Yosemite National Park

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yosemiteIt was late in the evening when we drove from our home in LA to Yosemite. As we approached the lodge where my sister and her boyfriend awaited us, it was total darkness.  Without any nearby city lights we arrived into a pitch black open space. Imagine our surprise upon waking up the next morning, in the Garden of Eden.

Big Trees? Does that really sound worth spending vacation money to go see? I promise you, yes. They aren’t just big, they are really big. And it is breathtaking.

Here is my YouTube Travel Vlog about YOSEMITE. To keep reading this article for details on where to stay & what to see, continue scrolling down.


Look, I’ve covered stories in Sudan during a civil war, in Haiti after the earthquake, and slept in a coffin-like nook on a boat for 2 weeks while shooting a documentary in a rainforest – when it comes to roughing it, I’m game! But when I’m on vacation – luxury hotels are one of my favorite vices – nay, hobbies. My little sister, on the other hand, is a backpacking-hostel-sleeping vacationer. And since she planned this trip we ended up staying in Yosemite Village. The campground is a bit of a tent-lodge hybrid. And although it’s only a (very minor) step up from camping, it was actually an amazing experience! Each lodge has it’s own campfire, and a shared gym-like change room complete with showers and restrooms that are very open and clean.  But the key selling point here, is the moment you get out of bed, looking up, and seeing giant sequoia trees and incredible rock formations like El Capitan. If the idea of camping doesn’t sound appealing to you, this is a civilized way to experience Yosemite in comfort, while still being able to say that you roughed-it.

yosemite 5Cool Perk.

There is a big lodge steps away in Curry Village that has free wifi so you can tap back into civilization for a once-a-day instagram post. Real talk, you’ll have an abundance of National Geographic-worthy nature photos begging to be shared!

Tony Lake yosemiteSports & Adventure.

Hiking & Rock Climbing : The hardest and most famous rock climb is up El Capitan, which is a massive rock face that has become the poster boy for Yosemite. If you’re more into hiking check out Half Dome, or one of the other incredible number of trails through the forest. All which inhabit wildlife and will leave you in awe of how the massive sequoia trees in this national park make you feel like a tiny and humbled dot on earth.

Swim: We stumbled upon an alpine lake called Tenaya, which I highly recommend you go picnic at. It’s made of the stuff yoga teachers visualize while asking you to hold warrior position. The lake basin was formed by glacial action, and the backdrop is nothing short of magical. See Mike swimming in Tenaya lake in the photo above.

yosemite 7Eat & Drink.

Bring coolers & food! The campfire is a great excuse to cook hotdogs, drink beer, and roast smores. But be sure to lock up all your food in the bear safe lockers provided when you’re not using it! There is also a lodge only steps away that has the buffet Mike mentions in the YouTube video (in Curry Village – same place that has wifi.)

yosemite 6Local Wildlife.

We saw a ton of deer when we first arrived and it was really incredible because (unlike the regular occurrence of seeing them cross the road in my hometown of Ottawa, Canada) they are in complete and total wilderness with zero urbanization in sight…and for a moment, as they leisurely walk by you, you feel as though you are the first man on earth – in a world that existed before the advent of parking lots and strip malls.

yosemite wildlifeWhen we were hiking through the trails, taking in the giant sequoia trees, we spotted a little bear cub…and to respect the natural environment we felt blessed to be in (and fear mama bear was close behind) we kept our distance. However, much to my dismay, there were a number of tourists on the cubs heels…eventually lenses landed inches in front of its face as the tourists happily snapped their next instagram photos. It made me furious! (you can see the photo of the tourists doing this in my youtube blog) – PLEASE be respectful of the wildlife – they actually get to be wild!! That seems so rare these days! Give them space, bring a good camera that takes photographs from a distance.

yosemite 3Tweet me if you want any more info! @AliyaJasmine  — have fun!

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