A view of Cascade Creek off Big Oak Flat Road (Hwy 120) in late February. (Vansh A. Gupta/Siliconeer)
There could be many failing arguments for not visiting the majestic Yosemite National Park. No Internet, no cellular connection, scenic but treacherous drive, very limited civilization, and very unpredictable weather, the list could go on.
However, there is just one reason that beats all of the above hands down.
The sheer serene beauty that Yosemite has to offer is a getaway from the stressful lives we all endure here in the status-update-crazy Bay Area. The picturesque landscape stays in our mental cameras for days to come, quite unlike the instant updates we access, at times hundreds of them.
Yosemite is a visual stimulant that simply awes us, no matter what the season. Winter, rain, summer, they all have their own special feel.
I’ve been to Yosemite thrice in my short life span of 16, and each time I have experienced something unique. During the snow season, Yosemite transforms into a winter wonderland and gets you thinking whether you have accidently stumbled upon the gates of heaven, hey, that’s just a figure of speech. Just to be clear, I haven’t yet seen heaven in heaven yet.
During the spring season, it is blossoming with greens and flowers and looks like the set of Jurassic Park. But about a month ago, it was a whole new feeling. A month ago, I experienced Yosemite with a new perspective, rain.
And this was no ordinary rain, this was the drought-eliminating series of storms that has hit Northern California bringing floods, devastation, and then this exquisite feel to Yosemite.
The usual route to Yosemite would be Hwy 140 so one could avoid the snakedrive of Hwy 120. But sometimes the adventurer in you is awakened and you end up doing something out of the ordinary.
Even though the GPS kept warning us not to take 120, we went for it and I was glad we did. The natural beauty we encountered through Hwy 120 was extra special. It was captivating and we actually ended up stopping multiple times just to stare, or take pictures. I am still reminiscing on that scenic drive as I write this story.
A few miles before hitting the base of Yosemite Valley, there is a bridge. The bridge itself is not that significant, but what it crosses, is much more significant. It is a secret, that route holds, not visible on the NPS website, Tripadvisor, or any travel brochure. Even Google Maps fails to recognize that place as a Vista Point. At least, not that I could spot.
The Cascade Creek Bridge crosses through Cascade Creek. With the water rushing through the rocks in one direction and vegetation of all sorts surrounding it on top of a mountain, Cascade Creek is a very welcoming entrance to the majestic Yosemite National Park.
Imagine a road, then some colossal rocky formations surrounding it. Now add some natural greens – trees, plants, and flowers – and water streaming. Lastly, add tourist attractions all along the way. That sums up the whole experience of the roads circling the park.
We first visited the Bridalviel Falls off of Wawona Road. The journey to the falls itself is absolutely bliss. The trail is accompanied by a picturesque scene of water crashing through rocks and then flowing through vegetation until you finally hit the falls. The waterfall itself is very dramatic, loud, cold and wet as you get closer. Remember to take a raincoat and cover your electronics. It pretty darn wet and chilly out there!
After a soaking, we made a beeline for our heated CUV and our trip advanced to the road circling the park until we trekked into the Sentinel Bridge with an overlook of the majestic Half Dome on one side and gushing Yosemite Falls on the other. Photos!
After routinely following the same ritual at some more vista points and ideal snowplay areas, it was time to take care of business, our appetite was calling. Yosemite, however had other plans for us. The food choices are fresh but limited, specially if you are a picky semi-herbivore, like your’s truly!
Yosemite is not the typical travel destination with restaurants, casinos and lodging mushrooming on the natural beauty like it is in Lake Tahoe. An Oscar-worthy dramatic movie that leaves you speechless, that’s Yosemite!
It has a certain peaceful magnificence that can barely be expressed in words. A place where hours can pass without one realizing, and it connects with your soul, exposing the child in you. Take a hike, do a lot of nature photography, get into a snow fight or make a snowman, or just sit and stare, it’s all possible here.
NOTE: Please check road conditions before heading to Yosemite. Pack some snacks and food, extra clothes, and supplies. Please be careful while driving or hiking in Yosemite.
Additional Photos By Vansh Gupta: