The location: Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park is a wilderness treasure that proves there’s more to California than the beach. World-famous granite monoliths and giant sequoias have drawn visitors to the area for well over a hundreds years. About four million tourists visit the park each year, and most spend their visit within the seven square miles of the Yosemite Valley. The narrow road through the valley clogs on summer weekends, but there’s plenty to see without getting stuck in the traffic.
The story: fighting the crowds
We visited Yosemite at the very end of our year-long travel tour. To be fair, we might have been a bit burned out by that point. We knew Saturday would be a busy time to visit but thought by mid-September it wouldn’t be too bad. Unfortunately, the park was so crowded it was difficult to enjoy.
Our tip? Skip Mariposa Grove if you’re planning to visit Sequoia National Park, which has bigger and better giant sequoia trees. If you only have one day in Yosemite, hit the valley as early in the day as you can. Then spend the rest of your time enjoying the less visited points of interest.
The famous photo spot: Tunnel View
Tunnel View is the best and easiest place to capture El Capitan and Half Dome. Ansel Adams made this view famous and it’s still a great place to catch a stunning vista. The granite monoliths are a sight to behold from this road-side pullout. Earlier in the summer you can even see Bridalveil Falls rushing down the rockface.
A committed shutterbug could easily spend the day at this point, catching the cliffs in different light. Bring your wide angle lens for the epic views and a polarizing filter.
The moody photo spot: Glacier Point
Glacier Point is located at the end of a winding road that’s entirely separate from Yosemite Valley. One is not on the way to the other. We visited Glacier Point in the afternoon after accidentally getting stuck in one-way traffic in the valley. We were delighted to get up above and enjoy the epic views. From here, Half Dome rises from the trees like a hooded specter. The massive face of El Capitan, however, is not visible at this spot.
We first stopped at Washburn Point, thinking it was Glacier, and found it to be much less crowded than the final lookout. We were able to park and walk around the viewpoint, taking in the haunting figure of Half Dome framed by pines. Glacier Point was so crowded, Josh jumped out of the car and ran to the viewpoint while I was sat in line for a parking spot.
The gear: Canon
These photos of Yosemite National Park were taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II, with either a Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L telephoto lens or Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L wide lens, both with a polarizing filter or neutral density filter.
All images are copyright of Josh Schaulis and may not be reproduced or used in any way without written permission.