom in the bubble hotel. So I said to myself, you know, this time I, I really don’t wanna do it. I don’t really wanna have to wake up and actually go outside to use the restroom. I’m not saying I won’t do it one day, but this time on that trip I wasn’t feeling it.
1 (8m 36s):
Yeah. But it does look like a really cool stay. I’d be interested in trying that out in the future. And it actually wasn’t as expensive as I thought it was gonna be. When I looked at the dates, which were for late April, they were ranging about $250 for a night. So it wasn’t terrible, terrible. But we did stay in Groveland, which is is where this was. We just stayed at the Groveland Hotel and this was a very old but historic building and it was very personalized and we got a complimentary drink at their bar. Ooh.
3 (9m 7s):
Oh yeah. Like when we checked in, I could have sworn I heard her say Hotel guests get free drinks. And when she said drinks and it was plural, I was like, oh. But I thought to myself, no that can’t be true. I don’t wanna ask and sound like an idiot. So once we got our key and went upstairs, I asked Brittanie, I said, did you hear her say free drinks? And she said, yeah, I thought she did too. So we went down to the bar afterwards and they said, yeah, you get a complimentary drink, which is still pretty, pretty good. And I really like this hotel. It is. And a historic building like Brittanie said, I don’t think there’s more than really eight rooms. Yeah. So during peak season you may not even be able to find reservations, but I mean this hotel is literally from the 18 hundreds and they have a restaurant and bar downstairs.
3 (9m 48s):
They even had an outdoor patio area, which was really cool. Live band. They have live music. So after a day in the park, I think this is a really cool hotel and fits with that theme and the western theme that you’re talking about with the covered wagons, gold rush, everything like that. And it just fits perfectly into the area of Yosemite.
2 (10m 5s):
The time that I visited, I stayed in a little town called El Portal and this is located just outside of the park. I wanted to stay as close to the park as possible but without paying in park fees for the stay. This was the Cedar Lodge. It’s a pretty decent spot. They had several rooms, I would say, you know your standard hotel, large amount of rooms. It did have a bar and restaurant with your typical bar food. Nothing crazy. There really isn’t a lot of restaurants or anything else nearby. So if you’re not gonna eat at that hotel restaurant, then you really should bring your own food or plan to drive pretty far. I thought this was a fine place to stay. I mean no frills but a decent price. The one thing though I will say is just be prepared that there is no cell phone service and there is no free wifi.
1 (10m 49s):
You have to pay for it. Right. Because this is one of the places I originally looked at and I was like, I have to pay for wifi. Mm I’m gonna pass.
2 (10m 57s):
Yeah, very weird.
3 (10m 58s):
Well that and there was only the one place to eat and that’s why we actually ended up choosing Groveland further away from the park. But we’re like, okay, well if we stay here we’re gonna have to go to Groveland anyway to get food and other stuff and then come back. So that’s why we chose that. But I did like that location when we drove by it, it looked really beautiful and we’re like, oh that’s the hotel we were gonna choose and that Kim stayed at. So it is very nice and quaint and very rustic and I did like that another place to stay around the park is gonna be in the city of Mariposa. Not this last time that Brit and I went, but the time before that we stayed in Mariposa. It’s a nice little hillside mountain town and they do have a lot of mom and pop shops and I mean that in a really, really good way. You feel like you’re in the middle of civilization but not too civilized and it still keeps that rustic charm.
3 (11m 44s):
And then also the city of Oakhurst kind of same thing as Mariposa, right? Those are gonna be the two most major cities, if you will, or towns that are gonna be be close to the park and populated. Anything closer is gonna be a little bit more isolated. Like we were talking about that Cedar Lodge area and El portal or even in Groveland it was a little bit more populated but still very, very small.
2 (12m 5s):
All right, so let’s get into some of the main attractions in Yosemite National Park.
1 (12m 9s):
I mean we already mentioned that Yosemite is paying for its giant Sequoia trees. The tunnel view, the waterfalls especially, that’s why I go, Jamal always makes fun of me cuz I will plan trips specifically around waterfalls of course. But they’re so beautiful. I just love seeing them in the, just like all of their majestic glory after snow melt and they’re just gushing down.
3 (12m 31s):
You know, I give you crap about scheduling trips and planning trips around waterfalls because we’ve been to Yosemite and here are the best waterfalls. I mean you can go somewhere else and they’re still nice. I mean they’re always impressive no doubt. But here in Yosemite they’re just grand. I mean you have Yosemite Falls, it’s the tallest Waterfall in North America. They have bridal falls, other falls that you’re gonna come across along very, very famous trails. Vernal falls, Nevada Falls. So I mean when you’re talking about waterfalls, Yosemite is the place for, and that’s why I kind of give you crap on the other places.
2 (13m 3s):
So would you say then you see Yosemite, you don’t need to see something like Victoria Falls?
