Another early morning in Mariposa, greeted a star-lit sky and the sound of cattle in the distance! My morning coffee was replaced by the chilling bite of the 40 degree weather as I took our dog for a walk around the cabin. I have zero shame in being a hotel snob – but I really love the warm feeling of staying in AirBnB’s. The cabin we stayed in complimented our woodsy surroundings but kept our attention and spiked our curiosity with its “interesting” choice of artwork and decor (to each their own – no judgement here). Our temporary home in Mariposa was great for two nights in the woods but this morning we packed up our light gear and loaded up the truck onto our next destination.
And to make sure weather was still on our side, we called the parks hotline (209-372-0200, Hit 1, Hit 1) to make sure all of the main roads in the park were open – especially since Tioga pass was going to be a big part of our day!
Again, we made our stop at the “city-famous” Donut-A-GoGo – replacing yesterdays Apple donuts for cherry donuts and a cinnamon roll the size of a salad plate. And this time we skipped the wait at the local grocery to score breakfast at Burger King (sometimes you just need a croissantwich).
And the smartest stop of the morning was visiting the Mariposa Visitors Center at the tip of the main strip in downtown Mariposa. Here a friendly staff member helped us navigate and prioritize our to do list for the day! She made sure to let us know that today was the last day to get chili in Tuolumne Meadows (just past the visitors center) – so naturally we had to add this to our to do list! And after verifying our route and getting her expert advice, we were off to another day of adventuring in Yosemite!
Sadly, we had about 45 minutes from the Visitors Center in Mariposa to the gates of Yosemite – which we spend searching for the $30 park pass we just purchased 24 hours earlier. So another friendly reminder – DO NOT lose your ticket into the park or you will have to pay another $30… On a positive note – even if you pay daily, it will be worth it!
Our first stop upon entering beautiful Yosemite Valley was Tunnel View which was packed with tour buses, tourists and selfie sticks – but 100% worth the congestion, lack of parking and traffic! From the the Tunnel View stop, you can look into Yosemite Valley and take in the vastness of the valley and see El Capitan, Half Dome and appreciate how small you really are in this world next to the monumental structures surrounding you.
After experiencing Tunnel View we made our way to yet another waterfall – Bridalveil Fall. I wish I had more photos of this landmark – but I was on doggy duty and had to carry our dog through this stop since it was THE place to be if you were a dog in Yosemite Valley. On a positive note, having to avoid other dogs took us on a rouge trip off the trail to a small creek for Caesar to play in the water and chase the running water in false hope that he would catch it.
But we did get to stop on the departing side of Cooks Meadow to take in more spectacular views of our surroundings from the valley floor.
I love this picture of Justin’s thumb… Luckily I have a lot of experience cropping photos – if not, this paricular thumb would be in almost every one of my photos! Haha, Best advice for anyone traveling in this lifetime – make sure you have a traveling partner who loved taking pictures as much as you do! Justin came in CLUTCH for almost every one of the amazing photos I’m lucky to share (and thank you to his thumb as well, for the laughs)! =)
And like I had previously mentioned, I had Doggy Duty – which as you can see from Caesars majestic roar – was a pleasure! I don’t have kids, but this fur baby fills my heart with joy especially in moments like these when I can see him overwhelmed with new scenery and surrounding! #PuppyModel
If you think hes cute here – you need to check out his Instagram Account – Caesar – Puppy Model for Hire
From the valley, we made our way north on Big Oak road – with elevated views of the Stantislaus National Forest – to 120- East which becomes Tioga Pass!
The previously mentioned snow fall, would have ruined our adventuring if it fell 24 hours earlier – but to our fortune we got to experience some spectacular views and sites still covered in snow.
Don’t let the photo fool you – Caesar loved frolicking through the snow. And FYI for all of you traveling with friends and loved ones, when you dress in layers – still make sure you aren’t wearing the same shirt as one another before you leave in the morning.
Tioga Pass exceeded our expectation with stunning views and amazing attractions. You can’t go a mile along this road without seeing cars parked and people taking in what mother nature has been dishing out for centuries.
You can’t see it the photo above, but from where I was sitting you can see the back side of Half Dome to my far right and the beautiful mountain reflections of Tenya Lake to my far left!
My biggest regret on Tioga Pass was not bringing my Canoe (I’m a canoer these days – that’s a previous blog to catch up on). Mirror Lake was lacking both the “mirror” and “lake” feel and Tenaua Lake more than made up for it!
I love this picture because I loved this moment. The water was crystal clear and the rock I was standing on sloped right into the water as if God placed it here welcoming you to swim and be one with the water – truly “diving” into the natural beauty of this place.
At this point we had climbed about 4,000 feet in elevation (by car) and there were still monstrous mountains surrounding us – these one frosted with chunks of snow and ice.
Looking back on our trip, I wish we would have built and entire day around Tioga Pass just to take the hikes we didn’t have the time to do and to really enjoy the views – and especially to take a dip in Tenaya Lake (canoe in tow next time)!
After Tenaya Lake and few more stops to take pictures we made our way to the Tuolumne Visitors Center where we did in fact take advantage of the Chili before they closed up the shop for the Fall/Winter season!
I couldn’t resist letting Caesar play in the snow again – which he appreciated it – and then we were back on the road and made our way out of Yosemite National Park!
Thank you, Yosemite for the amazing memories – while we did so much – there is still so much more to see and do, and for that, we will be back!
And I couldn’t resist the opportunity for another photo opportunity as we made our way through Inyo National Forest on our way to Bishop, CA where we would spend night three of our adventure!
There really aren’t any places to stop on Tigoa Pass (unless you like chili) so I strongly suggest you have enough food and water to get you through the day if you plan on adventuring on 120! And if you make it to the end of 120 where it meets 395 – there is an awesome convenience store with pretty awesome stickers, post cards and souvenirs to commemorate your Yosemite Experience! And if you have a pet, they have a massive lush and green park to run that any animal can appreciate!
After the pit stop it was South on 395 and through Mammoth Lakes toward our next destination!
If you want to see the whole day under 2 minutes, check out the days “highlight reel” on vimeo: