We have been to a number of beautiful places so far on our 59 National Park journey. Honeymoon Beach at Virgin Islands National Park. Abrams Falls at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Cadillac Mountain at Acadia National Park. Avalanche Lake at Glacier National Park. Mount McKinley at Denali National Park. We could add many more places to this list. After visiting the Yosemite Valley at Yosemite National Park we are convinced it is the most beautiful place in America.
Just before the tunnel that takes park visitors to the Yosemite Valley, there is a turn out that allows visitors the initial view. The first day we went we were rewarded with this vista. Immediately, we understood what all of the fuss was about.
We stopped after the tunnel too.
The Valley itself is pretty small and that is the beauty of it. All of the well known features such as El Capitan, Sentinel Dome and Half Dome rise up immediately from Yosemite Valley floor. It allows park visitors the chance to get up close to the famous landmarks.
Yosemite is a busy park averaging four to five million visitors a year. Rarely where we alone. It is, however, possible to find solitude at the park. We discovered this fantastic meadow view of Half Dome just a few yards from the main visitor center. We had the place to ourselves.
The walls in Yosemite Valley are foreboding and beautiful. We were careful to enjoy and capture as much as the Valley as we could. We went everyday of our four day visit.
We recommend that everyone take the time to drive to the Glacier Point area at Yosemite National Park. It is a sixteen mile trip up a narrow, winding road. It is worth every mile. From Glacier Point, expect a stunning view of Half Dome and the associated Sierra Nevada peaks and waterfalls.
The Sierra seemed to stretch on forever.
One of the great things about the Yosemite Valley is that it is in constant flux. Everyday we had a different view.
Yosemite National Park does have its challenges. The heavy visitation put stress on the roads and available services. The California drought threatens park wildlife. Waterfalls were either dry or just at a trickle. The Sequoia Grove at Mariposa is so threatened that park administration is closing it for two years for a remake that will ultimately limit access.
Despite the challenges at Yosemite, we understand its popularity. People from all over the world will continue to flood into the park because of views like this:
We know there are those that will point to other places in America which have more merit than the Yosemite Valley. We welcome that. Leave your comments below. We also know that at this point in our journey we still have 21 National Parks to visit. We may have to revise our title to “The Second Most Beautiful Place in America”. Given what we saw and experienced in the land of Muir and Adams, we doubt it.