3 (13m 9s):
Well that’s completely different. I mean we’re talking like Africa and like safari and there’s lions around, but I’m talking about within America. Okay, Alaska may be a little bit different and even I’ve been to Niagara Falls and Niagara Falls is cool, but I feel like just because you’re in nature, the waterfalls here cooler than Niagara. I’m just gonna come out and say it. That’s my Okay. But you mentioned the tunnel view. Why don’t you talk about the tunnel view Brittanie? Cuz I don’t wanna bypass that tunnel views. One of my favorite things about Yosemite.
1 (13m 36s):
Yeah, so if you enter Yosemite from the south, let’s say you’re coming from Fresno or Oakhurst of that area, you’re gonna go up through the park and one of the roads that gets you there is called tunnel view road. And you do go through a tunnel and then once you exit the tunnel, you are just entering just the amazing Yosemite Valley with spectacular views. I think you can see bridal Villa falls in the distance and there is a parking lot to the left hand side for you to pull over and get some really good scenic landscape shots.
3 (14m 8s):
I mean it’s great. I think it is California Highway 41 that comes from Fresno, correct? Brittany?
1 (14m 13s):
3 (14m 14s):
Is. And so just imagine you’re coming up to a mountain and the road through it is a tunnel. It’s several thousand feet long and then once you hit that daylight boom, bam, it is just the Yosemite Valley and it’s so awesome. And quite honestly, if you enter the park through another way, it’s really, you know, you’re gonna see the valley, it’s gonna be pretty, but I think that tunnel view coming in that way is just exceptional.
2 (14m 37s):
Okay. So getting into Hiking trails, I think one of the most popular trails in Yosemite is the missed trail. This one’s about seven miles and there’s several different waterfalls you can see along this trail. So if you don’t wanna do the full seven miles, you can see some of them and turn back. And in fact, if you go in the earlier spring or winter months, you may not even be able to get fully through the trail.
1 (15m 0s):
Yeah, because of the waterfalls, there’s a lot of ice and slush and water runoff so it could close the trail or make it unsafe. So Jamal and I did it in 2020 for his birthday, but Kim’s also done this trail too. Kim. Did you do both Vernal falls and Nevada falls?
2 (15m 16s):
Yes, we went up and saw both of the falls and then you know, came on back.
3 (15m 19s):
Was this before 30 or after 30 Kim? Because you talked about you can just kind of go up and turn around and make it a little out and back or did you do the full seven and do the loop?
2 (15m 29s):
I don’t know if we actually did the full, but this was the trail where I saw a bear.
1 (15m 35s):
Oh wow. What part of the trail did you see it on?
2 (15m 38s):
In the very beginning when it’s like flat, you know,
3 (15m 40s):
Kind of by the parking lot as you’re coming up in the campground area,
2 (15m 43s):
It wasn’t even that far. I was walking along the trail, there were people coming back from the other side of the trail staring and taking pictures into the side of the trail and we were looking, trying to see what are they looking at? Couldn’t see anything. And then as soon as we get past bam bam, a bear sprints out from behind us, like two feet from me pretty much to the other side of the trail. Then starts digging around for food, totally minding its own business.
1 (16m 8s):
That’s awesome. We didn’t see when, while we were on the trail, but while we were looking for parking, we passed by a campground in the car and there was a bear walking through the
3 (16m 16s):
Campground. Well I think we had already found parking and we were starting to make our way to the trail because the parking lot for that trail was full. So we did like an overflow parking lot that’s kind of more by the campgrounds and yeah, the bear was just going through the campground just all casual. Everyone’s just kind of chilling, you know, I’ve told you before, you know, I’m not really too scared of black bears and don’t fuck around with them no doubt. But for the most part, if you see ’em, you shouldn’t really be scared. They’re just minding their own business.
2 (16m 40s):
I definitely screamed, but only because it was just like it just popped out. Popped
1 (16m 44s):
Out. Yeah. Well that’s amazing. So on the first Waterfall you’re gonna get to on this trail, it’s called Vernal Falls and it’s about a thousand feet in elevation gain to get to the top of it. And while you’re Hiking it, you have to go up a very steep granite stairway of like 600 steps. But that whole way up is just beautiful views of the Waterfall. It’s one where you, you get the first glimpse of the falls, you start to take pictures, then you go up a little bit more and you’re like, oh this is a better view. Gotta take some more pictures. And so you could be taking pictures the entire way up. And while we were Hiking it just during the time of day there was the sun was hitting the water perfectly. And so there was just a nice rainbow on it as well. And it made for a really good scenic shot.
3 (17m 25s):
You should really just Google mis trail Yosemite and see what we’re talking about. I mean these are granite steps that they have leading up to the Waterfall. And I think that’s one of the really coolest aspects of this trail is all the steps that they have and how it’s carved out of the true granite that they have there that’s, you know, known in the region for that matter. So really, really cool trail scenic wise all around even without the Waterfall.
