One of the stops both Mr Ayla and I were looking forward to most on our American adventure was camping in one of the United States’ most incredible national parks. Yosemite is a four hour drive from San Francisco so, once Mr Ayla had got the hang of a slightly bigger drive than he was used to, we headed out of the city in our absolutely awesome campervan courtesy of Escape Campervans.
After driving along the windy tree filled roads, we arrived late at night and made our way to the Upper Pines Campground, right in the heart of Yosemite Valley, where we would be setting up our camper for the next couple of nights. It was pretty difficult but equally fun to set up the bed in the dark, find the bear locker to store our food in (no bears would be getting to my leftover cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory!), and find the toilets, all the while trying to be quiet so as not to wake the other campers nearby.
When we woke up the next morning after a surprisingly quiet and relaxed sleep in the super cosy camper bed, we could actually see where we were in the light of day. We were surrounded by giant trees with early morning rays of sun shining through, the sound of a stream trickling close by, birds tweeting overhead and deer roaming past.
There was a host of other campervans, RVs and tents (our camper was totally better than everyone else’s though!) all spread out with people already up and about making breakfast and getting ready for a day of exploring the park. But despite all the other campers, the campground was still so quiet and we had a huge amount of space to set up and make full use of our own area.
It was absolutely beautiful and, even though we were camping in the back of a van and not in a luxurious cabin, I cannot explain the sense of complete and utter relaxation and tranquillity I felt here. The next couple of days were some of the most fun and memorable of our entire trip and even now, only several months later, I wish we could go back and do it all again.After enjoying our cheesecake for breakfast out of the back of our camper (there’s nothing wrong with cake for breakfast every now and then, especially when it’s Cheesecake Factory cake) we bounded off to start exploring the rest of the park. We did a fair bit of walking as well as hopping on the free shuttle bus that whisks you to all the main viewpoints, but at certain times of year, like when we visited in early April, some roads are still closed to the buses so having our own transport to take us a bit further afield and up to Tunnel View, THE postcard view of Yosemite, was essential.
Yes, it’s real. And no, we have not been super-imposed. It really is just that breath-taking.
We loved having our own camper as it meant we had complete freedom to drive around as much as we wanted stopping at every single viewpoint along the way. Or, more likely, me shouting out at Mr Ayla to pull over whenever I saw yet another amazing view and him attempting to manoeuvre the giant camper off the road at a moment’s notice, which he actually did pretty well considering we’re used to a little Corsa at home!
The waterfalls were in full flow at this time of year as the winter’s snow was being washed away which created a thunderous roar as soon as we came close by to one. Bridalveil Falls soaked us through our clothes within a few seconds and we couldn’t hear each other talking (or laughing) over the noise.
But Yosemite Falls, one of the tallest waterfalls in the world, was the most impressive with its huge downpour into the rushing river below. From just below the falls, we could only see Lower Yosemite Falls – the two other parts of the falls that make up this huge cascade were somewhere above us contributing to the roar and the mighty splash. There are so many spots around the park where you can spot the falls from different angles, and we could see why this view was one of the most popular in the entire park.
As we made our way out of the park just as the sun was rising, I knew that if we ever visited the West Coast again (which I definitely plan on), there is no doubt that a return visit to Yosemite will be on our itinerary – with another colourful camper along for the ride of course. Not only is it an incredibly breath-taking national park at any time of year but it also created some fantastic memories for us with a totally new type of adventure, and made me realise just how diverse a country the USA really is.
Have you ever visited Yosemite or any of the other stunning national parks in the USA? Were you as awestruck as me? Let me know in the comments below or at: