I'll admit, growing up I never truly appreciated Yosemite and all the beauty it has to offer: its tall granite cliffs, majestic waterfalls, giant sequoias, awe-inspiring views, the list goes on. My dad would take my family during the spring and summer - he'd drive us to Bridalveil and Yosemite Falls, lead us on the mile hike to Mirror Lake, and take us all over the mountains to the visit the most scenic spots for family pictures. But I don't think I started to acknowledge how amazing Yosemite was until I went on a weeklong camping trip there during college. Three years later, because Clay and I decided to take on this crazy camping once-a-month goal for the year, I finally got to return! And it seriously seemed even more beautiful to me this time :)
This was my first time staying at a campground outside of Yosemite Valley. Clay and I booked two sites at Wawona Campgrounds (#51 and 52). Wawona was great for our fairly large group and very spacious with plenty of trees providing shade. We were able to set up 5 tents, a hammock, a slackline, and (an overabundance of) camping chairs. My favorite thing about the site was the Merced River that ran alongside the campground. I loved being able to hear the sound of the running river and walk just a few steps from our campfire to see it. The only downside about the campsite was its location being farther away from Yosemite Valley (about a 50 minute drive), but we did get the big plus of having a quiet, peaceful site removed from the hustle and bustle of the valley.
What to do around Wawona Campground: Just a 10 minute drive away is the Wawona Swinging Bridge hike, where you can take a very short hike on a flat trail that leads to a small wooden suspension bridge and a family friendly swimming hole. Since it was the end of September, the water in the river was pretty cold. But I was just glad there was actually water there and that we went on a sunny afternoon. Another point of interest near Wawona is Chilnualna Falls, which requires an 8.4 mile round trip hike.
What to do away from Wawona Campground: One of the highlights of this trip for me was when some of us decided to visit Glacier Point in the middle of the night the first night we were there. It took us about an hour to drive in the dark on the windy roads to get there, but once we arrived, the view was stunning. I felt like I walked out of the car and straight into a black and white postcard of Yosemite. We were super lucky that that the full moon made it bright enough for us to see a panoramic view of Half Dome and the surrounding granite landscape. The next day we stopped by Tunnel View for lunch and drove down to the valley to hike the Mist Trail to Vernal Falls.
Clay ended up buying the Interagency Annual Pass so that we can go back to visit Yosemite this upcoming year and use it to cover the entrance fee to other national parks. Looking forward to some spontaneous day trips and maybe even a weekend of backpacking!
Just capturing as I go.