2 (17m 48s):
I’ll do you one better, better go to Travel Squad Podcast dot com slash blog. We put all of our new episodes into blog posts with tons of pictures from the trip. So if you wanna see this staircase and mis trail, it’ll be right there waiting for
3 (18m 1s):
You. Even better than Google. And
1 (18m 3s):
Then when you get to the top of Ver Falls, you can actually get to the railing and look down and you can see the whole 317 foot Waterfall splashing down the side of the falls. It can be really crowded in the summer though, when we got to the top, there was quite a few people up there and there was actually an area where you’re not supposed to swim, but there were so many people swimming in that like area as well. It
3 (18m 26s):
Was a hot day,
1 (18m 26s):
It was a very hot
3 (18m 27s):
Day. They needed to bring the Rangers out there and enforce it though I’m not gonna lie. I mean if they tell you don’t swim international park, it’s for a reason. So kind of jacked, but you know
2 (18m 35s):
Psa. Thank you Jamal.
3 (18m 36s):
You’re very welcome.
1 (18m 38s):
Hey Travelers, let’s take a quick detour to talk all about our travel Itineraries that we’ve created just for you. We now have six different trip Itineraries. One week in Kauai,
2 (18m 49s):
An American Southwest Weekender road trip,
3 (18m 51s):
A weekend Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks,
1 (18m 54s):
A road trip adventure featuring all three of Washington state’s national parks,
3 (18m 59s):
Big Island Hawaii, and an Arizona road trip that features all three of Arizona’s national parks.
2 (19m 5s):
We are obsessed with these. These Itineraries are 20 to 30 page PDF guides with every detail of the trip laid out. We’re talking where to fly into the exact route to take, where to stay, park entrance prices, where to eat, and driving distance between attractions plus what things to see and do, even the hikes we recommend and their mileage and the time to allow for each one and so much more. We
1 (19m 26s):
Have story highlights on our Instagram at Travel Squad Podcast where you can see the full guides. We’ve done all of the research and have taken these exact trips, taking out all of the guesswork from the planning. So all that you have to do is show up and have
3 (19m 40s):
Fun. Purchase your comprehensive Travel Squad Podcast itinerary on our website at Travel Squad Podcast dot com. Best of all, they’re on sale right now for $30. So travel on over and get yours today. So continuing on from Vernal falls on the missed Trail. If you go a little bit further, you’re gonna come across another Waterfall Nevada Falls and you could say, how many do I really wanna see? But each one is more impressive than the last, quite honestly. And it just fits with the whole theme of what we’re talking about Yosemite, it’s just really known for having beautiful waterfalls.
2 (20m 11s):
I wanna say I went in 2018 and I went in March and I think it was like mid-March, I can’t remember exactly, but it was either Vernal Falls or right after Nevada Falls where the trail actually you could not go any further because of the snow. The trail was closed.
1 (20m 27s):
Oh it probably was right after Nevada Falls cuz at the top of Nevada Falls, that’s where you start the hike up to half Dome.
2 (20m 35s):
Yeah, I think that’s what it was. And so I would have done it Jamal, but I
3 (20m 39s):
Couldn’t Oh, okay. Weather related incident for you. Yes. Okay. I respect
1 (20m 43s):
It. But when you get to the top of Nevada Falls, there’s actually a footbridge that goes across the falls, which is really cool to see. When we went, we said again, we went in late July for Jamal’s birthday, right when we got to the top there started to be a little bit of a thunderstorm. Ooh. And that just like the noise of the thunder, you’re just kinda like, what? What’s going on? And then it just started pouring on
2 (21m 6s):
Us. That’s kind of cool.
3 (21m 8s):
It was actually really cool cause at that point we were really at the top and we can see views into the valley. So we, I don’t wanna say we were in the clouds, the clouds were a little bit higher, but it was that awesome ambiance about it. But it only lasted for about 10 minutes and then the sun was right back out and really hot that day. So the rain was a nice little cool down. And one thing that we didn’t mention in the tips, if you are gonna be doing these longer trails, do bring food with you in your backpack, banana, apple beef jerky. Get a pre-made sandwich from Subway or anywhere else for that matter and bring it with you. Because a lot of these hikes, you know, if you’re staying in the valley, it is what it is, it’s gonna be flat. But if you are actually going and doing hikes, like we said, they have granite wall peaks that are a thousand plus feet high.
3 (21m 53s):
So how much elevation do you think you’re really gonna be gaining on these trails and hikes a lot. So it is gonna be a burner, you do want to have food. So I just want to throw that in there as I’m reminiscing talking about this.
