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Yosemite National Park sits on the western slopes of California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains. Most visitors spend their time in Yosemite Valley, which despite being only 7 miles long and 1 mile wide, packs in more jaw-dropping scenery than just about any other place on Earth.
Near the valley entrance stop at Tunnel View, and stand before a panorama that’s reduced generations of visitors to silence. From Tunnel View it’s just a short drive to Bridalveil Fall. Fed by snowmelt, the fall reaches its thundering peak in May.
The Yosemite Valley ring road follows the banks of the Merced River, which shifts in character as it thunders from the valley walls, before gently winding across the valley floor. The ring road is dotted with trailheads that lead to 800 miles of hiking trails. The Four Mile Trail climbs the valley’s southern wall to two of Yosemite’s great outlooks, Glacier Point and Washburn Point. Further along the ring road is the trailhead for The Mist Trail, which offers stunning views of Vernal and Nevada Falls.
For thousands of years, the Ahwaneechee had villages throughout this valley, but it was at the base of Yosemite Falls where their great chief resided. Take the one-hour hike to the lower falls, or spend the day climbing all the way to the upper falls.
To the north of Yosemite Valley, is Tioga Road, one of the USA’s most scenic highways. Fill your lungs with alpine air at Olmsted Point, refresh yourself by the waters of Tenaya Lake, then spend the day at Tuolumne Meadow, the traditional summer hunting grounds of the Ahwaneechee.
From its high country to its waterfalls, its towering sequoia groves to its valley meadows, Yosemite is an American story unlike any other.