California, Golden Gate Bridge, Half Dome, HotelTonight, Kings Canyon National Park, Northern California, San Francisco, Sequoia National Park, Yosemite, Yosemite National Park

Travel: Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

Photos, Travel

A few weekends ago, a friend and I jumped head first into a trip to Northern California’s Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Normally, we plan our adventures so we have an idea of what to expect, but this time we just relied on our GPS to get from Point A to Point B and took on whatever came our way.

After an easy flight, we landed in San Francisco, booked a room via HotelTonight (use my promo code LRANKIN9 for $25 off your booking), rented a car and drove an hour east to spend the night in Tracy, CA. That same night, I had my first In-N-Out Burger – it’s worthy of the hype!

The next morning, we headed out on our 2-hour trip to Yosemite. The initial drive was fine, but as we climbed the curvy mountain road, navigating the blind curves added a bit of unexpected (and slightly unnerving) excitement.

I had read about the crazy traffic at Yosemite and it’s 100% true. We ran into standstill traffic about 1-2 miles outside the park’s entrance and never escaped it until we left. After entering, it took us about an hour to reach Yosemite Valley, but there were plenty of breathtaking views to enjoy along the way.

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to capture the beauty of Yosemite Valley in a few photos and a brief description. But I will say that you cannot help but feel slightly overwhelmed by the enormity of your natural surroundings, especially the glorious Half Dome which looms majestically over the park.

Being mid-August, the seasonally gushing Yosemite Falls was nothing more than a slight drip, so we headed 16 miles uphill to experience more of the park from Glacier Point.

At over 7,000 feet above sea level, Glacier Point provided the most incredible view I’ve ever seen (and may ever see) in my life. Again, summarizing Yosemite in a few words and photos is a futile task. With it’s amazing panoramas, mountain fresh air and naturally manicured terrain, it’s a place you must experience in-person to truly appreciate.

The only downside of this trip is the amount of driving that was required, which was a lot! After a full day at Yosemite, we drove south to Fresno, CA where we spent the night before visiting Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks the next day.

Home to gigantic sequoia trees, hiking along the Big Stump Trail in Kings Canyon National Park was extremely peaceful. As you can see in the photos above, sequoia trees are absolutely incredible in size.

The trails were lined with lush evergreens and “famous” stumps from sequoias that once stood. With names like the “Mark Twain” and “Square Dance,” the stumps are celebrities at Kings Canyon.

After a few hours at Kings Canyon, we headed west to San Francisco. Exhausted after two days of exploring, the trek back to the city seemed to take forever. But after 5+ hours of driving, an insane amount of traffic, missing an exit and a child-like temper tantrum thrown by yours truly, we made it to our final destination, the Golden Gate Bridge.

We ended the trip with a tasty dinner at the Ashoka Indian Cuisine restaurant in the Marina District and, literally, a nap before waking at 3:30 am to catch an early flight home. 

I don’t recommend replicating this itinerary, but it works if you want to squeeze some of Northern California’s best nature and city experiences into about 2 days. God speed, my friends.

Till the next adventure. Peace.

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