1 (22m 4s):
Yeah, to get to the top of Nevada Falls, it’s about 1900 feet in elevation gain and once you’re at the very top again I was talking about that foot bridge that you get to cross and from there you can look down and this Waterfall is like 594 feet, so lots of water gushing down side of these falls. You can also take the mistrial back or you can go down the John mural trail, which is the trail that we went down and it had really, really good views of Liberty cap and Nevada Falls. And so that was a really nice trail. It’s a little bit longer though in length than the mis trail.
3 (22m 39s):
Yeah. And that John Muer trail that Britney’s talking about, keep in mind we’re talking about the portion within Yosemite. If you were a real avid backpacker, you could take this trail and hike it even further south all the way to Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park, which is another 80 to a hundred miles further south in this Sierra Nevada. So it’s a very, very long trail. But just the continuation on from the mis trail down back into the valley.
1 (23m 2s):
And if you remember back quite a few episodes back with an episode we did with Hiking, with Brit where we had a guest on our podcast, she actually did this trail as well, but she did it in late fall. And she was saying that because she did it in late fall that these waterfalls were pretty dried up so they weren’t as impressive as everyone was making them out to be. But when we did it they were still pretty decent. And that was in late July. And Kim, you went in early March, April, did you feel like there was a lot of Waterfall flow?
2 (23m 33s):
Oh there was a lot, yeah. But again like the snow, so we recommended in the beginning May, June, I think that really is the sweet
1 (23m 40s):
Spot. Yeah. Where it’s not too icy. You can do the whole trail and have really good waterfalls.
3 (23m 45s):
Another epic hike that you could do in the area. Hello? Hello. Talking more waterfalls is going to be Yosemite Falls and this is the hike that Brit and I did on our more recent trip to Yosemite. And like I had already mentioned, Yosemite Falls is North America’s tallest Waterfall and cool fact, I don’t know what time of year it is. So I apologize for not having this information handy. It’s also known as the fire falls because the sun will be beaming down on it at a certain time of year during sunset. And it looks like the Waterfall literally is on fire. It’s a very famous thing to go into the park and actually see it during that time.
1 (24m 21s):
Yeah. So this Waterfall is 2,425 feet tall, crazy, crazy, crazy tall Jamal. And I stood at the base of this when we went for his birthday trip in late July. But at this time the Waterfall wasn’t gushing as much. This was like the one Waterfall I was like oh I’m probably the least impressed with. But you could see how large it was. And when we stood at the base of it, I told Jamal I wanna hike to the top during spring. And so during our last trip that’s exactly what we
3 (24m 52s):
Did. Well when you’re at the base of it also they actually have a miniature model of what the trail looks like. So we were looking at it, discussing it, saying hey next time we’re coming to Yosemite we’re doing this. And sure enough we did. But you mentioned it’s 2,425 feet tall. We had to climb 2,425 feet high just to get to it. As a matter of fact, I think higher, higher gets like a 3000 foot elevation game that you truly have for this Waterfall hike.
1 (25m 18s):
Yeah, this is 10 times taller than Niagara Falls. Wow. Double the Empire State Building like it is super, super tall and it is a burner. If you go to the base of the falls, you can still really enjoy it. You’ll get really good photo opportunities to hike to the top. It’s about seven miles and 3,200 feet in elevation game.
2 (25m 39s):
If you’re not into the burner hikes, you can see this falls from far away too. Like as you’re driving you can see it and then when you get to the base, obviously it’s extremely impressive. So if you’re going to the park with non hikers, this is a great thing to see in Yosemite National Park.
1 (25m 57s):
And also you don’t have to go all the way to the top. You can hike to different portions of the falls and still get really, really great views. We actually found that some of the best views were not from the top of this hike actually.
2 (26m 10s):
3 (26m 10s):
Yeah and I’m glad you mentioned that. So Squad tip for you guys, Brittanie and I, as we were talking about earlier, got to the park early, did this all to ourselves pretty much. I mean there were people on the trail but we had read things online that pretty much said once your three quarters of the way up and you can actually get views of the Waterfall at certain points on this trail, not just from the bottom but when you’re actually on your elevation gain, that’s really gonna be the best views that you have. And quite honestly that is the honest truth. If you go to the top, you can barely see the water actually like flowing over the granite Cliffs edge. You can actually see it but you get amazing views of Yosemite Valley from the top.
3 (26m 53s):
So that’s really the payoff is the views of Yosemite Valley and even the most iconic view of Yosemite Valley, which would be half Dome, you could barely see it only like a quarter of half Dome can you see from the summit of Yosemite Falls. So do it for the novelty and to say that you’ve done it and the view of Yosemite Valley, it’s great but the best views of the Waterfall are three quarters of the way up. If you don’t want to go to the top, once you can stop seeing the Waterfall from the incline, then I would say maybe that would be a good turnaround point for you if you don’t care about what I just talked about.
1 (27m 21s):
And you get full views of half Dome at the same time so you get like a two for half Dome to the right, the Waterfall to the left, that’s where you’re gonna get the best views. And while we were Hiking down, we kept hearing people, it was kinda like when we were on the Inca trail, we were like, everyone’s like moaning and groaning on your way up and we’re like on our way down we’re like haha sucks. And one group in particular was like, oh my god this sucks. Is it even gonna be worth it? So she stopped us and said honestly, are the views worth it from the top? And we’re like actually the best views if you’re going through the views are gonna be pretty close to here. And so they’re like okay we’re just gonna hike a little bit farther to get just those views but not make it to the actual top. But we did make it to the top.
1 (28m 3s):
And so I would say about 60% of the trail was not covered in snow but the very top third was covered in snow and we really did need our crampons. I feel like if we didn’t have them we would have been slipping and sliding quite a lot, bit more. It was very slushy and some parts were pretty steep as well. And so it was just nice to have the security of the crampons just feeling a little bit more secure and safe while we were doing that
3 (28m 29s):
Trek. There will be several points along this trail that you can actually see good views into the valley. You know obviously the higher you get the better it’s going to be and better views of the Waterfall. But again, if you don’t really wanna go all the way to the top like you were saying Kim, you can still get amazing views and it’s a nice hike. And honestly on our first half of the hike, do you remember when we came across the family, a deer just kind of migrating their way down the mountain and everything. So that was really cool. I mean you could definitely gonna see wildlife. We didn’t see a bear on this trip, which was disappointing. I would’ve loved to see another one. But they are there rest assured.
1 (28m 60s):
And then when you do get to the very, very top of this hike, if you make it up there, like Jamal said, there’s some really amazing views of the valley. But then we were like where’s the Waterfall? And so there’s actually a little side trail that will take you down these pretty steep steps and there’s this railing that you kind of have to hold onto and you can get to the top of the Waterfall and there’s gonna be some railing that you can look over and see the falls go down. That can be a little scary though. That little portion of the hike, it’s very, very narrow and parts of it are exposed. And so we were Hiking back up from it and someone had peeked their head around the corner and she goes, yep, that’s a no for me. And she was like, that’s a little too intense and she didn’t go down there.
3 (29m 39s):
If you did this one Kim I think you could have made it. I was a little, yeah, yeah I do think so. I know, I know you’re timid of heights but the point where it is kind of steep and you have to hold the rail if you were to fall, there’s the platform area where you actually have your overlook. So it’s not like it would be a fall to one’s demise.
2 (29m 58s):
You know it’s not a matter of if someone can do it or if I can do it, it’s a matter of enjoying life and the experiences that I’m putting myself
3 (30m 8s):
In and you wouldn’t enjoy it.
2 (30m 10s):
I don’t enjoy being anxious and heart racing and scared and having to repeat in my head, you got this, you got this, you got this. I just wanna be leisurely and look at pretty views and waterfalls.
3 (30m 21s):
I feel you on that. The good news is it’s only like a 2025 foot stretch where it’s like that. So not terrible.
2 (30m 27s):
You don’t have to, it’s not missing much.
3 (30m 28s):
Not missing much but you won’t get to that view area.
2 (30m 32s):
Good thing we have the pictures on our website. Yeah
1 (30m 35s):
So another really awesome Waterfall and this is kind of more hidden, it’s not in Yosemite Valley, it’s kind of in the outskirts of Yosemite, it’s called WPA Falls and this is in the hatch heady area. This area is very well known for backpacking and so it is a little bit farther to get to if you’re staying like near Yosemite Valley. But if you’re staying on like the outskirts like groveland, it’s not super far cause it’s on like the outskirts of that. But one thing to know and we Jamal and I found this out is that the day area, if you’re only gonna do day Hiking, it’s only open from eight to five.
3 (31m 11s):
Yeah the real hard on that gate entrance eight to five and we were locked out of it. So before we really get into W PMA falls, I kind of want to touch upon this. You did mention Brittanie, how this is kind of back country area, it’s not in Yosemite Valley. So when people think of Yosemite, the main iconic thing is Yosemite Valley. It’s that small little valley that was carved out by a glacier. That’s why you have those steep thousand plus foot high granite cliffs and walls. And it really is to be honest, a small area in the valley where most people are congregated. The trails from there do spread out in the valley. But WPA falls is in the Hetch Hitchy area, which you cannot get to from Yosemite Valley.
3 (31m 52s):
You have a complete,
1 (31m 52s):
Well you can get there if you wanna hike 40 miles.
3 (31m 55s):
Yeah by oh no big deal by car, you cannot get there from Yosemite Valley. But yes, thank you so much for that clarification. Brittany, if you’re an avid backpacker and back country person who wants to do it overnight, do that. I think that would actually be really, really fun. But separate entrance area by car, this is a damned up area. So there is a lake there and just a little tidbit of information that dam and all that water feeds into San Francisco. So the Hetch Hitchy area area is basically what keeps San Francisco alive with water all coming from Yosemite.
