Yosemite National Park 2018


George and Yvonne with Yosemite Valley in Background

Although Yellowstone is the first national park, President Lincoln signed the bill setting aside the Mariposa Grove of sequoia trees along with Yosemite Valley in 1864 which inspired the national park idea. Today park rangers throughout the National Park System wear uniform belts and hatbands embossed with images of cones and foliage from giant sequoia trees. Yosemite's massive cliffs and giant waterfalls continue to amaze millions of park visitors every year. The park was not crowded during our five-day visit in the second week in April. The waterfalls were going full force, and the park closed briefly the weekend before our visit due to flooding.

Our Road Scholar group stayed at ECCO, the Episcopal Conference Center Oakhurst, which is on Highway 41 outside of the park. A chef and a baker prepared delicious buffet meals for our group and another similar size group from Cal Fire. The seventeen participants in our group came from several states. Our instructor, Shirley, and our group leader, Gayle, were excellent leaders with a lot of experience leading trips in Yosemite. Shirley worked for several years as a an interpretive park ranger using her background in botany. She also teaches watercolor painting and rock climbing. On our first day, we learned about park history, geology, wildlife, and then studied plants and trees while hiking on the ECCO grounds. During the next three days, we traveled to Yosemite Valley, Nelder Grove, and Wawona on a bus from ECCO. We visited the Ansel Adams Gallery and saw the location where John Muir had a cabin. On our last evening, Shirley led us in singing while playing her guitar.

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Yosemite Valley

  • Our yurt at Valley of the Rogue State Park. We enjoyed our first stay in a yurt during the drive to Yosemite.
  • This view from the east end of the tunnel is one of the best views of Yosemite Valley.
  • Behind the Merced River is El Capitan, a massive granite monolith standing 3,593 feet from base to summit.
  • Mule Deer grazing just off the paved trail along the roadway were used to people.
  • We continued to be amazed at the massive rocks and waterfalls.
  • This surging water comes from Bridalveil Falls.

Hiking to Mirror Lake

  • Yvonne hiking along Tenaya Creek
  • The two mile round trip hike to Mirror Lake follows Tenaya Creek.
  • Mirror Lake is a seasonal lake. Spring is the best time to see it.

Yosemite Falls

  • Reflection of Upper Yosemite Falls in a pond created from recent flooding
  • Yosemite Falls is the highest waterfall in the park, dropping over 700 meters from the top of the upper fall to the base of the lower fall where George is standing.
  • White water in Yosemite creek after the waterfall

Nelder Grove

  • The road was closed, but we still enjoyed touring Nelder Grove on foot.
  • Yvonne needed a little help climbing over a fallen tree blocking the path.
  • Yvonne and George in front of the trunk of a giant sequoia
  • This sign identifies one of the largest giant sequoias in the grove.
  • Bull Buck is estimated to be about 247 feet tall and 2,700 years old!
  • Looking up at Bull Buck


  • The Wells Fargo Stage Coach Office is one of many historic buildings in the Pioneer Yosemite History Center.
  • The Big Trees Lodge opened in 1879 and is a national historic landmark. The studio of landscape artist Thomas Hill is next to the lodge.
  • A large guest house near the lodge.
  • A covered bridge connects the lodge grounds to the buildings in the History Center.
  • Shirley sits on a pounding rock near a Black Oak tree. Indians pounded acorns on this granite rock and cooked them like oatmeal. The low spot probably took at least a hundred years of pounding.
  • We enjoyed the swinging bridge over cascading Chilnualna Creek near Wawona.