We passed the night in Berkeley before heading to Yosemite National Park and we had to drive 3 hours and a half to go there.
And we all know that being up at 5am announce either a very wonderful day… or a terrible, horrible one. A day that begins at 5am cannot just be average.
So after inhaling our McBreakfast (Yes, we ate it so fast that I think it was pretty much inhaling), we drive our rental car to Yosemite. We were not sure that it was a good idea. The initial road trip was to just go from San Francisco to Los Angeles by Highway 1, like normal people do. But we wanted to see it all, ALL California! Which we didn’t anyway.
1. Three hours and a half drive from Berkeley to Yosemite.
2. Half the hike to Glacier Point (there’s a bus so you can be lazy and do just half of this 8 hours trek).
3. Take an amazing dinner outside the park talking about how in good shape we are.
4. Relax in our room in Mariposa.
We failed all those 4 steps.
First, I don’t know why I still trust the time given by Google Maps. Has this thing ever been accurate?
It took us five hours to get to Yosemite National Park. So we arrived at the east entrance around 11am (I know it makes 6 hours if you count from 5am. But damn the large coffee at McDonald is huge and well…I should have learned to never order anything large at McDonald).
Anyway, we thought that 11am was still early enough to walk four hours.
You can take the bus to go up to Glacier Point, but not to go down. It’s a chance we stopped at the information center before going, because we would have waited for the bus for a long time!
Talking to the park ranger, we also learned that there was a wildfire and that the South entrance to go to Mariposa was closed.
So, I passed an hour on the phone trying to cancel my reservation and find another room that was accessible. Thanks to booking.com for their highly effective customer service who refused to cancel my reservation because the hotel was still accessible by another road… that was just a three hours detour. We didn’t have the money to book an extra room and loose the money on this one, so we decided that we would take the detour.
It was then about 1pm when we arrived at the Yosemite village in the center of the park to begin the trek to Vernal Waterfall recommended as an alternative by the ranger. We then took another brilliant decision and chose not to have lunch and to start walking directly because it was late.
It was a hot day and we were already tired and after a while I started to see black dots and feel sick because I was too hungry. We stopped to eat some nuts and drink water. My partner wanted us to go back because I was not feeling good, but the day was going so bad that I at least wanted to see the waterfall. So we kept walking.
When you look on the internet for ”Vernal Waterfall”, you see something like this :
Photo by Andrew Wong (Creative Commons)
But currently, there’s a drought in California. So what we saw was this :
I know it’s not the same angle, but still… There was no F****** waterfall!
I was about to have a mental breakdown. I was hungry. I was thirsty. I was about to kill someone.
And the closest person was my partner, so he suggested that we should go back and not walk the rest of the path to go closer to ”the waterfall”.
Finally, we drove out of the park in the wildfire smoke to have a quick dinner to rescue our poor dying bodies, and took the three hours detour to arrive at the hotel disappointed, mad, and exhausted.
Would I recommend NOT to go to Yosemite National Park?
No. Of course not! I think my bad experience comes from bad organisation from us, and a lot of bad circumstances.
But some other people were there at another time and saw this :
Photo by Trey Ratcliff (Creative Commons)
And I think it worth it.
So here’s some advice.
How NOT to Have a Bad Day at Yosemite National Park
- Plan your trip ahead, using Yosemite website, or the Lonely Planet Yosemite, Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks.
- Ideally, book your room inside the park. You can bring your camping gear, or you can rent a camp unit that already has the necessary. If you prefer, there’s also a few hotels inside the park, but it’s expensive. No matter what your choice of lodging is, I assure you that it will save you a lot of stress and energy to stay inside the park for the night. Even if it wasn’t because of our misadventure with the wildfire, going out of the park from the village takes a minimum of one hour.
- When planning your trip, be sure to stay at least two days in the park. This way, you have time to get ready, and do the long trek on the second day.
- Bring more water than enough and bring food, not just nuts. Real food, like a sandwich or something.
- Contact the rangers in advance about the specific trail you plan to do. They will give you all the specific details about the trek you want to do and you won’t have to change your plan last-minute like we had to.
- Stop at the information center. You never know if something has change in the park, like a wildfire, a closed path, etc. (Be sure to ask about the waterfalls and non-waterfalls).
- If you plan do go in a U.S. National Park and you are a beginner like us, be ready : read about it, take advice, don’t pretend you are stronger than you are. We could have been really more miserable than we were.
If you want to read more post about California:
- What to Pack For California in Autumn
- California – My 10 Days Road Trip Itinerary
- Best Road Trip Songs to Drive Down Pacific Highway
- Monterey Aquarium: Please Don’t Flash the Octopus
- Los Angeles is Disney World on Crack
- Photo Essay: Alcatraz Prison
- What You Can See in One Say Walking in San Francisco
What do you think about our stupid decisions? Should the Vernal Waterall still be considered a fall? Did you already have a miserable day during your vacation?
This post contains affiliate links, meaning I may earn a commission if you make a reservation, at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products I use and love myself. Thank you for your support!
good to know, I would expect to find some “FALLS“as you were expecting… worst case next film yourself and this could be a great reality show!! :)
I think this reality show in this case could have been named “Looking for fall : The Amazing Race” or “Real life of disappointed people”.
I’m so sorry you didn’t get to enjoy the park the way it’s meant to be enjoyed… It is beautiful and it is grand… but certain times of the year are better than others. The falls are obviously best early spring — and normally dry up by mid summer. We just had several storms and the falls are bigger/fuller than they’ve been in ten years!!! And when you get to see them in all their glory — they are amazing!!! Hope you get a chance to come back one day :)
I believe you! And I am very willing to give Yosemite another chance! Ahah! I think it was just bad luck the first time.
Merci beaucoup pour tous ces conseils et votre transparence. J’espère que depuis ça va mieux. Nous profiterons clairement de vos conseils pour essayer d’avoir une meilleure expérience.
Je suis persuadée que vous aurez une meilleure expérience que moi! Bon voyage!