A place of excitement and curiosity, Yosemite National Park is unlike any other. From the dominance of the Dawn Wall to the regality of Half Dome – the valley is filled with elegant landscapes that attract millions year-round. And even though power players like El Capitan and Vernal Falls often take the spotlight, below is a list of three unique places that are just as incredible.
When you first enter Yosemite Valley from southside drive, you will see pockets of the Merced River peeping through the trees. Not far there is a small cut out where you can park and walk down to the riverbank. There, you will find photogenic landscape with endless rocks and pebbles - full of vibrant color. The river flows like silk, and in places is as still as glass. Not only is this a great place to meditate, but an opportunity to soak in the beauty of the valley.
Middle of the Magic
Grandeur greetings from the face of El Capitan and waves of mist from Bridalveil Falls serve as a viable welcoming to some of the power players in the park. As you continue on the valley loop you will come to a trailhead for the hike to Vernal Falls. First, you must cross a bridge over the Merced. This is our next stop. The bridge is packed with breathtaking scenery from towering pine trees, to massive boulders. If you go early enough, the valley is draped in shadow just before sunrise. The dawn light creates a morning glow unlike any other, and illuminates the bridge. This is the perfect time and location for photographs.
Edge of Exploration
Never pass up the Mirror Lake Trail. According to the National Park Service website, "The first mile of this trail is a paved service road that leads directly to Mirror Lake. You may access the loop trail from the end of the paved path. The loop follows Tenaya Creek beyond the lake, and crosses two bridges after the Snow Creek Trail junction before returning past Mirror Lake on the south side of Tenaya Canyon." The first bridge is the one you want to stop at. Not far off the trail lies a set of three miniature waterfalls. You can only access these by going off trail; north of the bridge. Rest assured, they are worth the visit! These falls epitomize what it means to find a hidden gem.
Now you know three underestimated places to visit in Yosemite Valley. From rivers, to bridges, to waterfalls, there is always something to explore in this amazing National Park. Don't forget to bring a camera, and always take note of the little stops along your travels.