Yosemite National Park: Losing the crowds

Arriving in Yosemite National Park is like stepping onto a film set. Lush green forests, thundering waterfalls, clear blue lakes and sandy beaches. It really does have it all. So, as a result, it’s obviously a huge draw to not just millions of tourists from all over the world, but also to people living in nearby San Francisco.

We’d heard that Yosemite valley, on the west of the park, gets really busy with day trippers. So we chose to enter the park from Tioga Pass in the east, which is only accessible in the summer months due to snow in the winter.

We opted to stay at Tuolumne Meadows Lodge, which has metal-framed canvas tents, as we weren’t travelling with our own camping equipment. (However there is a nearby campsite if you do have your own stuff.) The tents were simple, but cosy, with our own log burner to keep warm at night.

Yosemite National Park

It was weird to get used to all of the bear signs everywhere, warning us not to leave food or toiletries in our cars or tent, but to lock them securely away in bear boxes. Even stranger for someone who’s grown up in the UK – where the worst you have to worry about is annoying a cow when crossing a farmer’s field – was the set of instructions about how to scare a bear should you bump into one…

Yosemite National Park

We arrived at the camp in the afternoon and decided to take just a short hike to the granite-topped Lembert Dome. The walk up was easy and the views at the top, overlooking Tuolumne Meadows and an alpine forest, were amazing.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

It was also really quiet and after passing a few other hikers we soon found we had the whole place to ourselves…

Yosemite National Park

…which meant it was the perfect place for a proposal!

Yosemite National Park

Yes, this is where Mr A asked me to marry him, so I may be a little biased when I say this was my favourite place in Yosemite!

After the proposal we were joined by lots of cute animals, to the point that it felt a bit like a Disney film!

There’s no electricity at Tuolumne Meadows Lodge so in the evening we headed to a little dining room, where there was a set menu and family-style dining. High on the excitement of the day, we joined four very serious American walkers (“make sure you carb up”; “drink plenty of water to stay hydrated”) and a lovely Spanish couple on their honeymoon. A little old man played a keyboard in the corner and it really was the perfect end to the day.

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