A planned trip to Muir woods turned into an impromptu Yosemite photo day trip in the middle of the week. My friend went to Yosemite for his first time the weekend before to climb with a couple friends and he loved it so much he wanted to go back just for the sake of taking pictures.

The entrance fee for Yosemite is a 7 day pass for $30 per car. Would have been kind of expensive for us since it was a day trip but luckily one of us has the National Park Annual Pass ($80 a year), so technically we got in for free!

In total, we spent close to 8 hours in Yosemite, hitting up a few typical touristy spots:

  1. Tunnel View
  2. Washburn Point
  3. Glacier Point
  4. Bridalveil Falls
  5. Exploring Lower Pines + Half Dome Sunset

I’ve been to Yosemite 4 times so far — when I was scrambling up rocks with my pikachu t-shirt at age 8, when I skipped 2 days of school my senior year at 17, when I hiked up Vernal Falls with a church group when I was 18, and then a day trip for my friend’s birthday just last year.

The year before, I came on a Saturday and the Valley was saturated with tourists. It is not a joke when people say that Yosemite is Disneyland for outdoorsy people. There were tour buses packed with people, trams with audio tours, and I had to wait for my turn to take pictures everywhere I went.

Entering Yosemite Valley again this year on a less crowded weekday, agh — it was amazing. Awe inspiring.  It was quieter. The majestic views overshadowed all my anxious thoughts as Yosemite reminded me just how small I am in this world. There’s more to life than the stressful issues I’ve been brooding over the past week.

What a breath of fresh air.




I heard people murmuring behind me as I took that shot.

“It’s not worth it,” They said. I don’t know, I’d say it’s pretty worth it. I didn’t find my picture to be half as scary as the people who were jumping around the edge of the cliff to my left in the picture:




The view from Washburn point on the way to Glacier Point. Definitely a great vista point for pictures, although I didn’t get the shot that I had wanted… the traffic was too heavy for me to be standing in the middle of the street for a shot:




Bridalveil Falls. My camera was soaked in less than a minute of standing here:




The on and off rain has yielded rushing waters in Yosemite — definitely a huge contrast from last year. Wanted to dip my feet in it, but we were short on time.




The original plan to leave by 6 pm didn’t happen. Nor did we leave at 7, because as soon as the sun started to descend, we couldn’t help but stay longer to catch these views:




Love the way the sun lights up the granite… my friends were eating hot cheetos:




We wandered through the Valley near Sentinel Meadows and stopped by a river to catch Half Dome illuminated by the sunset, emanating a soft orange glow. A fellow photographer in the area told us he had been there for the past 3 hours with his setup, waiting for the perfect shot. We stayed for a bit to try to get the shots we wanted, but the unrelenting mosquitoes by the water were difficult to deal with.

I really need to invest in a wide angle lens… and I should’ve brought my tripod.




All in all, worth every minute of the drive, even though we spent just about same amount of time driving as we did in the park. Maybe more driving than sight-seeing actually, since we drove around in the park as well.

Still, no regrets! It was a great day outdoors. Hopefully I’ll be back soon to venture into less popular places in the Valley. There’s still so much more to explore.


Featured Photo: Tunnel View, May 2016
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Published by Miso S