Hello and welcome to my article on Yosemite National Park! My name is Dominic DiFilippo. I grew up in Delran, New Jersey – 20 minutes away from Philadelphia. This past year, I moved from Philadelphia to the Bay Area.
Ever since I can remember, I have been surrounded by photography. My father always had a camera in his hand. So I guess I got that from him. Landscape photography has fascinated me for years now and so a big reason why I wanted to move out West was to be closer to national parks.
Firefall at Yosemite National Park
Recently, I wanted to visit Yosemite to see the famous Firefall. It had been a dream of mine to see it in person. I live about four hours away from Yosemite and so I didn’t mind driving that far to see such a beautiful place. First we saw the sunrise at Yosemite Valley View with snow and fog (a photographer’s dream) and later that day we caught the sunset at Firefall.
This waterfall that looks like fire at sunset only happens at certain times of the year. The conditions have to be just right in order for you to see it and luckily mother nature put on a show for us on that particular day. I was also lucky to catch Firefall a few times during the season. If you haven’t seen it yet – I highly recommend going to see it. It’s an incredible experience!
Why I love Yosemite National Park
Not only do I love Yosemite because of Firefall but also because of its diverse range of experiences. It has something for everyone. If you are not a fan of hiking, you will be able to see the most amazing views by driving along the valley. For the avid hiker, there are so many hikes that it will keep you busy for weeks! You can even take cables up to Half Dome.
My favorite place in Yosemite is Yosemite Valley View. Seeing El Capitan up close and Half Dome in the distance should be on everyone’s bucket list! However, I never seem to get a shot I like from that part of the park. For me, the best views can be found from above at Glacier Point. One of my favorite hikes is Taft Point. You get amazing panoramic views of the valley.
Top 5 Things To Do in Yosemite National Park
- Drive into the park through Tunnel View: One of the most breathtaking views I have ever seen. This scenic viewpoint is situated on State Route 41. I especially recommend this if it’s your first time visiting.
- See Vernal Falls on Mist Trail: For those who love waterfalls, Vernal Falls is a must-see destination. The hike can get tough but it’s worth it!
- Visit Glacier Point: Drive up to Glacier Point to see beautiful panoramic views of the valley, El Capitan and Half Dome. A great spot for sunrise.
- Hike to Sentinel Dome and Taft Point (Sunrise): A fairly easy hike of just over two miles round trip. This gives you the chance to see the valley, El Capitan, Half Dome and watch the sunrise from Taft Point.
- Cruise around the Valley: What is great about Yosemite National Park is that if you are not a huge hiker you have the ability to drive around the valley and stop to see El Capitan, Yosemite Falls, Bridalveil Fall, etc.
Where to Stay at the National Park
There are plenty of hotels in and around the park. I have personally stayed in a decent amount of hotels around Yosemite but my go-to place is Yosemite View Lodge. It’s right outside the park entrance, probably a 30 minute drive I would say. There are also beautiful options inside the park.
Other Places to Visit near Yosemite
If you are planning a trip to Yosemite National Park in summer or spring and are in need of some additional stops on your itinerary I would stop in Mammoth Lakes and Bishop. You can drive east through Yosemite on Tioga Road and it will drop you right in the Mammoth Lakes area. Unfortunately, this is not possible in winter as Tioga Road is closed then.
Need to Know Before you Go
Make sure you take plenty of photos – whether it’s with your cell phone or DSLR camera. You will thank yourself later. Also, download offline maps with Google Maps prior to driving into the park. You may have spotty cell phone reception and this will save you a headache. Bring plenty of snacks and water and watch the documentary Free Solo for inspiration!