We loved the giant sequoias at Mariposa Grove in Yosemite, but the giant redwoods with fern undergrowth, less crowds, and cool forest floor were more our speed. If you can see the giant sequoias, GO! But these coastal redwoods are worth a trip, too, and the banana slugs are worth seeing as well.
We left San Fran and headed north on highway 101. We stopped in Humboldt County at the Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Centers so the kids could see and put their feet in the Pacific Ocean for the first time. They had a ball. These were the biggest waves we had ever seen! We stayed for a little bit and let the kids roam around and play. After leaving we stopped at the Legend of Bigfoot store.
Bigfoot vs. Barefoot,
We had some interesting things happen along the way. The kids and I made fun of Chris the entire time because he is such a perfectionist and likes things a certain way. ca
We drove through San Fransisco because I just had to go across the Golden Gate Bridge. We really wanted to go to Alcatraz and Angel’s Island but we just did not have enough time plus money was an issue. So driving across Golden Gate was a must. San Fransisco was crowded and busy but pretty with all the sailboats. When we drove through the city Chris wanted to fly down the hilly road and bottom out like they do in the movies. I talked him out of that. After we got through San Fran we hit Highway 101 and went up the northern coast.
I hope you are singing the theme song to the “O.C.” and if not I bet you are now. If you have no idea what I’m talking about…where were you in the early 2000s?!
We arrived early at the southern part of Yosemite (Wawona area) in order to get a parking spot (we heard the lots filled up early.) We parked in an almost full lot then hopped on a shuttle that took us to Mariposa Grove of Gian Sequoias. No personal cars are allowed down this road anymore. We spent a day hiking the Guardians Loop which was about 6-7 miles round-trip. We saw many of the popular trees like the Clothespin Tree, Grizzly Giant, and Faithful Couple. We also got to see the famous Tunnel Tree which fell over so it’s now known as the Fallen Tunnel Tree. It was estimated to be 2,300 years old! I kept hearing pictures do not do the tree justice and it is so true!
The Mariposa Grove recently underwent a huge restoration. (There’s a video if you scroll near the bottom.) The paved roads through the grove were dug up to try and save root systems. We were glad it had opened back up by the time we got there (it opened June 15 and we were there the week after) because this hike was high up on our list to do.
We enjoyed this hike much better than hiking in the valley. The shortest loop nearest the front was crowded but as we hiked deeper into the forest there were fewer and fewer people.
We visited the Pioneer Visitor’s Center so I could stamp my National Park Passport and off we went to enjoy our last night in our Homeaway house.
Big trees and California,
Day one in Yosemite National Park consisted of driving through the rock arch, driving through the valley, hiking Mirror Lake, and seeing Half Dome.
Honestly, our family was not impressed with Yosemite. I know a lot of people love this place but to us it was way too crowded. At first, we had gotten a canvas tent at the Half Dome Village but then decided we really needed a place we could wash clothes and nothing else was available we wanted to pay for so we rented a house for a few nights. There we did laundry, cooked hamburgers on the grill, and enjoyed the hot tub all for the same price as staying inside Yosemite Park. Our stay might have been better if we had stayed inside the park to be close to everything but we enjoyed our home away from home.
The first day we hiked Mirror Lake along Tenaya Creek at the valley bottom. It was pretty but the lake was “dry” so there was no swimming/wading the kids had wanted to do. We checked out the Majestic Lodge and visitor’s center but the crowd was overwhelming. I did get to see the Yosemite Chapel. I wanted to go to the church service there but we overslept that Sunday and there was no way we could have made it. If we ever go back we will stay inside the park…IF we ever go back.
Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias up next,
You can read more about horseback riding with kids HERE. This is a video Chris shot using the action camera on our rim ride.
Angel’s Window is a natural arch. You can see the Colorado River through the window which is 6 miles away and 5,000 feet below. You can see part of the window in the above picture. There are people on top of the arch so when Chris saw that he just had to figure out how to get up there.
We drove down Cape Royal Road and visited several stops. One was Roosevelt Point, Walhalla Overlook, and Cape Royal point. Cliff Springs Trail was along this road as well. Ryan took a lot of pictures and Chris did a lot of climbing I did not approve of.
Ryan and I were standing at Cape Royal and overheard other visitors talking: “Look at those idiots” “Oh my, I would die if my husband did that” and “I can’t believe they did that” and my favorite: “How did they get up there?”
They were my idiots.
But it looks pretty bad,
P.S. North Rim > South Rim