1 (32m 29s):
So as we were driving to OPA falls from the road, we could see it, we could see across the reservoir, we could see just like this huge Waterfall just coming down the side of it and we were, were super, super excited to be able to hike next to it. This hike is actually relatively flat. I I do say that it does go up and down. So there is a bit of an elevation gain when you add it all up about a thousand feet. But it felt very doable in comparison to the other hikes like mist falls or the top of Yosemite Falls. Yeah,
3 (32m 59s):
I wouldn’t even say a thousand feet in allegation elevation.
1 (33m 2s):
That’s what it said on all trails.
3 (33m 4s):
Well all trails I think may be leading us to stray. Maybe it was, but like you said, even if it was you don’t feel it that way because where you park to start this trail, the parking lot is at the very end of the dam. So you have to walk across the dam to go ahead and start the trail and once the dam is over then you have a tunnel that you walk through and then you have that little flat portion that goes along the lake before as you get closer to the waterfalls, there is the up, down, up, down. But very gradual to where you really don’t feel the incline like Britney was saying. Yeah.
1 (33m 37s):
And with PMA Falls is about a thousand feet tall so it’s pretty tall Waterfall and it just comes down the side of this cliff. There are these foot bridges at the very base and before you even get to the foot bridges you can feel the mist and the spray of the falls just on you. So much so that you are gonna want to have a light rain jacket. We actually put them on because it was just so misty, so wet. And then when we got on the footbridge, we were getting completely soaked. It would’ve looked like we showered if we didn’t have this rain jacket
3 (34m 8s):
On. Oh yeah, you definitely want to have the jacket here. This is where those layers come into play that we were talking about in the tips. I mean you’ll get soaked if you do not have a jacket in this area, but I really do like this area around the falls because you’re right Brittanie, they do have those foot bridges. So it makes it really, really cool, really scenic as you’re looking up to the Waterfall or even turning around and looking out at the
1 (34m 31s):
Lake, it’s really just the first foot bridge that gets to the what is, if you continue onto the other foot bridges, you still get really awesome views of what PMA falls and you’re not getting what. So those are probably some of the better photo opportunities. When we went, we got there right when it opened, we were entering the gates right at eight and so we were the first people on the trail and we came across some backpackers who were leaving and they said you guys are the first people we’ve come across today. So that was really cool to just like have it to ourselves for a bit
3 (34m 60s):
And kind of speaking about that and the backpackers were being real serious, eight to five before they close the gates. And if you aren’t backpacking or spending the night, they will lock that gate on you and you will be stuck in there. So they tell you leave the dam at around four 30, no later than that. Otherwise you’re gonna be locked in and either spinning the night in the car or making yourself a little makeshift Ford out there with the other backpackers and maybe it’ll share provisions with you if you come across them. Whew. Get out
1 (35m 29s):
By five, get out by five. Another thing about this Waterfall is when it’s really, really, really gushing when there’s heavy snow melt, it can actually be, the water could be running across these foot bridges and can be super dangerous and they won’t let you pass that. So just keep that in mind. That’s why we decided to go in late April cuz I guess in late March and early April, that’s when that could happen possibly. And then as you head back, the views are just really beautiful. You’re gonna be on the shore of the reservoir the entire time. There are other waterfalls along the trail and it’s just really, really nice. And so I do recommend this hike. I feel like it was off the beaten path at a Yosemite valley and it was just a little different than what we’ve experienced before in Yosemite.
1 (36m 15s):
So I would love to go back to Yosemite. I know Kim, we were talking about how your trip wasn’t the best there and you would probably go back as well, but there are so many other hikes. Did you, you know there’s always a half Dome, there’s clouds rest. There’s a beautiful lake called me Lake and it gives a really good reflection of the Granite Cliffs Center. Ooh. Would love to go see
2 (36m 36s):
I love that when you see a lake and you can see the reflection of the trees, the mountains, the cliffs, whatever it is. That’s a beautiful shot.
1 (36m 44s):
So I would love to go back with you and experience that.
2 (36m 46s):
Oh I would love to go with you YouTube Jamal. Well
3 (36m 49s):
Of course, thanks. Thank you. I don’t wanna be excluded on this one and you know, I know Brittanie mentioned Haum, I know you’re not gonna join us on that, but maybe you could join the first half into missed Falls Trail again. Yes. Because that’s the trail that you would take to veer off then to half Dome. But I know I mentioned this earlier and again I, I don’t really remember the dates but I do want to go back and look at the Yosemite Falls, fire falls Do yourself a favor. Quite honestly, you know, we haven’t been there during this time so we don’t have a photo to put up on our website for you to go look like the other ones. But Google Yosemite Falls, fire falls, it looks like lava coming from these granite peaks at the right time. So I just, beautiful, I wanna see it.
