Two weeks. Six National Parks. This was a trip a long time in the making. It started in San Francisco with friends from high school and ended with a week-long National Park trip I did myself. Crazy? I’m still not sure. But it was AMAZING. All two weeks.
We started with a couple days exploring the San Francisco area, including walking around Lands End and watching the sunset from a fire pit at the Ritz in Half Moon Bay. I love San Francisco, so I was more than happy to spend a couple days there before leaving for Yosemite.
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK
— DAY 1 —
This waterfall was just outside the Visitors Center. One thing I learned quickly about Yosemite – there are a lot of waterfalls (at least there were this year).
Mirror Lake Trail
This is a great trail to explore. We hiked about 6 miles and did a loop vs. an out-and-back. I love loops because the entire trail is new. One thing that consistently amazes me about National Parks is how different a single hike can be. The Mirror Trail is a perfect example.
Vernal Fall – Mist Trail
At this point we were pretty tired from our first hike and thought we’d hike a bit to a bridge to see a couple waterfalls and then hike back. BUT, then people started telling us we HAD to go all the way up to the top of the waterfall and when people tell you to go to the top of a waterfall, you go to the top of a waterfall. After 1.2 miles of a 1,000 foot altitude gain, we made it to the top.
If you’re curious, this is what the top of a waterfall looks like:
Here’s the rest of the hike:
— DAY 2 —
On our second day at Yosemite, the lovely Park Ranger in the Visitors Center kindly pointed out we had only seen about 1% of the park on our first day, so she recommended driving to Glacier Point and exploring around there. I should mention that when you are driving through Yosemite (or any really National Park really) you will want to stop your car every 5 seconds to get out and look at the view. We decided to stop at Tunnel View (I’m sure you can see why).
We arrived at Glacier Point right before a storm rolled in. Watching the clouds fill the park was pretty cool and made for some moody photos. The drive to Glacier Point takes about an hour from the Visitors Center but it is WORTH IT.
SEQUOIA & KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARKS
Sequoia – Hike to Moro Rock
Sequoia and Kings Canyon are basically the same park/entrance, but about a 2-3 hour drive apart. These parks are HUGE so expect gorgeous (and long) drives through mountain roads. When started at the Giant Forest Museum area and went on a hike to Moro Rock. The hike goes through the forest so you will see some giant sequoias, but the park is also up in the mountains so the views are INCREDIBLE. Moro Rock has stairs and railings built in, so you climb up to the top relatively safely (as long as there aren’t any thunderstorms in the area). It was pretty cool to be in a place where you are above the clouds.
You have to go to this park. We had a bear cross the street in front of our car and climbed inside a tree in the SAME DAY.
The above picture was from the drive. Like I said, you’ll want to stop every 5 seconds.
Climbing inside a tree. Just your average Thursday.
This is all we could see from the top of Moro Rock:
Kings Canyon Drive
We had to drive back to San Francisco Thursday night (4 hours away) so we didn’t have that much time in Kings Canyon. If we wanted to go all the way into the canyon, we would have had to drive about 3 hours from the Sequoia entrance, so we decided to drive as far as we could before heading out. I’ll have to plan a trip back to Kings Canyon for sure, but the views from the drive were stellar.
For Olympic National Park, click here.
For North Cascades and Mt. Rainier, click here.