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The Most Beautiful Place in America

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.

Yosemite National Park

First View

We stopped after the tunnel too.

Yosemite National Park

View From the Tunnel

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 National Park

Valley View of Half Dome

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.

Yosemite National Park

River View of Half Dome

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.

Yosemite National Park

Valley Wall

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.

Yosemite National Park

Half Dome From Glacier Point

The Sierra seemed to stretch on forever.

Yosemite National Park

Liberty Cap

Yosemite National Park

Panoramic View

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

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:

Yosemite National Park

Parting Shot

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.



5 thoughts on “The Most Beautiful Place in America

  1. I think the Valley is beautiful, arguably the most beautiful.

    However, I think the views and scenery are ruined by over development. Standing in Yosemite Valley at night should be magical but instead it is interrupted by lights in all directions. Day times are worse.

    I am glad the grove is shutting down and wish they would close or limit access in other places as well. We have all failed in caring for our National Park.

    Most people disagree but unless we find a way to ease the stress on Yosemite Valley, I do not think it will be “The Most Beautiful Place in America” for much longer.

    Ansel Adams Wilderness, next door to Yosemite, is spectacular and provides awesome views into Yosemite. Best backpack ever.

    Really, most of this country is truly amazing!

  2. With 21 left to go you’re going out on a limb – but probably not too far. You do need to schedule Yosemite in the late spring though. This is the first time I’ve seen Bridal Veil Falls nearly dry. I’m sure it isn’t the first time it’s happened but it’s still a bit of shock.

  3. Wow, beautiful! It looks like a national park you would need more than a weekend to fully explore. Is rock climbing allowed in Yosemite? It’s too bad the water levels weren’t higher, I’m sure the waterfalls would have been wonderful to see. Can’t wait to see some other parks you visit, I’m very jealous!

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