3 (37m 30s):
And Yosemite National Park is a park that I will always continue to go back to. I really do love it.
1 (37m 35s):
It looked like it happened in February of this year, from February 10th through 28th of 2022 is when you could see Yosemite Fire falls.
3 (37m 43s):
Well that time has passed so I guess around that same time in 2023. But I guess those were the dates that it was happening here in 2022. So you know, just look for when that’s gonna happen. They obviously know based off of astrological calculations or whatever and when it’s actually going to happen.
1 (37m 60s):
And then also, you know, we did talk a lot about hikes and some of them were pretty strenuous really just driving around the valley you’ll just have a lot of scenic beauty and you can get out, there’s a lot of rust stops and like areas to park and just get out and go through like the little meadows take some really great photos as we were even leaving the, the park and driving out. There were just a ton of people just parking and just taking really great scenic shots around sunset. So you can enjoy the park even if you’re not a hiker.
3 (38m 28s):
Yeah, and I was gonna say Tioga pass when it is open during non winter seasons would be a really good time to see more of the park that most people really don’t. Cause a lot of people stay in the valley. Togo Pass is gonna take you out of the valley through the mountains and again onto the Eastern slopes and even eastern Valleys of California and out. And there’s gonna be a lot of great overlooks in that area. So if you aren’t the hiker, that would be the time to go and do that. And I, I really can’t wait to do Tioga Pass cuz again most people really see only Yosemite Valley and that’s that small concentration area of where people are. But Yosemite is very, very large. A lot of it is just backcountry wilderness. So you’ll see most of that on the Tioga Pass Road.
1 (39m 10s):
Jamal and I have actually talked about it would be really cool cuz you know we love in southern California to go up to Yosemite Valley, then cross over Tioga path and then come home through like the mammoth passageway and just do like that huge loop.
2 (39m 25s):
3 (39m 25s):
Be nice. Go up on the Western Sierras and come down on the eastern side. And then when you come down on the eastern side further south, you can actually see Mount Whitney, which is the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States. That one’s in Sequoia. But it’s a whole Sierra Nevada mountain loop that you can do on the road when Tioga passes open. I think that would be absolutely epic.
2 (39m 45s):
There is a lot to do there. And now I just wanna move on to my favorite time of the week because we also have a lot of questions of the week this week. Oh
1 (39m 54s):
Yes we do.
2 (40m 2s):
Yosemite is a hot national park and you all have a lot of questions for us. So the first one is one that we’ve looked into quite a bit. They’re asking how do you get a half Dome permit?
1 (40m 12s):
So you actually have to apply for a permit, it’s a lottery system and so you have to go on recreation.gov. The application period is open for the entire month of March and then they release the results in mid-April to see if you’ve received them.
2 (40m 28s):
We’ve actually tried to get a half Dome permit before unsuccessfully, so it is pretty competitive. Looking back, I’m, I’m glad we did not get it.
3 (40m 38s):
You wouldn’t have made your way up the little chain and rope section there Kim you just stopped. I
2 (40m 43s):
Think I would’ve had to freak
1 (40m 44s):
Out. Kim would’ve
3 (40m 45s):
Had to freak out. You would’ve pulled a Jamal on how to freak out. Yes,
2 (40m 47s):
3 (40m 47s):
Sure. Okay, well respectable. I know somebody who got a half don permit was really excited to hike it and then that’s when the forest fires came in through Yosemite. So they closed the park for a good bit of time because of that. And I don’t think she’s gonna be going back anytime soon unfortunately. But she wasn’t able to secure her permit that she won and it’s very hard to get those. Everyone wants to do the half Dome hike except for Kim apparently.
1 (41m 11s):
You know, there are statistics online that show you’re gonna have better chances if you wanna book during the week or what time of year. The cables are open basically through, I wanna say Memorial Day to like the end of October-ish. So there is a good amount of time to do it during the summer. You can also try to do it like two days before your trip. They have another lottery system that you can apply to and you’ll find out like the day before if you can actually hike it or not.
2 (41m 37s):
Question number two goes along with question number one. Ryan asked us on Instagram if Havedo is scary. He said, can I do it?
3 (41m 45s):
Well, I don’t know. I guess that really depends. I mean Kim thought she could do it and then saw really what the cable chains look like. And I think the experience at Zion National Park and doing the chains over there has really done it for Kim. So I think it really depends on where your comfort factor is. Are you scared of heights? And again, like you were saying, talking about Yosemite Falls, you don’t want to have that anxious feeling. So if you’re okay with that and that’s not gonna bother you. I would say yes. Just do keep in mind this is a 16 mile round trip hike all the way from the valley to top of half Dome. And we were talking earlier about Vernal Falls. Nevada Falls, those are high elevations that you’re actually gonna be gaining and that is the start of the trail to half Dome.
