this is another view from the western entrance.
Too bad we missed the best hour of the day to enjoy the colours this incredible place can show to the visitors.
I planned all the journey to reach the places I wanted to visit, or visit again, at sunset.
Here that was not possible.
Wanting to visit the death valley the day after, we had to cross the park and I knew that that was a long drive, so arrival to the park had to be anticipated at the early afternoon.
The western part of the park is densely forested, the climate is temperate.
This picture is taken along the road that descends towards the valley. There are a number of vista points along the road.
Don't miss any of those points because there really is a stunning view from there.
From the junction with the Glacier Point Road, Wawona Road (Hwy 41) begins its descent into Yosemite Valley. At first, the road allows views of the foothills and Turtleback Dome; eventually, it comes around a ridge and a large view of some Yosemite landmarks appear. From a long viewpoint on the north side of the road, you can see El Capitan, Half Dome, and Sentinel Dome. Past the viewpoint, the road continues descending, eventually entering the long Wawona Tunnel.
I didn't take pictures of that area, but, driving towards the Yosemite Valley, there is a large valley where there are clear signs of a big fire that destroyed a large part of the forest.
Life is growing again there, but so many skeketons of dead trees cover such a large area, many hills, that a bad feeling of sadness takes you while passing through
In my five days in this park (confined entirely to the Valley), I must have stared at these falls for 10 total hours. One of the neatest things I noted about this was a tiny pine clinging for dear life somewhere between the middle cascade and the lower leap. If you look closely you can see it. Little mutations occur year after year in this setting.
Valley View, at the west end of Yosemite Valley, is the twin viewpoint to Tunnel View. Although you can't see such an amazing array of famous granite landmarks from here, the Merced River flowing in front of the whole scene still makes it very beautiful. The three most dominant features here are El Capitan, Cathedral Spires, and Bridalveil Fall; you can see Half Dome's tip pointing out slightly above the forest. The Sentinel is also slightly visible. This viewpoint is best in late afternoon. Enlargen my photo for a panoramic view.
As far as views go, Valley Portal is not the best. But it is very beautiful and very accessible. Just off Hwy 120 (Big Oak Flat Road), you can take in a view of the Merced River Canyon, giant Elephant Rock, Cascade Falls, and Cathedral Spires towering over Bridalveil Fall. Notice how this area, which has been less glaciated than Yosemite Valley, is more V-shaped contrasting to Yosemite Valley's U-shaped evidence of glaciation. This viewpoint is best visited in the afternoon.
After Tenaya lake is Olmsted point, a great place to stop and enjoy the views of the park. Doing a photo there can be difficult in summer, due to the amount of people around. But the best is that there is a guard of the park that will answer all your questions.
Even if you ask questions about skydiving in El Capitan hehehe
Downstream on the Tuolumne River from the fairly unknown Hetch Hetchy Valley is an even more unknown valley: Poopenaut Valley, a gorge carved out by the Tuolumne River and resembling the lower reaches of Kings Canyon. The scenery here is dry and granite, though a meadow at the valley floor does create a little green. This valley is best viewed from an unnamed, unsigned, and unmarked turnout on the Hetch Hetchy Road; Lonely Planet identified the overlook as the Poopenaut Valley Overlook. Looking east, you can also see the O'Shaughnessy Dam and Tueeulala and Wapama Falls. The scenery may be more foothill than alpine, but it is still attractive in its own right.
Big Oak Flat Road, from Crane Flat to Yosemite Valley, is a road largely ignored by most visitors. Many enter via this route, but take little time to stop at roadside turnouts and instead head straight for the valley. It is true that there is much less to see (and the scenery is less grand) here than just about anywhere else in the park, but you can still take your time and enjoy the road. From Yosemite Valley, Big Oak Flat Road climbs up the canyon walls, passing through a series of tunnels to the Cascades, where you can view the Cascade Creek Falls; further on, you'll come to a good viewpoint at Valley Portal, where you can see Elephant Rock, the Merced River, Sentinel Dome, Cathedral Spires, and Bridalveil Fall. After this viewpoint, you'll pass through a rather long tunnel to reach the next viewpoint, where you can see El Capitan, Half Dome, and Sentinel Dome. From there, the road winds around a ridge away from Yosemite Valley towards the foothills; for a while, the road provides a good view of a burnt forest. Then you'll come to the Big Meadow Overlook, which allows a view through trees to Big Meadow, which signs at the turnout say is being enroached upon by forest. From there, the road winds its way to Crane Flat, where there is a gas station, a general store, and the Crane Flat Meadow.
If you were to continue about a mile past Crane Flat on Hway 120 west, you'd pass a closed gate for the Crane Flat Fire Lookout. Which brings up a question... my 2003 edition of the Lonely Planet guide to Yosemite states that you can drive this road 2.3 miles to a parking area and walk a bit to the fire lookout, where there are good views of the Clark Range. Interestingly, when I asked a park employee at the Crane Flat gas station about the lookout, he said it was closed to the public; is anyone able to clarify this discrepancy?
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