Visiting Yosemite National Park

Guest Post By: Margie Miklas

Established in 1890 Yosemite National Park is one of the most visited of all the National parks, with over four million visitors in 2011. Covering 1169 square miles this UNESCO World Heritage site is the home of  waterfalls, giant sequoia trees, and elevations over 13,000 feet.

Yosemite Valley

Yosemite's peaks and valleys offer very different experiences and weather patterns; Yosemite Valley is one of the most popular and most crowded areas in the park. It is considered the heart of Yosemite even though it only covers seven square miles. To make things easier with traffic flow the park has free shuttle buses that you can take from the day use parking lot near Yosemite Village. The shuttle buses are great since they are the only way to access many areas which are closed to car traffic.

With the shuttle buses you can visit the Valley Visitor Center, Lower Yosemite Falls, Happy Isles, Mirror Lake, Tunnel View, and Bridalveil Fall.El Capitan, Yosemite National Park, California

High Country camping

In the higher elevations of Yosemite you can expect snow at any time, and some of the roads are closed due to weather so it is best to check ahead of time. One time on a whim we decided to drive from Las Vegas to Yosemite and camp. It is a seven hour drive and we arrived via the eastern entrance and Tioga Pass. It was late so we ended up camping in the high country. We pitched our tent and went to sleep, only to awaken in the middle of the night freezing. When we looked out it was snowing and we ended up sleeping in the car!

It was 110 degrees in Las Vegas and Death Valley and in less than 24 hours we were in freezing temperatures. Tioga Road and Glacier Road are usually closed due to snow until May or June and we were lucky the road was still open that morning. Yes the weather can change in a moment, and we were able to move to a lower elevation and enjoy the park.


Yosemite has over 20 waterfalls and they are gorgeous, although not all have water flowing all year round. Yosemite Falls, the nation's highest waterfall has a drop of 2425 feet and stops flowing in late August since it is totally fed by melting snow of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Its peak flows are in late may, and the falls start flowing again sometime in October.

Most areas require advance reservations for camping since Yosemite is such a popular destination. Five months ahead is the suggested time to make a reservation to get the campground of your choice.

Giant Sequoias

The Mariposa Grove is home to the giant California sequoias of Yosemite and some of these trees are 3000 years old. Near the south entrance of Yosemite, this grove has over 500 of these giant trees. From the parking lot there is a tram tour you can take to see more of the trees, or you can hike the 0.8 mile uphill trail to view the Grizzly Giant and California Tunnel Tree. The tram tour lasts about an hour and fifteen minutes and costs roughly $25.

Rock Climbing

Two of the other highlights in Yosemite National Park are not only beautiful but attractive to rock climbers. El Capitan or "The Chief" is considered to be the largest granite monolith in the world, and extremely challenging to mountain climbers. This is a sheer vertical wall of granite, measuring 3593 feet from its base to its summit, attracting climbers from all over the world.

The other giant rock is Half Dome, which is so huge it is larger than the Rock of Gibraltar. At 8842 feet high, the summit is typically 15 to 20 degrees cooler than Yosemite Valley. This also is quite a challenging climb.

Yosemite has much to offer and really requires several days to truly enjoy the park. It has been awhile since I have been to there and would love to go again soon, although this time probably not with a small tent.

Guest Post By: Margie Miklas

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Enjoying California’s Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

Guest Post By: Margie Miklas


California is home to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. These are two separate parks but are managed as one and named accordingly.  Sequoia National Park is the second oldest national park, created in 1890 by an Act of Congress. The only national park that is older is Yellowstone. Kings Canyon National Park was originally created the same year and was called General Grant National Park. Today these two parks are managed as one entity.


Much less crowded than Yosemite National Park, Sequoia and Kings Canyon are known for giant sequoia trees, narrow winding curvy roads with plenty of S-bends, spectacular views of the Sierra Mountains and Mt Whitney, and scenic waterfalls.

Tree Trunk Cut Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park, CaliforniaGiant Forest

General Sherman Tree Kings Canyon Sequoia National Park, CaliforniaRanked as the top attraction in these parks is the Giant Forest, located in Sequoia National Park. The Giant Forest   contains many of the largest sequoias in the world, all in the space of approximately three square miles. This is the home to one of the most popular attractions in the park, the General Sherman tree, which is the largest tree in the world. Its height is 275 feet and the tree has a circumference which measures over 100 feet.

Moro Rock

Another popular feature in this park is Moro Rock, a large granite dome not too far away from the Giant Forest. Rock climbing enthusiasts love to climb this rock and other visitors can reach the pinnacle the easier way by climbing the 350 winding steps from the parking lot. This one-third mile ascent will definitely challenge most tourists, but the panorama views from the top are breathtaking.Grizzly Falls Kings Canyon National Park, California

Trail of 100 Giants

In Long Meadow Grove there is a one mile loop trail, which you can walk and see 125 giant sequoias that exceed ten feet in diameter. There are 700 giant sequoia trees here that have smaller diameters but nevertheless are huge trees. This grove contains a tree which is 20 feet in diameter and 220 feet tall. The oldest trees in this grove are considered to be 1500 years old.  I recall it being a very humbling experience to be under these giant sequoias and looking up and all around.


Kings Canyon Scenic Byway


This 50 miles stretch of road is the only way to drive through Kings Canyon, one of the deepest canyons in America. It requires nerves of steel for all the switchbacks and winding sections of road but the views along the way are totally worth it. It begins at the Hume Lake Ranger Station in Sequoia National Forest on Hwy 180, and ends at Cedar Grove in Kings Canyon. One of the waterfalls close to the road is Grizzly Falls, and there are also awesome limestone caverns near the Kings River.  Boyden Cavern tours are available as well as rappelling opportunities.Sequoia Kings Canyon National Park, California

The natural beauty of our national parks is all around us and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are among my favorites. I will always remember the winding drive and the awesome scenery there.

Guest Post By: Margie Miklas

Follow Margie on her blog at

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