3 (42m 25s):
There’s just a little offshoot that you would go with the opposite direction. So based off of how we kind of describe that and continuing to hike a little bit more, I’ll leave that up to you. I definitely do think it’s doable. People do it literally every day except for the days that it’s closed because of weather during the winter season. So I would say yes, just know what you’re getting into.
2 (42m 44s):
You can definitely go on YouTube and see videos of people. I think it looks scary when you’re looking at it from afar and seeing the people climb the chains, but the videos where they’re actually on the chains doesn’t look as scary when you’re in it. I think it’s scary because there’s a lot of people, it is pretty high up, so it’s for sure doable and And I think if you successfully do it or when you successfully do it, you’re not gonna regret it. You’re gonna love that you had that experience.
1 (43m 10s):
Yeah, everyone that I’ve talked to that has done it has said it’s been like one of the most amazing Hiking experiences they’ve ever had. So you know, Ryan, I hope that Jamal and I get to hike this one day and we can really let you know and if you happen to beat us to it, DM us and let us know how it was.
3 (43m 26s):
I hope we can convince Kim also. I hope so.
2 (43m 29s):
Maybe. Maybe. Who knows, things change
3 (43m 34s):
2 (43m 34s):
And moving on to question number three from Stella Stella’s asking, what were your favorite places to eat in Yosemite National Park?
1 (43m 42s):
You know, there’s not a ton of options cuz it’s pretty limited out there in the park. You either have to bring your own food into the park or within the park. There are some hotels and they do have some dining rooms. So the Awan Dining Room is a good place to eat at Yosemite Valley Lodge. Right outside of it, there’s a base Camp Eatery, which is more like a food court, so they have some options as well. And then there’s a Village girl,
2 (44m 8s):
Which I think the Village Grill, is that where there’s multiple places to eat. It’s the busiest part in the park,
1 (44m 15s):
2 (44m 15s):
Think. So I did go in there and I thought they had tons of food options. Obviously it comes with the price of being one of the only food places in the park, but there was a lot there. And if I didn’t already have things figured out, I would’ve eaten there.
1 (44m 28s):
And in Curry Village, they have a place to eat pizza and there’s a pavilion as well. So there are some food options in the park, but you’re limited to that.
3 (44m 37s):
So I know we didn’t eat any of the pizza there ladies on any of our trips, but let’s ask ourselves, do we think it’s gonna be better than what they had in Kings Canyon on that Easter trip one time for us?
2 (44m 46s):
Ooh, I think you need to play that by ear. I don’t trust any national park pizza anymore, which
3 (44m 51s):
Is a shame because yeah, that really disappointed me. But I’ve eaten in some of the bigger national parks that actually have these type of cafeterias and stuff, and the food for the most part is decent and pretty good. I don’t know what happened with us on that pizza that day. That was a major, major disappointment. So hopefully the Curry Village Pizza is gonna be better than the one that we had at Kings Canyon.
2 (45m 12s):
Question number four, coming in about lodging again, they’re asking where is the best lodging closest to Yosemite National Park.
1 (45m 19s):
Earlier we talked about a lot of places around Yosemite National Park, not necessarily within it, but there is a Yosemite Valley Lodge, which is right across from Yosemite Falls. This one is pretty pricey for the night, but super convenient, really close to the base Camp Eatery as well. And the Awan Hotel, that’s more of a splurge item. That’s if you’re really going all out, maybe your seller writing an anniversary or something really special. And then there are also glamping experiences within the park as well. But again, you probably won’t have any service, so if that’s not important to you, these are good places to
3 (45m 54s):
Stay. You know, the irony of us talking about there being no service, do you know the one place that we actually had service in the park,
2 (45m 60s):
The Village Eatery
3 (46m 2s):
Negative on the top of Yosemite Falls. It’s got some 5G action going on up there and that was about the extent of it. So unless you’re willing to track up 3000 plus feet, you’re not really going to have it. And do check and see if these lodges have wifi. I’m sure they do, if not all of them, some of them. But yeah, I’ve never stayed in a national park in one of these hotels. I’d like to do it, but at the same time it’s like, ugh. Yeah, I mean it’s a captive audience. I mean, you’re about to be spending 300 plus night for a hotel and I just can’t do that. You know? I’d rather have the drive if
2 (46m 29s):
You go into it knowing this is what I’m gonna pay. I’m expecting to do it, I’m on board with it. Then you know, special occasions are great for that. Right. Agreed. All right, squats. Thank you so much for tuning into our Yosemite episode this week. Keep the adventures going with us on TikTok now and Instagram at Travel Squad Podcast. And send us in your questions of the week.
3 (46m 50s):
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1 (47m 5s):
Stay tuned for next week’s episode. We have some more exciting adventures and tips in store for you.
3 (47m 9s):